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In Macbeth, what is the internal struggle of Macbeth that forms a central conflict of...

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kandilone19 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 20, 2009 at 6:49 AM via web

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In Macbeth, what is the internal struggle of Macbeth that forms a central conflict of this play? 


im just confussed beacuse i get only 4 answers to this question but just dont know which one? I was thinking it was his loyalty to Duncan and his ambition to be king and his crowdliness and his wife's bravery?or eaither one? and or his hatred of Duncan and his desire to be king.

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

Posted February 20, 2009 at 7:56 AM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth's main internal conflict has to do with his struggle with unchecked ambition combined with guilt. 

Macbeth's unchecked ambition is to be king. Even though he wants to be King, he is, overall, a moral, loyal subject. He is rewarded by Duncan given the title Thane of Cawdor for his bravery on the battlefield. 

That is why Macbeth struggles internally between ambition and guilt. Part of him really doesn't want to kill Duncan, his conscience knows that he will be tormented with guilt if he commits the murder.  After Duncan arrives at his home, he is agitated with anxiety over whether he should kill him.  He really thinks through his decision, he will not kill the king. 

Then Lady Macbeth gets ahold of him, accusing him of being less than a man if he does not take the chance presented by the king's visit.  She taunts him with the idea that she is more of a man than he is, and that he really does not love her if he does not give this to her, becoming queen.  Lady Macbeth stirs her husband enough that he goes into a bloody rage.

He commits the murder and just as he suspected, he is tormented by his conscience.  He begins to have hallucinations, and develops a terrible fear in the form of paranoia, believing that everyone is out to kill him and take his crown. 

This behavior sets him on a course of murder that includes killing Banquo, his friend, and the entire family of Macduff, all in an effort to prevent them from being able to succeed him now or in the future.      

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