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by William Shakespeare

Macbeth Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) from the Folger Shakespeare Library

Quote #1

And Fortune, on his damnèd quarrel smiling,
Show'd like a rebel's whore. But all's too weak;
For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name) 
Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution, (1.2.16-20)

Basically, the captain says here that Macbeth should have died in battle—but he was stronger than his fate. If this is true, then Macbeth has no one to blame but himself. But notice that the captain calls Macbeth "damned quarry": Macbeth may escape fortune this time, but that "rebel's whore" will get him in the end. (Hey, Shakespeare's words, not ours.)

Quote #2

All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!

All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter! (1.3.51-53)

Million-dollar question: are the witches (1) playing on Macbeth's ambition and planting the idea of murder in his head; (2) really privy to some secret info about the way things are going to go down; or (3) actually controlling fate in some way?

Quote #3

Look, how our partner's rapt. (1.3.156)

"Rapt" comes from the Latin word "raptus," which means to be "seized" or "kidnapped." (Brain snack: It's the same word that gives us "rape," which clues you into the way that women were viewed as property—rape was a crime against a man's property rather than a crime against a woman.) But back to the play: if Macbeth is "rapt," then he's been "seized" by something outside of his control. Does that mean we let him off the hook?

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