What does Macbeth's refusal to return to the room reveal about the conflict?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that Macbeth does not want to go back into the room where he murdered Duncan shows that he is feeling an internal conflict about killing the king.                                                                      

An internal conflict is a conflict a character has within him or herself.  In this case, Macbeth is feeling guilt over having killed the king.  He did not really want to do it, but his wife talked him into it.  Now that it is done, he is especially upset. 

When Macbeth returns with the daggers after killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth tells him to wash his hands because they are all bloody.  Then Lady Macbeth scolds her husband for not leaving the daggers in the chamber with Duncan.  

LADY MACBETH

Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.

MACBETH

I'll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on't again I dare not. (Act 2, Scene 2)

Macbeth refuses to go back because he does not want to look at what he has done.  He is already feeling guilty.  He tells her that he thought he heard one of them call him a murderer.  Never gung-ho about the plan to begin with, Macbeth is really feeling the effects of his actions. 

Although he is able to pull it together and convince everyone that the servants killed Duncan, and the king's sons Malcolm and Donalbain are complicit, things do not get easier for Macbeth.  He has another crisis of conscience when he kills Banquo.  He had Banquo killed because he thought he was suspicious of Macbeth's actions with King Duncan's death, but then at the banquet Banquo was supposed to have attended, he thought he saw his ghost.  It was a manifestation of his guilty conscience.

Macbeth's internal conflict, his guilt and lack of self-confidence, will follow him throughout the play.  It will eventually be his downfall.  First Lady Macbeth, ironically, succumbs to her guilt. She loses her mind.  Macbeth is not far behind.  By the time he is defending his castle against Malcolm, his heart is no longer in it.

 

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