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In "The Tragedy of Macbeth," please explain Macbeth's conflict.

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behsame2003 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 31, 2009 at 8:17 PM via web

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In "The Tragedy of Macbeth," please explain Macbeth's conflict.

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mshurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 31, 2009 at 9:15 PM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth experiences both internal and external conflicts. At the beginning of the play, he feels a strong internal conflict concerning the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth wants the crown, but the idea of killing Duncan to gain power fills him with fear and loathing. Macbeth has always served Duncan faithfully and fought for him bravely. The king has rewarded Macbeth for his loyalty by making him Thane of Cawdor. Duncan trusts Macbeth without question. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that their plan to kill Duncan will proceed no further, but his ambition overcomes his conscience and the king is brutally murdered.

Macbeth's external conflict pits him against those who intend to overthrow him after he has assumed the throne. Duncan's sons, Malcom and Donalbain, and Macduff all become convinced that Macbeth murdered Duncan. Furthermore, Macduff has special reason to destroy Macbeth because Macbeth has murdered Macduff's family and servants. They join forces to attack Macbeth's castle. They are able to raise a large army against Macbeth because he has become a despised tyrant in addition to being an illegitimate monarch. This conflict is resolved when Macbeth's castle is captured and Macbeth is beheaded by Macduff

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 1, 2009 at 1:11 AM (Answer #2)

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Macbeth experiences a crisis of conscience once he kills Duncan, which results in a sense of overwhelming guilt.   He is tormented from the very first moment that he is crowned.

Macbeth does not enjoy his time as king.  His mental stability begins to deteriorate when he is celebrating his ascension to the throne.  At this celebratory dinner, he is confronted by the ghost of Banquo, his latest victim.  From that time on, he experiences extreme paranoia, believing that everyone is out to get him.  He has no peace, he can't sleep, he can't eat, and he loses his loving relationship with Lady Macbeth, as he isolates himself emotionally, drawn into a private hell dominated by fear of losing his crown.

His conflict is so extreme, he is at war both internally and externally, literally with the forces of nature which have been distured by Macbeth's act of regicide, killing a rightful and just king. 

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