Macbeth's indecision and internal conflict are lucidly introduced by Shakespeare. Illustrate.William Shakespeare's "Macbeth"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the opening act of "Macbeth," Macbeth's indecision and internal conflict are introduced in Scene 3 in which the elements suggest conflict as thunder roars over a heath in which Macbeth comments, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" (i,iii,37).  Then, after he hears the prediction of the witches, Macbeth thinks,

...Present fears/Are less than horrible imaginings./My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical/Shakes so my single state of man that function/Is smothered in surmise, and nothing is/But what is not.../If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me,/Without my stir. (I,iii,137-143)

Macbeth's conflicting thoughts continue through this act as he considers his appointment as Thane of Cawdor as a possible stepping stone:

...That is a step/On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,/For in my way it lies.  Stars, hide your fires;/Let not light see my black and deep desires (I,iv,48-51)

But when he ponders the next "stepping stone," Macbeth is conflicted in his intent to kill Duncan:

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/It were done quickly.  If th' assassination/Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,/With his surcease, success;  that but this blow /Might be the be-all and the end-all--(I,vii,1-5)

The conflict between Macbeth's "vaulting ambition" and his conscience continues throughout the rest of Shakespeare's play as, in guilt, Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost, expressing further his internal conflict:

Had I but died an hour before this chance,/I had lived a blessed time; for from this instant/There's nothing serious in mortality:/All is but toys.  Renown and grace is dead,/The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees/I s left this vault to brag of. (II,iii,97)