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Fate plays a significant role in the Old English epic poem Beowulf and William Shakespeares play Macbeth The major events of the poem such as the three killings by Beowulf and his own death are said to have been predestined In Macbeth fate is so significant that it is personified by the Weird Sisters who drive the action of the play But if predestination exists then there must be an agent that determines destiny In Beowulf God plays this role and fate is generally accepted as Gods will In John Gardners Grendel a novel which serves as a commentary on the poem fate is totally predetermined and is the will of no being By contrast Macbeths agents of fate are the Witches who generally go against Gods will In all three works fate plays a powerful role as it did in many prescientific cultures Fate is a necessary element in these peoples lives so that they can have some means of justifying aspects of their existence However the fatal agents in the works differ in looking at this one must keep in mind that the three works were written in vastly different time periods for different audiences and for different purposes Beowulf was intended to convert people to Christianity It cannot be a true story since it takes place in the sixth century Raffel 150 four centuries before Christianity came to Scandinavia Creed 141 Most scholars agree that it was written by a Christian in order to show how the belief in God can overcome evil Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606 for a Christian audience perhaps in an attempt to impress the new king James I Since King James was an expert on witchcraft Shakespeare gave the Witches a significant role in the play Finally Grendel was written in 1971 in an era where fate was not acknowledged as being important and thus fate is not very significant in the novel However the work
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