What are the conflicts in "Macbeth"? Do they include conflicts : a) vs. other characters b) vs. himself c) vs. supernatural forces d) vs. society What sort of internal and external conflicts...

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reidalot's profile pic

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There are many conflicts in Macbeth. First and foremost is Man vs. Himself (internal) which involves the elements of the supernatural. Macbeth hears the three weird sisters hint that he will be King. From then on, he is conflicted about his murder of Duncan, for Macbeth begins as a good, honest warrior. However, his baser instinct, that of ambition, wins, and he becomes a murderer. His conscience seems to overcome guilt, yet Lady Macbeth is also in conflict with her own conscience and loses as she commits suicide.

Next, Man vs. Man can be seen in Macbeth against Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff; of course, he kills all but Macduff who is destined to free Scotland from the bloody tyrant, Macbeth. The outward fighting/killing is external while the actual murder of Duncan and Banquo are, at first, internal problems for Macbeth!

thanatassa's profile pic

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The nature of the conflicts change over the course of the play. The play opens with the three witches prophesying that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and eventually King of Scotland. In this scene, Macbeth and Banquo struggle against supernatural temptation which speaks to the worst parts of their characters. 

In the next scene, we hear the results of the recently ended civil war in which Macdonwald had rebelled against the leadership of King Duncan and Macbeth had distinguished himself for his bravery in suppressing the rebellion. Although this is an external conflict, it has already been resolved with the victory of Duncan's forces. 

The next major conflict we encounter is an internal struggle in which Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth are trying to steel themselves to kill Duncan. Although Lady Macbeth is prepared to commit the murder herself, she cannot quite bring herself to do it, stating:

Hark! I laid their daggers ready;

He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done't.

Both husband and wife struggle internally to overcome a natural repugnance to killing someone who has been quite kind to them and is a good king. Obviously, there is another conflict here between Macbeth and Duncan, as Duncan is an obstacle to Macbeth becoming King.

As Macbeth becomes an increasing ruthless tyrant, he comes into conflict with Banquo and later with Macduff and Malcolm. 


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