How are the internal and external conflicts in Macbeth and Animal Farm similar and different?
One common theme in Animal Farm and Macbeth is that men/pigs will desire power above all else. Macbeth becomes so obsessed with power that he consigns himself to kill anyone who poses as a threat to his reign. Napoleon similarly changes the rules on the barn to keep the other animals oppressed enough to allow him to continue.
Just using Napoleon and Macbeth as examples of conflict:
Externally, Macbeth is influenced by the suggestive ambitions of his wife and reacts with reckless violence to the visions of the witches. Internally, he is conflicted throughout the play: his own ambition for power and his fear of losing it and the increasing guilt, most notable in his hallucination of Banquo, which becomes a kind of internal and external influence.
Napoleon, on the other hand, does not seem conflicted at all. Initially, he, like the other animals, is oppressed by Farmer Jones to the point where they take up the revolution. Once he gains all power and ousts Snowball (comparable to Macbeth’s killing of Banqo), he does not seem to be internally or externally conflicted. Napoleon does everything to maintain his power and this includes making enemies or friends; as he does with Frederick and Pilkington.
In both Animal Farm and Macbeth, the characters battle with conflicts that have stemmed from their extreme ambition. In Animal Farm, Napoleon desires power, and he goes about changing the rules by which the animals have agreed to live in order to put himself in charge. As the story progresses, the animals fear Napoleon and do not want to cross his path even though they know that there are problems with his rule. This extreme ambition, however, leads Napoleon to his downfall.
Similarly, Macbeth is driven by his extreme sense of ambition to take control of Scotland. Like Napoleon, Macbeth has many people murdered to protect his position as the supreme authority. This causes many conflicts in Scotland, and ultimately, most of the Thanes leave his side to go and fight for Malcolm and the English army. In the end, both Napoleon and Macbeth are undone by the conflicts that they have created.