The Power of Fate vs. Free Will in Medea and Macbeth

1850 Words Mar 22nd, 2013 8 Pages
The Power of Fate vs. Free Will in Medea and Macbeth
Throughout both Medea and Macbeth, there is a clear and heavy presence of the gods. This begs the question, are the characters in charge of their own destiny, or are their fates already written? Fate is described as “that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny.” It can be said that it is the gods who are in charge of creating the character’s fates. In both Medea and Macbeth, there is a common theme of placing too much trust into fate, rather than taking responsibility for their personal actions.
In ancient Greek society, it was believed that the gods were in charge of creating people’s destinies. People could make their own small life decisions, but that was the extent of their power
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With the first prophecy coming true, Macbeth believes that the witches truly know his destiny, though he goes out of his way to make them happen. In reality it is purely coincidental. Before the two murderers leave to kill Banquo, Macbeth says “Rather than so, come fate into the list,/ And champion me to the utterance! (3.1.70-71). At this point, Macbeth is confronting fate head on. He wants to fight his destiny until the very end, no matter how bitter it may be. At the end of this scene, Macbeth explains that Fleance also “must embrace the fate/Of that dark hour” (3.1.136-137). Macbeth feels that Fleance’s fate is that he will be murdered as well. Macbeth takes the witches’ prophecies literally in all instances, when he should have interpreted them more, such as the “born of a woman” prophecy. Rather than thinking through what the Weird Sisters tell him, and letting events pan out as they will, he (and those around him) take matters into their own hands and try and manipulate the situation to make the prophecy come true. Because of this, it is unclear whether or not these are self-fulfilling prophecy. We’ll never know whether or not Macbeth would have become king without murdering Duncan, or if Banquo’s descendants would be king. Most of Macbeth’s actions are also controlled by others, such as Lady Macbeth, though the fact that Macbeth

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