In the play Macbeth,what ideas does Shakespeare develop regarding dilemmas?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play Macbeth is wrought with dilemmas and these cause characters to have serious internal conflicts.  For example, early in the play, Macbeth is faced with the dilemma over whether or not to kill King Duncan.  On one hand, he really wants to be king and have the witches' prediction come true, but he realizes that Malcolm has just been named Prince of Cumberland and is therefore the heir to the throne.  He does not see how he can become king if Malcolm is in the way.  Macbeth's dilemma is further complicated when he reveals his problems to Lady Macbeth--she wants him to be less cowardly and go after his ambitions so she chides his manhood and tells him that he would be more of a man if he were to kill the king to take his title.  Macbeth's dilemma then questions his moral character:  does he follow his ambition or does he respect Duncan's life and rule?  Shakespeare couches Macbeth's dilemma in the tension between fate and free will--should Macbeth allow fate to control his life or should he act to get what he wants?