Free-Will in Macbeth.

Essay by AgordonHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2003

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The renowned William Shakespeare had once postulated, "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." Conversely, via distinct imagery he portrays that only the opposite of true - destiny is not in the hands of the beholder. In Macbeth, the underlying question of fate vs. free will is heavily expounded upon through symbols such as those of night and darkness. Two diametric schools of thought exist regarding fate v. free will; existentialism or the belief that each person defines their future by their decided actions and fatalism, the belief that the outcome of all events is preordained. Macbeth heavily relies on fate and often takes the unproblematic and ordained way, which essentially leads to his downfall. With this path came the great paradox; reminiscent of the fundamental question of the chicken before the egg, was it the knowledge of fate that led to its inherent following?

A common trait lie in the hands of both Macbeth and Lady; their inability to express their true identities and thoughts.

Macbeth had warily stated "Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires" (1.4.57-58). In this context, the stars symbolize the predestined fate. They are being instructed to hide their "fires" so that the rightful fate of the Macbeth family isn't revealed to the rest of the world. Macbeth does not want his "black" desires to be known; making him appear less righteous and worthy to his people. Ironically, at the same time he is planning on following the predictions of the Three Witches in becoming king. These desires are "black" because subconsciously Macbeth is aware of the fact that they will ultimately instigate his downfall, be it physically or mentally. Lady Macbeth supports this line of thinking, as she herself instructs, "Look...