Shakespeare’s Macbeth is
often considered one of literature’s greatest tragedies, not only because of
Macbeth’s tragic fall from grace, but because of how the play relates to human
nature and the conflicts inherent in human nature. In your initial post, please
do the following:
State a conflict that you see
present in Macbeth (please refer to the list of
Respond to one of the following
and provide specific textual examples:
Describe a key conflict in the
play and how it corresponds to a character’s development.
Describe two key literary
techniques and elements of drama that aid in developing the conflict.
Explain how the conflict
identified in the play relates to human nature and the human condition.
Initial post must be 300 words inENG125 – Types of Conflicts Found in Literature.pdf literary elements_techniques.docxENG125: Introduction to Literature
Types of Conflicts Found in Literature
Below is a list of possible conflicts found in literature. Select each conflict to learn more. To help you
better understand each conflict and how it might be apparent, examples from popular culture have been
provided. Please also note that it is possible for a text to have more than one conflict at work. The
repeated references to conflicts in The Simpsons provide further context on how multiple conflicts might
be present in a single work. Other examples of conflict are also provided.
Click on each type of conflict to learn more.
Individual versus Individual
Individual versus Nature
Individual versus Society
Individual versus Technology
Individual versus Self
Individual versus Individual (Kahn vs. Captain Kirk, Tom vs. Jerry)
Example: Homer Simpson’s profound dislike of Ned Flanders in The Simpsons is
unavoidably obvious. The two men are as different as night and day. Though Ned Flanders
seems unaware that he is Homer Simpson’s antagonist, to everyone who watches, it is
obvious that Ned plays this role.
Example: One of the funniest movies about individuals opposing each other is called The
Ref, where a cat burglar gets caught in a house with a warring husband and wife. Other
members of this dysfunctional family also add to the conflict. View The Ref (1994) fan
trailer or explore the film on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).
ENG125: Introduction to Literature
Individual versus Nature
Example: One of the first episodes of The Simpsons features a hilarious scenario in which
Homer takes the family camping in the woods. Things end disastrously for Homer and Bart,
while Marge, Lisa, and Maggie successfully brave the wild. This episode has an interesting
underlying argument at work about the relationship between humans today and nature.
Example: Several books and movies show mountain climbers daring to scale the most
formidable and highest mountains on earth where they face extremely difficult climates and
terrain. These accounts are usually full of adventure, action, and hardship. Here is an
example of human versus mountain in the video Touching the Void Atheism. You may also
explore the article “Mt. Everest: Why do people keep climbing it?”
Example: Many horror films feature scary and dangerous animals. One of the most popular
movies of all time is Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Watch Crows Attack the Students – The
Birds (6/11) Movie CLIP (1963) HD.
Example: One of the most famous American novels, Moby Dick, features Captain Ahab
determined to kill the large white whale that took his leg.
Individual versus Society (V for Vendetta, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1984)
Example: In The Simpsons, Homer has had infamously hilarious interactions with
politicians. Mayor Quimby comes across as less than effective in his work. As a figure who
represents the political system in The Simpsons universe, Quimby’s portrayal makes an
argument about the conflict between the individual and society. Additionally, the economics
of the working-class Simpson family is often framed against the wealth of Mr. Burns,
McBain, and other affluent figures.
Example: A recent movie, Belle, is about a black woman brought up free in an aristocratic
home during the years of slavery in England. The story features Belle, the protagonist, and a
young lawyer engaged in challenging and ending the slave trade. Belle’s struggle also
involves challenging social conceptions of race. Watch the Belle Trailer to explore further.
ENG125: Introduction to Literature
Individual versus Technology (2001: A Space Odyssey, Modern Times, The Fly)
Example: In The Simpsons, Homer is the safety technician at a nuclear power plant, but he is
perpetually doing extremely dangerous things. The technology itself is portrayed as
immensely complicated. Even in an animated sitcom like The Simpsons, the message about
technology and the human being in our current era is multi-layered and complicated.
Example: The best man versus technology movie ever (according to many) is The
Terminator, which tells the story of a lethal robot sent back in time to murder the mother of
the human army’s leader. View the trailer Terminator 1 Trailer 1984 or explore the Internet
Movie Database (IMDB).
Example: The novel Frankenstein can fit in this category since the monster is man-made and
seeks to destroy its creator.
Individual versus Self (John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, Gregory House in House, Homer Simpson in The
Simpsons, Hamlet in Hamlet)
Example: In The Simpsons, Homer Simpson is perpetually at battle with himself—his eating
habits, his drinking habits, his tendency toward laziness—you name it. He always acts
against his own best interests.
Example: In the movie American History X, Edward Norton plays a man who must confront
his prejudices, which he does when he is sent to prison for murdering another man. The
trailer, American History X – Trailer – (1998) – HQ, shows the character’s personal
transformation. You may also explore this further on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).
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