Here in Macbeth there is conflict throughout; whether that be internally or externally. MB struggles particularly with the internal one as there are many opposing demands and impulses. This can be summarised as Man versus Self. The External conflict are more wide ranging with struggles between dramatic characters and outside forces. They can be summarised as Man vs Man, Supernatural+ Fate
In conclusion, it is evident that conflict is a pre-dominant theme running throughout the course of the play. We can see that MB tries to stop all conflicts by killing people but as tries to stop conflicts he creates more. Eventually he cannot get himself out and it ends in a massive conflict, where finally good triumphs over evil.
WS – William Shakespeare
MB – Macbeth
LM – Lady Macbeth
IC – Internal Conflict
EC – External Conflict
Man vs Fate
• From the start of the play we can see MB unlike Banquo, who just lets fate runs it course, tries to master fate. However this doesn’t work. He has tried o master it once and now he must do it every time.
• He then becomes very obsessed with fate and becomes delusional and doesn’t reaise that the witch’s predictions were only half-truths and that to become King he would have to suffer a great deal. The play ends in him being killed after a huge conflict both with himself and others.
Man vs Self
• Macbeth struggles with the concept of killing Duncan. IC comes from he wants to be king but knows it is immoral.
o ‘as his host who should against the murderer shut the door, not bear the knife’ – Irony he knows his role is to protect king.
• MB chooses murder and betrayal over loyalty to further ambition.
• Lady Macbeth shows little remorse when betraying Duncan. However in Act 5 she begins to feel guilty and IC drives her insane. She starts to sleepwalk and carry a light.
o ‘What, will these hands ne’er be clean’ – Rhetorical Question
• Through asking the question she realises that she has caused irreparable damage and there can never be a solution.
• Wicked actions have changed her and IC leads to her death. Example of Sopoclean Tragedy.
• MB again battles IC when dealing with Banquo. Banquo suggests that there may be truth in Witches predictions.
o ‘What, can the devil speak truth’ – Oxymoron is very powerfully used to show that in the same way as the devil doesn’t speak truth with the witches everything is inverted and changed as they neither speak truth.
• Banquo’s conscience is pricked ad he worries MB believes witches predictions and both are now suspicious of each other.
• Act 1 Sc3 L116 MB starting to think about becoming king ‘the greatest’. Superlative used to show that MB wants to become the most, all powerful but he knows to get there he would have to do immoral things. He has a conflict in his mind over which he wants more. Has he desire to do what’s right or be greatest?
• (Later in L124-125 ‘Win us … consequence’ – tell us truths about small things and lie about the big ones.)
• ‘Is to receive our duties, and our duties are to your throne’ – WS uses repetition to help us understand that MB repeats duties because his mind is so engrossed with the fact that this is his duty and his betrayal is conflicting with his conscience and he is insecure.
• (‘Safe toward they love and honour’ – couplet shows us that he is trying get out of doing it and is still convincing himself.)
• LM conscience wins out and she kills herself ‘the Queen … is dead’- good person brought down by evil powers.
• Visual device of personification is effectively used as the eye is personified. The eye will close not to look at the actions of the hand and is therefore making a conscience decision. In the end when the terrible deed is done, the eye will be horrified and fear for the hands actions. The conflict between how the parts of his body feel about the murder (eye-fearful and hand-willing) reflects the conflict in his conscience.
• In Act 1 Scene 7 WS uses hyperbole ‘Plauge th’inventor’. This shows the internal conflict he is facing about killing Duncan. The hyperbole emphasis the extreme turmoil he is going through as he is about to do the deed.
• The simile ‘great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels’ shows us that Duncan was a great king. He was compared to angels. Macbeth is battling IC because he knows people loved Duncan and he has a high standard to follow.
• He changes his mind many times during this Scene and by the end he has done a full roundabout turn. This shows the amount of IC he is facing and his difficulties.
Man vs Supernatural
• At this time (1600’S) people would have believed in witches. It is set in a ‘desolate place’ which would have been very stereotypically and the audience would have been excited and expected witches to appear.
• Conflict between man and the supernatural is evident as the witches are potraed to even be in control of the weather. Pathetic Fallacy is used in the form of ‘thunder and lightning’ this creates a dark scene for the witches.
• Here we can see the supernatural forces inferring and battling with nature and foreshadows a conflict between man and supernatural.
