In Shakespeare?s Macbeth, there is a question as to whether or not Macbeth is driven by fate or free will. The three weird sisters approach Macbeth with prophecies that will all come true in the end. It would appear that Macbeth is just following destiny at first. However, Macbeth always had a choice throughout the play to choose his own fate. Macbeth journeyed to his murderous doom through his own free choice.
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In Act I, the three witches visit Macbeth and Banquo on the heath. The witches make three predictions; Macbeth will be the Thane of Cawdor, he will be King, and Banquo?s sons will be king but not Banquo. Even though the witches did make these prophecies, Macbeth?s fate was not sealed. Later in the same scene, Ross and Angus meet Macbeth. They tell Macbeth that he is now the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth then reflects on the predictions and says, ?Present fears are less than horrible imaginings? (Act I, vii, 139). Macbeth is relating his fear that he may have to do something violent in order to become king but he hopes that it can come about by ?chance?. Almost immediately after the witches have visited him, Macbeth begins to take their prophecies as a reality. He is almost trying to fulfill the tempting predictions, now that his mind is lustful for power, instead of remaining loyal to the King.
It is once again apparent that Macbeth does control his own destiny when the witches make their second appearance to him. They show Macbeth three apparitions. These tell Macbeth that he will be king until Birnam Woods meet Dunsinane Hill, he cannot be killed by anyone born of woman, and he sees Banquo?s descendants that will become kings. At this point in the novel Macbeth is using the witches as a guideline to his life. The apparition that he cannot be harmed by anyone born of woman creates a false sense of security within himself. Even at this point, Macbeth still has a choice of whether or not to believe the witches. The weird sisters have not put any spell on him; they have just filled his greedy mind with a sense of security and power for kingship.
From the beginning, Macbeth chose to follow the witches instead of letting things just naturally occur. Banquo serves to show how the predictions were not just destiny and did not control his life. Even when he sees that many are becoming true, he states, ?may they (witches) not be my oracles?(Act III, sc.i, 9). He is stating that he will just let events occur and not try to fulfill the prophecies. Macbeth also had this same choice. If he had taken the same approach as Banquo, a claim could be made that it was destiny that Macbeth would murder Duncan. However, Macbeth lived on account of the prophecies, not the reverse.
Macbeth?s downward spiral of events was created through his own free will. The witches did foretell his future but they never directly controlled his actions. The sisters did not cast a spell to make Macbeth go crazy. He was engulfed in his lust for power and his battle with his conscience. This led to his insomnia and ultimate downfall. In the end his false sense of security created the atmosphere for the battle in which he was to be killed in. The witches influenced Macbeth?s tragedy but he condemned himself.