Macbeth - the dilemma of whether to kill the King or not.

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Macbeth Essay

In the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, the character of Macbeth struggle with his conscience. The internal struggle within Macbeth regarding whether or not to kill the king causes his dilemma and this is further exaggerated through the central concerns of the battle of good and evil; the fall of man; equivocation and loyalty vs. ambition. Shakespeare engages our sympathy for Macbeth through the use of several expositions which effectively portray the dilemma that Macbeth faces.

One way through which the dilemma is created is through the witches prophecies. Until this point Macbeth has not even considered becoming king and he is introduced as a brave and valiant soldier who is trusted by the king. Macbeth is initially a very noble and good character but later on in the play we realise that his obsession with power turns him into an evil character. Macbeth is told by the witches that he will gain three titles:

“All hail Macbeth… Thane of Glamis

        All hail Macbeth… Thane of Cawdor

        All hail Macbeth, that shalt be kind hereafter”

The witches’ three prophecies are central to the downfall of Macbeth. He has the first title from birth and has also gained the second title but he is not aware of this. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to convey this. Macbeth makes it clear that it is equally unlikely that he will gain Thane of Cawdor as it is that he will become king and therefore he associates the two titles. The idea of being king makes Macbeth very unsettled and he immediately thinks about usurpation and “yields” to it showing that the great amount of power tempts him. This causes a moral dilemma within Macbeth as he is unsure whether to listen to his conscience or not.

Another way through which the dilemma within Macbeth is created is through the manipulation of his wife, Lady Macbeth. She is very power crazed and the conflicting emotions between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth represent the battle of good and evil. She forces him to question his morals by questioning his masculinity:

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        “And wakes it now, to look so green and pale

        ... Art thou afeard…live a coward”

Macbeth questions whether he really should go through with it and this gives us some hope as it looks as if good is winning over evil. We learn that his courage has vanished and Lady Macbeth manipulates him by emasculating him and asking if he is scared. Macbeth falls for Lady Macbeth’s manipulating ways and makes the decision to kill the king even though he is still uncertain about it. The fall of man takes place here as Macbeth is slowly changing from a ...

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