Did the Macbeths have any children?

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cmcqueeney's profile pic

Posted on

No the Macbeths do not have any children, and this becomes a significant factor in the play.  The witches predict that Macbeth will be king, but they then predict that Banquo's children will be king.  Because of this, they say that Banquo will not be as great as Macbeth, but much greater.  After Macbeth follows through with killing King Duncan, he realizes that he has defiled himself for no reason - Banquo will get all the benefit, because Macbeth's line will end with himself.  This realization leads Macbeth to murder and attempt to murder Banquo and his son Fleance.  His failure to kill Fleance allows the witches prophecies to come true - Banquo's descendants will take the thrown, and Macbeth's line ends.

It's also interesting to note that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's inability to have children affects their relationship negatively.  Macbeth blames Lady Macbeth for not producing children.  It is one of the factors that plays a part in the decline of their relationship throughout the play.

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jalden's profile pic

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Where do you see Macbeth blaming Lady M. for not having children?

amberlestrange's profile pic

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actually , yes they did have children. lady macbeth reveals this when she says

have given suck, and know How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you so she has had a child, presumidly it has died but these were normal circumstances. she is saying she would of rathered dashed her child's 'brains out' then lie. 
Wiggin42's profile pic

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I do no think so because that was really the whole point of the conflict. Macbeth resented the fact a that he'd be King but his successors would be Banquo's heirs. He went through the whole war and tyranny to ensure that Banquo's sons would not become the next rulers. If Macbeth had children, or was able to have children, he would not have gone through this whole plot.

francy17's profile pic

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No the Macbeths had no childern. Lady Macbeth was just saying that she is heart less and filled with evil so that she was prepared to do anything that would make her queen.

literarybiz's profile pic

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No Macbeth and Lady Macbeth did not have children.  Macbeth states when he realizes that the witches were being meddling fools that he did these acts for a "fruitless crown" meaning it will not be passed down through a lineage. 

On the earlier quote about Lady Macbeth saying "I have given suck, and know/How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me" (I, vii, ll.54-55), she is referring to the plan to kill Duncan -- not an actual living baby. She feels like she is a mother to the plan-- she has nursed the plan with evil--raised it--and when Macbeth does not want to follow through with killing Duncan, it is like he is killing her baby--which is her plan to become Queen. Her murderous plan is being personified as a baby nursing on her evil soul.

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eigo-no-sensei's profile pic

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If this were true, she would be saying that she would kill her own plan in order to fulfill her plan -- which makes precious little sense.

What's more, in Act I scene 5, she calls upon "you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts" to "unsex me here."  Which is to say that she sees the ability to plan and execute Duncan's murder as something of which a woman is not capable.  She even goes on to say, "Come to my woman's breasts / And take my milk for gall..."

It would be quite odd, then, if she were later to compare hatching a scheme to kill Duncan to giving birth to a child, and would use the term "the babe that milks me" when there would be no milk (only gall).  It's also unlikely that Shakespeare simply forgot Lady Macbeth's call to be relieved of all of her feminine characteristics and would then apply this conflicting metaphor.

Also, as a metaphor, these lines about murdering her own child have no power.  Where's the strength to be found in declaring that you would murder a child that doesn't exist?  The power of these lines comes from the fact that Lady Macbeth is talking about an actual child that she has actually nursed -- and her willingness to kill it if that were what was needed for her to get what she desires.

In fact, the historical Lady Macbeth DID have a child -- a son called Lulach -- but not by Macbeth.  Macbeth was her second husband and Lulach therefore Macbeth's step-son. So Lady Macbeth had a child even though Macbeth, strictly speaking, did not.

(In reality, Lulach succeeded Macbeth briefly before Malcom Canmore killed him at Essie, Aberdeenshire on 17 March 1058 -- unlike in the play where Malcom plans his own coronation almost immediately after Macbeth's demise.)

revolution's profile pic

Posted on

No, the Macbeths does not have any children, but some critics claimed by this sentence

"I have given suck, and know/How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me" (I, vii, ll.54-55),

that the Macbeths have a child that was already dead by now. But, in the story, there was no mention of a dead child or even in their conversations, there was not a brief whisper of anything regarding of children matters.

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jalden's profile pic

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I'm just jumping in anywhere with my reply because, in the text of Macbeth, an argument can be made either for them having children, or for them not having children. It is one of those lovely un-provables that adds to the richness and mystery of the pieces. There is no 'yes' or 'no' answer to this question that is legitimate. A case can be made for either. There is only, 'possibly' or 'probably not'.

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