Q:

What is the conflict in "Macbeth"?

A:

Quick Answer

Macbeth has two major conflicts. The first is the internal conflict between his morals and his ambition, exemplifying the conflict of Man versus Himself. The second is the struggle between individual's evil interests, personified by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth; and the best interests of the nation, personified by Malcolm and Macduff, or the conflict of Man versus Man. Both conflicts evolve simultaneously throughout the rising action of the play.

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Full Answer

Macbeth's internal conflict between his morals and his ambition begin with the witches' prophecies. Initially, he finds the witches' prophecies to be unbelievable, but when Ross greets him with the title Thane of Cawdor, which the witches had already prophesied, he wonders if he will have to commit a terrible act to fulfill the ambition the witches have planted. He struggles with this internal conflict throughout Act I and into Act II. The conflict is evidenced by the bloody dagger hallucination, his soliloquy and dialogue with Lady Macbeth, where she spurs him to commit the murder; and his mental breakdown after the murder, when he declares his hands will never be clean. This conflict resolves by Act IV, when Macbeth recognizes he does not deserve any of the benefits of old age.

The second conflict, ostensibly between Macbeth and Macduff, is an external conflict in which Macduff desires the best for Scotland and at no point believes that best to be Macbeth. Macduff shows his disdain for Macbeth by refusing to attend Macbeth's crowning and never dining at Macbeth's castle. The conflict escalates as Macbeth has Macduff's family killed while Macduff is England trying to gather forces to depose Macbeth. It then culminates in a one-on-one battle between Macduff and Macbeth, which Macduff ultimately wins.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How does Lady Macbeth explain Macbeth's behavior?

    A:

    Lady Macbeth accounts for Macbeth's behavior in William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," by saying that he has had this kind of behavior since he was child, and even has seizures during these moments. She essentially tries to explain his behavior away as a mental illness. This occurs during Act 3, Scene 4, when they attend a feast and Macbeth alone sees the ghost of Banquo.

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  • Q:

    What do the witches in "Macbeth" represent?

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    The three witches in "Macbeth" represent evil and darkness. The witches demonstrate the external evil forces working against Macbeth specifically, but that allegorically may influence any person. They are also a metaphorical reflection of the darkness within Macbeth himself.

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  • Q:

    What happens at the end of Macbeth?

    A:

    At the end of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth commits suicide, Macduff kills Macbeth and Malcolm is hailed King of Scotland. Throughout the 11 scenes in Act V, Macbeth and his wife show that their sanity has been compromised while Macduff, Malcolm and an English-Scottish coalition prepare to war against the castle. Macbeth exceedingly relies on the Weird Sisters' predictions regarding his future, and Lady Macbeth begins sleepwalking as guilt torments her.

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  • Q:

    What is Macbeth's tragic flaw?

    A:

    Macbeth's tragic flaw is his ambition. He is willing to do anything it takes to become the king, and his wife encourages his evil deeds.

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