In Macbeth, who dies as a result of Macbeth's actions?

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bree1225 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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All of the action of the play is a direct result of decisions that Macbeth makes. First, Macbeth is pressured into killing King Duncan by Lady Macbeth. She uses all her feminine powers and wifely guilt to encourage him to take what the witches have prophesized for him.   After killing the king, Macbeth also kills “those of [Duncan’s] chamber” (at least two more) out of what he explains is his grief and fury.  Macbeth hires murderers to kill Banquo, Fleance, Lady Macduff, and her children.  Macbeth has his best friend Banquo killed because Banquo's children were said to be future Kings, something Macbeth does not want to happen. The fact that Banquo's son escapes helps to make the prophecy come true despite what Macbeth does to try to stop it.

We learn in Act V that “the Queen, my lord, is dead.”  Therefore, Lady Macbeth has died as a result of her guilt and as an indirect result of Macbeth's actions.  Lady Macbeth would not have committed suicide if she hadn’t convinced Macbeth to murder Duncan.  Macbeth then personally kills Young Siward, the Earl of Northumberland’s son. Macbeth dies at the hand of Macduff, because of all the terrible things he has done to people around him. So, he is infact, responsible for his own demise. Macbeth is directly or indirectly responsible for 10 deaths in the play.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The short answer to this question is that everyone who dies in Macbeth does so as a direct or an indirect result of the main character's actions.  The deaths begin in Act II when Macbeth himself murders Duncan as he sleeps.  After killing the king, Macbeth also kills “those of [Duncan’s] chamber” (at least two more) out of what he explains is his grief and fury.  Macbeth then dispatches murderers to kill Banquo, Fleance, Lady Macduff, and her children.  Fleance is the only one who escapes, a very important point considering the witches prophesy.  We learn in Act V that “the Queen, my lord, is dead.”  Therefore, Lady Macbeth has died as well, most likely by suicide as a result of her guilt, her paranoia, or both.  Lady Macbeth would certainly not have been in this desperate mental state if she hadn’t convinced Macbeth to go through with his original wicked deed:  the murder of Duncan.  Macbeth then personally kills Young Siward, the Earl of Northumberland’s son, and laughs that “thou wast born of woman.”  Most importantly, Macbeth dies at the hand of Macduff, his final battle cry being, “Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane, And thou opposed, being of no woman born, Yet I will try the last.”  That puts the number at ten (at the very least) who die directly or indirectly as a result of Macbeth’s actions, proving Macbeth to be a true tragedy in every sense of the word.

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