Basing your essay on specific extracts from the play, would you say that, according to Shakespeare, fate determines man's action, or that man is always free to choose his own course of action?
According to masters of literary theory, a tragedy draws the destiny of extraordinary people fallen down from their upper status into the common world because of their faults. Typical of tragedy is the influence of extraordinary forces out of human control on the action, which contributes to the idea of fate acting against human will. Tragic heroes, as Racine says, are “ni tout à fait innocents, ni tout à fait coupables” for they partake of their misfortune without always being conscious of that. In this sense, this quotation raises an important issue of tragic literature: the question of the ambiguous responsibility of tragic heroes in their own fates. In 1688, Shakespeare tells us in his play Macbeth the story of an ambitious man who becomes a murderer to be the king of Scotland. Is Macbeth, the sanguinary king, only a victim of a horrible fate, or does not Shakespeare rather imply that he also contributes to his own fall? To answer this question, let us first analyze the role of fate in Shakespeare's play Macbeth, to wonder then whether Shakespeare thinks that his heroes are responsible for their own actions or not.
[...] reasons. Firstly, by essence, witches are supernatural creatures, and so they add to the realism of the play's action a kind of mystic atmosphere, and give the spectator the impression that there is something in the action that cannot be controlled by humans. Besides, the witches play an important role throughout the play because they are the ones by whom Macbeth becomes aware of his future, once in the third scene of Act One when they predict to him that he will become Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland, and also in the Act Four when they let Macbeth see his future through them. [...]
[...] With this scene, Shakespeare wants to get the spectator aware of the fact that Macbeth would have had the possibility not to kill Duncan if he had wanted to. Macbeth is the one person who freely makes the decision in the end. In this way, Shakespeare clearly rejects the idea of an incontrollable force pushing his character to commit the murder. The role of Lady Macbeth is also noticeable in this respect because her influence on her husband's decision is also a means to point out how small details can change the course of things. [...]
[...] When Macbeth explains in the second scene of Act Two that: “Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,' When they did say 'God bless One can see here symbolically God's punishment of Macbeth for his murder. The fact that he is not able to pronounce ‘Amen' is a way for Shakespeare to make his spectator understand that Macbeth is damned for his action, because of this free choice. By assuming God's condemning of Macbeth's deed, Shakespeare explicitly says that his hero is responsible for what happened. [...]
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