What is Macbeth's internal conflict? (only act 1 and 2)i know that i should talk about the murder of duncan and his guilt.. but what more can i say to enrich my essay?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth has a moral compass when the play opens (this will disappear later as murder after murder hardens him). Therefore, he is torn by internal conflict in the first two acts. He is ambitious, so he listens when the witches tell him he will become both Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland. When he becomes Thane of Cawdor shortly after the witches predict this, this whets his appetite for more power. He becomes convinced that he can become king and wants it now.

Yet, when push comes to shove, Macbeth's conscience and his wisdom come into conflict with his ambition. He feels deeply uncomfortable about murdering a good and "meek" king. Meek in Shakespeare's day didn't mean timid. It meant not violent or bloodthirsty. To murder any king, anointed by God to rule, is a terrible act, but murdering a good king is even worse.

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off

Not only is Duncan just and good, he has been personally generous to Macbeth. Duncan is his relative. Also, Duncan is staying under Macbeth's roof, which adds a burden of hospitality: a thane is expected to protect the guests under his roof, not kill them. Macbeth has a very bad feeling that no good can come of this act. He says,

He’s here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself.

Wisely, too, he realizes that murder will simply cause more and more murder. He knows that once he takes the first step, there's no going back. He will be awash in blood.

In fact, in spite of his earlier resolve to murder Duncan and seize the throne, his good sense returns, and he decides not to murder his king. It takes Lady Macbeth directly attacking his masculinity and saying she would dash her own baby's brain out if that was what she had promised to propel him toward the deed.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth's internal conflicts do deal with more than just his guilt, or specifically, his guilt is caused by specifics.

First, he, showing personality traits that present role reversal concerning genders, worries that Duncan has been a humble and fair ruler.  He wants the throne badly, but hates to assassinate someone who has treated him so well. 

He also hates to give up the reputation he has developed.  He's received honors from others in the recent past, and hates to jeopardize that by assassinating a king.

Finally, he worries about his eternal salvation.  He knows doing what he wants to do--assassinating Duncan--will cost him his salvation. 

Macbeth's internal conflicts are complex.  He is terribly ambitious, but he is also aware that what he wants to do and later does, is hideous.  It's even possible he's had the assassination of Duncan on his mind before the play opens, which would explain why he flinches when he first hears the prediction that he will be king from the witches:  it's possible he flinches because he knows what his being king will take. 

kjsingh | Student

The  conflict in mind as well as indecisiveness is conspicuously notable in the Macbeth . It is also one of the important theme of the novel. The internal conflict lands the Macbeth in the wavering decisiveness  about whether or not he should kill Duncan.  Afterwards, in spur of moment  he rashly decided to kill Banquo. This  initial indecisiveness leads to the downfall of the couple. This creation of an external hell also symbolically corresponds to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's internal suffering. The conflict-ridden   mind keeps  Macbeth in a  neurotic, relentless and  enraged state.