Macbeth




Q. To what extent do you think that Macbeth is in control of his own destiny & therefore responsible for the events in the play?


‘ Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare revolves around an honourable man in the Scottish army who is influenced by a number of people to fulfil his desire to become King of Scotland, which eventually leads to his bloody death. Of course many people have different opinions on whether Macbeth is in control of his own destiny and therefore responsible for the events that unfold during the play.


One point for conveying that Macbeth is in control of his own destiny occurs at the very beginning of the play, during Act One. Macbeth and Banquo come across the three witches- who we have seen already in Act One, scene One, arranging to meet Macbeth after he had won the battle. At this point the weather should have indicated what was to happen because Shakespeare uses the metaphor of bad weather to indicate an ominous change. Some people feel that the presence of the witches indicates that they are in control of Macbeth’s destiny. These three witches then greet Macbeth by three different titles, all of which have superior power to his present title. Even though the witches make these predictions, it does not in anyway seal Macbeth’s fate. Later in the same scene, Macbeth’s finds out that he is now the Thane of Cawdor. Now that he has heard one prediction come true, Macbeth, lustful for power, starts to fear that he may have to commit a violent deed to become King but hopes that it may come about by chance. None of this had been ordered or cast about by the witches. This shows that Macbeth is in control of his destiny and can chose what path to take himself:


“ My thought, whose murder is yet but fantastical.”


I feel that at this point Macbeth should be remaining loyal to his King instead of starting to imagine ways of removing him through a violent deed.


Secondly, since Macbeth’s encounter with the witches he relies heavily on their predictions. A great example of this is Banquo. Just like Macbeth his future is predicted by the witches but he chose to let events naturally happen and felt that he should not alter his own destiny, even if the predictions become a reality. We can see this when he says, “ May they not be my oracles”. Since Banquo is also at the encounter of the witches with Macbeth and chose not to follow them, this shows that Macbeth could have also taken this path. Macbeth, however, chooses to rely on the witches to foretell his destiny instead of allowing events to unfold untouched by him:


“ I will tomorrow to the weird sisters: more shall they speak, for now I am bent to know.”


I feel that this is a crucial mistake by Macbeth in that he decides to rely on the witches because they have now got a firm grasp on his destiny.


However, there are many factors for believing that Macbeth is not in control of his own destiny and the main one is his wife, Lady Macbeth. We can see that Macbeth changes his mind about the killing of Duncan for a myriad of reasons. From thereon, Macbeth only wants to serve in his rightful position and he emphasises this by stating to Lady Macbeth:


“ We shall proceed no further in this business, he hath honoured me of late.”


I feel that at this point Macbeth is now in control of his destiny but only for a short time because Lady Macbeth then manipulates him. She alters Macbeth’s personal and rightful decision. After already manipulating Macbeth to murder Duncan after she is sent a letter from him, Lady Macbeth then toils with Macbeth’s emotions and claims that he was drunk when he foretold her his ambitions. Macbeth therefore changes his mind and goes ahead with the murder. This manipulation clearly shows that Lady Macbeth makes him change his own destiny:


“Was the hope drunk, wherin you dressed yourself? …When you durst do it, then you were a man.”


I feel that Macbeth is taken advantage of by Lady Macbeth and she knows that any loving husband is willing to do almost anything to show