How does Shakespeare represent Macbeth as a conflicted character and/or one who shows confused and mutually inconsistent feelings?

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Shakespeare illustrates Macbeth's conflicted nature and inconsistent feelings through his asides and soliloquies. After receiving the seemingly favorable prophecy that he will become the king of Scotland and discovering that he is now the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth begins to contemplate assassinating King Duncan. In act 1, scene 3, Macbeth reveals his conflicted feelings during an aside by saying,

This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings. (1.3.134–141)

Macbeth recognizes that there are positive elements to the prophecy, but he also acknowledges that he is now contemplating the king's assassination, which is unsettling and frightening. Essentially, Macbeth is enthusiastic about becoming king...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 984 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 17, 2019
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