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What conflict rages in Macbeth after he hears the witches prophecy? What resolution to...

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pakalolo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2011 at 3:15 PM via web

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What conflict rages in Macbeth after he hears the witches prophecy? What resolution to this conflict does Macbeth express in his aside, in Scene 4

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 20, 2011 at 12:11 AM (Answer #1)

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Clearly Macbeth is excited to hear the prophecy about becoming king, but he has no understanding of how it could possibly come true.  After the second prophecy of becoming Thane of Cawdor comes to being, he is even more enthralled with the possibility of being king.  He admits to having a "horrid image" in his mind which scares him.

Thus, the conflict arises of how he will become king.  He knows that he is, at best, third in line to the throne behind Duncan's sons.  Therefore, he will have to commit a murder to become the king.  This is the aforementioned "horrid image." 

The reader knows that Macbeth is resolving his mind to committing a crime in his aside.  In this scene, Duncan has just formally named his son Prince of Cumberland, indicating officially what most already knew - that Malcolm will be king next.    After hearing his, Macbeth rages to himself: 

The Prince of Cumberland!  That is a step                On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,            For in my way it lies.

This statement indicates his intention to act upon the prophesy, which he calls his "black and deep desires."  He seems ready to kill.

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