• Throughout the play witches are in conflict with man. Unlike man they frequently do not speak in Iambic Pentameter, this variation is deliberate as they love to create chaos and conflict for man; and will not conform. These actions cause chaos.
• In Act 1 Scene 3 MB and the Supernatural conflict with the Supernatural winning when it says MB was ‘wrapped with awe’. He has succumb to their charms; this is evident through the commanding direct address as he says ‘Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more’.
• He knows that it is wrong but he cannot help himself as he has such vanity and ego. This shows the conflict between the two as he is trying to resist.
• The witches’ predictions torment MB as in Act 3 Scene 1 he cries ‘fruitless crown … barren scepter’. This visual imagery shows us that he is very annoyed that if the predictions are true he cannot pass down his crown to his heirs.
• This causes unrest between Banquo and MB; this conflict originated in the prediction of the supernatural powers showing the conflict.
• Throughout the play many Motifs are used. Especially when supernatural events happen. In Act 1 Scene 3 the weather appears awful (foul) but it has been a successful day for MB (fair)
• MB is a great warrior and hero (fair) but his downfall is his ambition (foul) MB successful in becoming King (fair) but at the cost of Duncan (foul).
• This shows the conflicts that the witches while they brought him good the supernatural always brings bad as well. It brings him into conflict with other men and itself.
Man vs Man
• Letter is a dramatic device because the audience is intrigued + interested in what’s written.
• Through the direct address used here ‘you shall put… into my dispatch’ we can clearly see that LM is trying to control MB. She is a very controlling figure however both in the end want ultimate power which creates conflict. She gives him a direct command but he will not listen and this evidently shows conflict.
• In Act 1 Scene 7 the conflict between the two goes backwards and forwards. However there is a definite shift in pace and energy when LM directly confronts him with a Rhetorical Question. ‘Why have you left the chamber’ we can see her assertiveness.
• However by the end of the play the roles are inverted, MB is then in control. At the time it would have been unheard of for a woman to be controlling a man but many things are inverted here. Meanwhile, by the end everything has changed and is back to normal.
• LM then attacks him when he will ‘proceed no further’. She appeals to his emotions by attacking his masculinity ‘durst do it, you were a man’. This appeal to the emotions aims to guilt trip and belittle MB into doing it.
• She also mentions how ‘had I so sworn As you have done to this’ she would have carried it through. Through this ugly argument we can see the depth of hatred and conflict.
• LM still stirs up MB conscience even though she has none of her own and MB tells her ‘Prithee, peace’ in which he says keep quiet. This Forceful command show the conflict in the relationship.
• LM and Duncan is a pivotal conflict. LM is very deceitful and gives a loyal and humble appearance. The visual image ‘we rest your hermits’ is also used to impress Duncan as she gives the impression that she is religious. This is hypocrisy as she is flattering him with compliments but she knows she will do him wrong by plotting to kill him.
• LM is a catalyst for the pivotal conflict between MB and Duncan. The Hypocrisy is clear in MB’s statement ‘The service and the loyalty I owe, In doing it, pays itself’. He speaks greatly about loyalty when he isn’t loyal.
• Iambic Pentameter is shown ‘More is thy due than more than can pay’. Here Duncan is fooled and naïve about MB intentions and doesn’t see the danger. MB is in conflict with Duncan and he is flattering him in order for Duncan to trust MB and he can then kill him.
• MB says that ‘I’ll be myself… with your approach’. Here WS wants us to know that they aren’t actually happy because they want to kill him. This is deception and the Irony is that she will only be happy when Duncan is killed, this shows the darkness of the conflict.
• WS uses the Aside ‘The eye wink at the hand’, through this WS intends us to know that MB is scheming how to kill Duncan this explains the depth of the conflict and how bad the relationship has deteriorated to as he is going to kill.
• MB and Banquo also have conflict in the play. MB speaks that Banquo is ‘royalty of nature’. Here this allusion is used to remind of the witches predictions, this really annoys MB because he knows that he cannot pass on his crown and it will be taken by Banquo’s sons.
• MB knows Banquo is noble and loyal to the crown. He also knows about the predictions and if he kills Duncan, Banquo will be suspicious. This will cause a lot of trouble for MB. So he fears Banquo and that is why the conflict arises.