In the play Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare,
each characters destiny seems to be predetermined. This
raises the ultimate question: who, or what, controls fate?
Existentialism is the belief that each person defines
their future by their decided actions: that the future has
not yet been written. Fatalism is the belief that the
outcome of all events is preordained, and therefore,
unalterable. Throughout Macbeth, the character Macbeth
makes many decisions which clearly affect his future, but
are they truly decisions? Or, are his decisions
examples of fatalism, where another force is guiding his
actions to their predetermined conclusion?
Many of the characters, events, and much of the
imagery in Macbeth indicates that fate plays a prominant
role in advancing the plot. The characters most easily
identified with having supernatural powers are, obviously,
the three witches.
The Witches' ability to see into the future is
demonstrated when Macbeth becomes thane of Cawdor. The
line, 'What? Can the devil speak true?' showes Banquo's
surprise at the realization of the prophecy.
But, would the Witches' prophecy of Macbeth's royal
promotion have come true had they not made Macbeth aware of
the possibility? There was no reason to warn Macbeth of the
fate in store for him, since it is most likely impossible
for a person to alter their destiny. It is quite possible
that the witches have no real power at all, beyond that of
suggestion. They may have only planted the idea within
Macbeth, feeding off his already present ambition. Perhaps
the only true controlling power comes from Lady Macbeth's
Once Lady Macbeth had learned of the witches'
prophecy, she immediately concluded that Macbeth would not,
with his present persona, be able to attain that which fate
had bestowed upon him.
'...Hie thee hither,
That I may pour...