Choices v. Fate in Macbeth

844 Words4 Pages
As people live day to day, they are faced with numerous decisions and choices. Their decisions result in consequences, for better or for worse. Even in the early 1600s, these ideals are still accepted. Criminals, in Shakespeare’s society, are still punished for their wrongdoings, and noble warriors rewarded for their bravery in battles. In his tragedy Macbeth, Shakespeare reflects the principle that an individual is responsible for his own actions and therefore determines his own fate though the protagonist Macbeth, who is determined to make the three witches’ prophecies come true by killing Duncan. The three witches’ three “prophecies” are the main cause for Macbeth thrusting his own fate through the decisions he makes. However, there are not three prophecies; in fact, there is only one. A prophecy is a foretelling of something to come. Therefore, two of the three predictions are not in fact so because they have already occurred. The witches refer to Macbeth as thane of Glamis, thane of Cawdor, and “king hereafter” (Shakespeare 17 I.iii. 53). As a result of the previous thane of Cawdor being labeled as a traitor, Macbeth is immediately pronounced as thane of Cawdor, he just has not gotten the news of the event yet. The fact that the word “hereafter” is used when referring to Macbeth becoming a king reflects that this is the only prophecy that has not yet come true. In the forecasting of Macbeth and Banquo’s futures, the witches never directly control Macbeth’s actions. In truth, Macbeth is burning with questions before the witches vanish when he demands, “Say from whence / You owe this strange intelligence, or why / Upon this blasted heath you stop our way / with such a prophetic greeting” (Shakespeare 19 I.iii. 78-81). The three witches have not forced Macbeth to make any decisions or take any answers. They simply have told Macbeth part of his
Open Document