Why Did Macbeth Kill Macduff's Family

Why does Macbeth have Macduff's family murdered?

Quick Answer

The witches have told Macbeth to “beware Macduff,” so he thinks Macduff poses a threat to his throne. Also, Macduff has gone to England to help Malcolm (Duncan’s son) rally an army to return to Scotland and defeat Macbeth. In an attempt to get rid of this threat, Macbeth hires murderers to kill Macduff’s family, thinking that this will cause Macduff to submit out of fear and grief.


Expert Answers info

mperez-mugg21 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write98 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

As Macbeth descends into insanity he becomes utterly obsessed with eliminating any threats to his power.  In determining which threats to heed Macbeth becomes enthralled with all of the ideas that the witches give to him, believing that all of the their prophetic warnings will come true.  It is clear that Macbeth seeks to eliminate threats to his own power due to the fact that he first murders Banquo and his children in order to ensure that Banquo's children will not pose a threat to Macbeth's rule (or that of his familial line).  Moreover, in heeding the witches prophecy (who warn him of Macduff ),...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 630 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Sarah Miles eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2014

write500 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,416 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


chippybear2442 | Student
Well First of all Mabeth doesn't have Macduff killed. Macbeth orders Macduff's family killed because he discovered that Macduff has fled to Duncan's son, Malcolm in England. Macbeth is suspecious that his downfall might be coming.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial