In Macbeth, how does Shakespeare present Macbeth in conflict?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There are two noticeable places in William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth which show the protagonist, Macbeth, in conflict.

First, after hearing about the prophecies, Macbeth seems concerned. When Ross and Angus meet Macbeth and Banquo, Macbeth questions them.

The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me in borrowed robes?

Here, Macbeth is certainly conflicted about the title he has just been given and the thought of the prophecies coming true. Prior to this, Banquo questions why Macbeth seems to fear the prophecies.

Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?

In both the quote spoken by Macbeth and the quote by Banquo, one can easily see Macbeth's initial internal conflict coming to the surface. He,quick to decide about what he is to do, states that "chance may crown" him. For now, his conflicted mind is at ease.

A second place in the play where Shakespeare shows Macbeth in conflict appears in Act III, scene ii:

O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!

Here, Shakespeare provides a very vivid picture of the internal conflict which Macbeth is dealing with.

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