Shakespeare’s Villains? Macbeth – A Question of Fate

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This blog is the first of a 10 week series on Shakespeare’s Villains, each Wednesday we will publish a blog here on Blogging Shakespeare looking at the character and each Thursday you will be able to find out more on Finding Shakespeare where they will use our collections to offer a unique insight into the villain of the week. We begin this week with Macbeth.

Are you ambitious? What would you most like to achieve? And what would you do to achieve it…? Would you sacrifice the things you loved? Would you tell a little lie? Or perhaps even a big one? Would you allow someone else to fall so you could climb? Perhaps, these are all things done by those we know about either personally or through the media. Why do people do these things to achieve their ambitions? Perhaps it is because we have a deep rooted belief that we must work for our dreams, that without effort success is unlikely.

And yet many of us believe in fate. We think the path of our lives is mapped out that some people are destined for good things and others for bad.  Many of us visit fortune tellers of one kind or another (even if half in jest) to try and discover our fate, ‘will we be happy, will we be rich? Que Sera, Sera’.

Do you believe in fate? If you were told that you were fated to achieve your ambitions, does that mean you don’t have to do anything in order to achieve them?  Whilst that is the logical conclusion to the principle of fate, most people prefer to be active participants in their fate, rather than passive victims of it.

If your greatest dream is to be a great singer, a fantastic chef, the best ever mother or to become King, most of us probably think that some kind of effort will be required to achieve that dream. From practicing day and night, putting yourself forward at every opportunity to reading a lot of books or killing the person who is currently king.

Hang on you say that’s not acceptable! Whilst many of us would do something slightly unscrupulous to achieve our ends we would – I hope – stop short of murder. But although the act may be extreme most of us probably understand Macbeth’s motivation.

As I suggested above, however much we believe in fate we are unwilling to leave our destiny entirely to it. Like Macbeth, even if we are told that we are fated to achieve our ambitions we still believe we must work for those ambitions. OK, so for us that is more likely to mean that we will still practice our skills even if we are told we are fated to be great, but the principle, if not the action is similar. Even when promised his dreams Macbeth works to achieve them.

Wouldn’t you?

Find out more on Thursday 9th of June on Finding Shakespeare.


























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Author:Liz Dollimore

Someone who loves listening to people talk about Shakespeare Liz tweets at @shakespeareBT
  • Nastinter

    It reminds me of an 1865 novel of Nikolai Leskov. It is called Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. The main character is Katerina. She’s got a husband, but she doesn’t love him as he is always busy. The woman is bored in her empty house. She falls in love with a farmhand Sergei. They become lovers, they want love, money, freedom…and they can do everything to achieve their goals. And they do – they kill Katerina’s father-in-law, her husband…and even little boy Fedya, Katerina’s relative (he is a heir who can get Katerina’s money). But the crime is revealed. Sergei pleads guilty and blames Katerina, she confirms – everything she has done, she has done for Sergei. Sergei and Katerina are sent to Siberia. Sergei get a new lover in prison – a young girl Sonetka. They together mock Katerina. She did all for Sergei – and he’s betrayed her… The convoy of the convicts arrives at a river and boards a ferry. Sudennly Katerina grabs Sonetka and jumps to the water. They both drown. Such a story about a too purposeful woman.

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