What happens to Lady Macduff and her children in Act 4?

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honestabe | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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To put it bluntly, all are brutally killed by Macbeth's henchmen.  You see, once Macbeth obtains the crown, he becomes more and more obsessed with holding on to power.  As a result, he vows to eliminate anyone who he feels is a threat to him.  With that in mind, he knows that Macduff has gone into hiding, and Macbeth is afraid Macduff in plotting against him.  In an effort to draw Macduff back to Scotland (he is in England trying to convince Duncan's son Malcolm to join him in a rebellion against Macbeth -- he really is plotting against him), Macbeth dispatches assassins to kill Macduff's family.

The killing of Macduff's family is one of the more bloody acts in the play.  Lady Macduff begins the scene complaining that her husband has gone away and left her all alone -- she even suggests she might leave him and find another man to replace him.  Her son says he sees through her complaints and points out she still really does love Macduff.  After this exchange, Maceth's men swoop down upon them and kill them both -- first Lady Macduff and then her son (after she told him to run away).

So, by this point in the play, all of Macduff's family is dead -- murder by his kinsman turned enemy Macbeth.

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