William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is not necessarily a play of fate, but rather a tragedy that occurred as a result of uncontrollable greed and malevolence by Macbeth and his wife. The weird sisters only make suggestions about Macbeth’s road to kingship; they do not cast spells to make true all their predictions. These interpretations lead Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to kill Duncan and secure the title Thane of Clawdor. While in kingship Macbeth elects to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance, for Macbeth was fearful about losing his throne to Fleance. Senseless violence and inner rage cause the King of Scotland to murder Macduff’s children and wife.
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The predictions of the witches are only temptations. The weird sisters never tell Macbeth what to do with these suggestions. He is initially curious and disbelieving about these deceptive hags, but he takes their forecasts literally. The witches only make predictions about the future kingship of Macbeth: “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.” Macbeth, along with Lady Macbeth, was responsible for making the judgments that leads to the downfall and destruction of himself. The prophecies predicted by the weird sisters do occur, but one can conclude that latter events, such as the death of Macbeth, were not caused by their direct powers, but they were simply the witches’ foreknowledge: “He (the apparitionist) will not be commanded. Here’s another / More potent than the first.”
The vaulting ambitions of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth lead to the death of King Duncan. For the sake of Macbeth’s ambition, he is willing to murder his cousin, Duncan. Macbeth realizes that murdering his king is perfidious and blasphemous because every king is set on throne by God; he is driven by his undying aspiration to steal the throne and be king: “I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’ other.” Lady Macbeth is also moved by her avarice to be alongside her husband on the throne. She uses all her strength and intelligence for evil purposes; this confident and arrogant authoritarian instills the plan of the murder (of Duncan) to Macbeth: “We fail? / But screw your courage to the sticking place / And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep.”
Macbeth is the only individual responsible for the death of his friend Banquo and the flight of Banquo’s son, Fleance. Macbeth hires murderers to kill his best friend, Banquo. He chooses to slaughter Banquo, for he does not wish any of Banquo’s children to be in kingship. If Macbeth had only killed Fleance and let Banquo live, then Banquo can procreate more sons that would endanger Macbeth’s position as the King of Scotland. Macbeth’s vaulting ambition to be king provokes this behavior and leads him to murder Banquo: “It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight, / If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.” Macbeth was apprehensive that Banquo’s son, Fleance, would somehow seize the throne of kingship away from the hands of Macbeth. Although unsuccessful, Macbeth commands the murderers to slay Fleance. Auspiciously for Fleance, he escapes from this predicament as his father lay dying on the floor: “O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!”
The deaths of Macduff’s children and wife are rendered by Macbeth’s own free will. Macbeth never informs anyone about his response to the murder of Macduff’s wife and children. Macbeth has good reasons to slay Macduff, but the killings of Macduff’s family does not gain him anything concrete: “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, / Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword / His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls / That trace him in his line.” Fate, along with the weird sisters, does not play any role in these killings. These murders are, indeed, induced by Macbeth. He commits these murders because out of a feeling of desperation. Despite the prophecies introduced by the witches, which me seem encouraging, Macbeth is still timorous in losing his crown. Since Macbeth kills to get to the throne, his other crimes seem inevitable. In order to protect what he already possesses, Macbeth learns to cheat, lie and kill anyone that is an hindrance: “No boasting like a fool; / This deed (the deaths of Macduff’s wife and kids) I’ll do before this purpose cool.”
Although William Shakespeare may have intended Macbeth to be a play of fate, the roles of Lady Macbeth and the weird sisters and the free will of Macbeth prove otherwise. The witches never empower their predictions to transpire in any direct manner; Macbeth makes these suggestions active in reality. The vaulting ambitions of Macbeth and his spouse, Lady Macbeth, lead to the death of King Duncan, Macbeth’s cousin. Macbeth’s choice leads to the death of Banquo and the escape of Fleance. The Thane of Cawdor’s free will incites the killings of Macduff’s wife and children. These points help to illustrate the thesis that Macbeth was not destined to be a play of fate, but rather a play in which the tragic hero, along with the characters, faces reality as a result avarice and bitterness.