Did the Macbeths have any children?



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In Act I, scene vii, Lady Macbeth says to her husband, "I have given suck, and know/How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me" (I, vii, ll.54-55). The reference to a nursing baby is all the more striking given that Lady Macbeth has already called upon the powers of evil to unsex her and to "take my milk for gall" (I, iv., l.48), but aside from horrifying rhetoric, some critics have argued that the Macbeths had a child who is now dead. The textual evidence here is circumstantial: the Macbeths never discuss any lost children, but even in their private conversation, the Macbeths tend toward euphemisms, as when Lady Macbeth refers to the assassination scheme as an "enterprise." There is no conclusive answer to this question, but the notion that the Macbeths have lost a child does lend an additional dimension to their turn toward unnatural evil.

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