Key theme - Fate and Free will

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  • Fate and Free Will
    • Fate is the opposite of free will
      • Fate is the idea that everything has already been decided, so people can't change what happens to them.
      • Free will means that humans choose their own course of action, so the future is made up of the results of their own choices.
      • If it's fate that everything that happens is destined, then it's not M's fault that he murdered D. If free will exists, his own choices lead to his downfall.
      • The play raises a lot of questions, but Shakespeare doesn't reveal if it's M's fate to kill him.
    • You could say that Macbeth is doomed from the start
      • At times, M seems to believe in fate. After he hears the prophecies he seems happy to let fate take its course.
      • LM thinks M is fated to be King. Despite believing in fate, she decides that M must act to ensure it happens.
      • By the end of the play, M says that life is "a Poor player... upon the stage". He feels that people are no more than actors playing a part who aren't in control of their lives.
    • ...or that he acts out of his own free will
      • At first, M makes a deliberate choice not to kill Duncan. He weighs up the pros and cons, which suggests that he is in control.
      • Some of the prophecies are self-fulfilling. M only acts as he hears his future. This suggests he has free will.
      • Later, M acts on the phophecies despite Banquo's earlier warning. He could've done what Banquo does + accept  them without acting.

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