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"Macbeth" Polar Theme: Fate vs. Free Will

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Christine Chow

on 5 May 2011

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Transcript of "Macbeth" Polar Theme: Fate vs. Free Will

"Macbeth" Polar Theme:
Fate vs. Free Will ACT I Throughout the play, Macbeth delights in the prophecy of the witches,but then attempts to change it to suit his own interests. We could see that he struggles between fate and free will through his actions.He has hard time takinig control over his actions. "This supernatual soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good;if ill,why hath it given me earnest of success,comencing in a truth?I am Thane of Cawdor:If good,why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrideimage doth unfix my hair against the use of nature?" (I,iii,130-138) After seeing the witches, Macbeth has been told that King Duncan has just named him Thane of Cawdor, which confirms one of the witches' predictions. Upon hearing the news, Macbeth assumes the witches' prediction that he will become king will also come true. He eagerly look forward to his future. "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir."(I,iii,143-144) Macbeth seems content to leave his future to"chance". If "chance" will crown him king, then there is no reason for him to "stir" or go against King Duncan in order to make things happen. "The Prince of Cumberland!that is a step on which I must fall down , or else o'er-leap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires!Let not light see my black and deep desires;The eye wink at the hand;yet let that be which the eye fears,when it is done,to see."(I,iv,48-53) Eariler, Macbeth seemed to sit back and let his fate unfold. This quotation shows that once Macbeth knows that King Duncan has named Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland and heir to the crown of Scotland, Macbeth decides that he must take action for things that obstruct his way to the throne. He notices that his desires are "black and deep", this shows that he has decided to commit murder in order to make the witches' prophecy comes true. "We will proceed no further in this business: he hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people,which would be worn now in their newest gloss,not cast aside so soon./I dare do all that may become a man;who dares do more,is none."(I,iiv,31-47) Macbeth hesitates in his decision of assassinating Duncan,Lady Macbeth browbeats and urges him to change his mind. This quotation is important because it shows that Macbeth has came to another deliberate decision. He doesn't want her wife to think he is a coward so he tells Lady Macbeth that he will do anything a man can do. ACT II "Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?Come,let me clutch thee:I have thee not,and yet I see thee still.Art thou not,fatal visionsensible to feeling as to sight?or art thou but a dagger of the mind,a false creation,proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?I see thee yet,in form as palpable as this which now I draw.Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;And such an instrument I was to use."(II,i,32-43) Macbeth sees an imaginary floating dagger which leads him in the direction of the King's room. It is uncertain if Macbeth has any control over whether or not he follows this apparition. ACT III "If'tbe so,for Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind;For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;Put rancours in the vessel of my peace only for them;and mine eternal jewel given to the common enemy of man, to make them kings,the seed of Banquo kinds!"(III,i,64-70) After the murder of Duncan,Macbeth doesn't seems content,especially when he thinks of the witches' prophecy that Banquo's heirs will one day become kings.Macbeth decided to challenge the "fate" in order to prevent this from happening. "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,till thou applaud the deed.Come,seeling night,scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,and with thy bloody and invisible hand cancel and tear to pieces that great bond which keeps me pale!"(III,ii,45-50) This quotation shows that Macbeth has guilt but is manifested into anxiety. He has came up with a plan. His goal is to kill everyone else so he could be the king. "I will to-morrow-and betimes I will-to the weird sisters:more shall they speak;for now I am bent to know,by worst means,the worst.All causes shall give way:I am in blood stepp'd in so far,that,should I wade no more,returning were as tedious as go o'er."(III,iv,132-138) Macbeth is going to return to see the witches again.He wants to know about the worst result that he might get.He thinks that he is so far out in blood,even if he were to go no further it would be more difficult to turn back than go on with it.He thinks he is going insane. ACT IV "Be lion-melt'd,proud,and take no care who chafes,who frets,or where conspirers are:Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him./That will never be:who can impress the forest,bid the tree unfix his earth-bound root?Sweet bodements!good!"(IV,i,90-96) Macbeth visits the witches for more details about his future.The weird sisters conjure three apparitions that correctly predict what is to come.The third apparition says that Macbeth will be safe as long as the Birnam Wood never moves to Dunsinane.Macbeth is pretty sure that will never happen so he is quite confident here. ACT V "Bring me no more reports;let them fly all:Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane I cannot taint with fear.What's the boy Malcolm?Was he not born of woman?"(V,iii,1-4) When the battle comes,Macbeth does not even have any fear.He is really confident because of the witches' prophecy.He completely trusted the witches and shows that he does not afraid of Malcolm. "I pull in resolution,and begin to doubt the equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth;'Fear not,till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane',and now a wood comes toward Dunsinane.Arm,arm,and out!"(V,vi,42-46) When Macbeth see the Birnam wood comes toward Dunsinane.He begins to doubt the witches' prediction. "I will not yield,to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,and to be baited with the rabble's curse.Though Birna, wood be come to Dunsinane,and thou oppos'd,being of no woman born.Yet I will try the last."(V,vii,57-61) This quotation shows that Macbeth finally realise what he has done and how the witches tricked him.Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane and Macduff was not born in a natural birth but instead was "Untimely ripped" from his mother.Macbeth realise that he was absorbed in his own ambition and can not pull out of it. The theme fate vs. free will is shown in the play as Macbeth struggles through between fate and free will.He is tempted by the witches to commit his acts and has hard time taking control over his actions as he was absorbed in his own ambition.
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