Violence, blood and death. The quintessential characteristics of war. Shakespeare's Macbeth is based on a war, but not your typical one. The real war in the play and the underlining factor leading to Macbeth's death, is not fought on a battlefield, there are no swords, and no soldiers to swing them. The real war is fought in Macbeth's mind. Macbeth's conscience and vaulting ambition alternate in controlling his actions throughout the play.
Many critics of the play believe that from the first scene to the last, Macbeth's character is unchanging, and that he is always governed by his greed, selfishness and evil. This is not so. Right from the outset of the story, Macbeth's indecisiveness is evident. In act I, Macbeth struggles a great deal in deciding whether or not to murder the king and take his throne. When Macbeth is first given the prophecy that he will be king, he dreads the thought of killing a man that has been like a father to him.
This shows that Macbeth has a conscience, and that deep down inside, he is a good person. When he arrives home to his kingdom though, he is greeted by Lady Macbeth who reveals her plan to make her husband King when she says:
"I will pour my spirits into thine ear,
And chastise with the valor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round."
(Iv, 24 - 26)
Macbeth's conscience tries to fight the constant attacks by his wife who insists that he should kill the king. Finally, Macbeth decides his fate, listens to the poisoned words of his wife and kills Duncan.
Immediately after the death of Duncan, Macbeth is completely overcome by guilt. For the moment, he forgets about the now empty throne, and can't comprehend what or why...