How many people does Macbeth kill in the play?

Quick answer:

Macbeth kills more than five people in the play, though it's not possible to determine exactly how many deaths he is responsible for. At the very least, he is responsible for the deaths of Macdonwald, Duncan, the king’s guards, Banquo, Lady Macduff and her family and household, and Young Siward. We don’t know exactly how many people died in Macduff’s castle, so we can’t know for certain how many people Macbeth killed in total.

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The total number of deaths Macbeth is responsible for is difficult to determine because we don't know how many people died in Macduff's castle.

During the battle in Act 1, he kills Macdonwald, one the leaders of the rebel forces: he "unseams him from the nave to the chaps" (rips him open from his navel to his jaw). Macdonwald is the first man Macbeth kills although we only hear about this action; it is, however, an honorable feat done to defend Scotland. All other killings (Duncan, the king's two guards, Banquo, Lady Macduff, her family, and household, and Young Siward) that he performs or orders to be done are the result of his "o'erweening ambition" and desire to remain king.

Lady Macbeth's suicide, I believe, is the result of her own guilt about involvement in Duncan's death. Although she does speak of other deaths in her sleepwalking scene, none of these would have occurred if Macbeth had not succumbed to her belittling his manhood when she said in effect he wasn't man enough to kill the king. She wasn't by nature wicked, remember; she had to call on evil spirits "unsex" herself so that she could be tough.

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Who does Macbeth kill throughout the play?

Macbeth kills several people, both directly and indirectly, over the course of the play.

Macdonwald is Macbeth's first casualty in the story, his grisly death recounted by an injured captain who personally witnessed the event. That Macbeth kills Macdonwald, a traitor, is interesting, since Macbeth himself will prove disloyal to the crown.

King Duncan is Macbeth's second and most famous victim. Macbeth stabs him to death while Duncan is a visitor in his house. After the murder, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plant the murder weapon on the inebriated guards who were supposed to protect Duncan. However, Macbeth ends up killing the guards the next morning, scared that they will somehow give him away when the other guests try to find out who killed Duncan.

During much of his time as king, Macbeth hires others to do his killing for him. Macduff's family and Banquo are killed by Macbeth's assassins. That Macbeth, so active before, has to have others do the killing makes him appear all the more pathetic and ill-suited to kingship.

In the final scenes of the play, Macbeth finally takes up his sword again. He ends up killing young Siward, but this proves Macbeth's final casualty. He is slain by Macduff, his reign now ended.

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Who does Macbeth kill throughout the play?

Macbeth kills many people in battle, most of them probably before the play begins. The audience cannot be quite certain of the chronology, because he is presumably still fighting during the witches' short dialogue in act 1, scene 1. However, by act 1, scene 2, he has already killed the rebel Macdonwald and many other enemies of King Duncan.

In act 2, Macbeth kills King Duncan. This is the most significant murder in the play and the only one about which Macbeth deliberates at length. He then kills Duncan's guards, allegedly in a fit of fury, though really to prevent them from giving evidence.

After killing Duncan, Macbeth becomes king and no longer has to do his own killing until the battle in act 5, when he kills young Siward in combat and attempts to kill Macduff, who finally defeats him. However, although he no longer personally kills people in the middle of the play, Macbeth does hire murderers to kill Banquo, Fleance, and the Macduff family. The murderers are partially successful, killing Banquo, Lady Macduff, and Macduff's children, but they fail to kill either Fleance, who escapes, or Macduff, who has gone to England.

Macbeth therefore kills two named men in battle, Macdonwald and Siward, along with many more unnamed men. He murders Duncan and his two guards and is responsible for the murders of Banquo, Lady Macduff, Macduff's son (onstage) and Macduff's other children (offstage).

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Who does Macbeth kill throughout the play?

The first person Macbeth kills is Macdonwald.  This was a righteous kill in battle.  For this honor and duty, he was rewarded with Macdonwald’s title, Thane of Cawdor.

Then Macbeth kills King Duncan.  Macbeth is greeted by three witches who tell him that he will become king.  He believes them, and when Duncan names his son Malcolm successor instead of Macbeth, Macbeth gets angry and kills Duncan despite having no right to the title.

Macbeth is not safe though.  He kills Duncan’s servants in order to frame them (though he also frames Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s sons, for good measure).  He claims to have done it in a bloody rage.

Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,(120)

Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:

The expedition of my violent love

Outrun the pauser reason. (Act 2, Scene 3)

Macbeth does not stop there.  He has safely framed Malcolm and Donalbain, and they flee.  The next threat to Macbeth is Banquo.

Macbeth hires three murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance.  Unfortunately, Fleance gets away.  Macbeth is furious, and Banquo’s ghost visits him at the ball.

Next comes Macduff’s family.  Macbeth is angry and suspicious when Macduff leaves the country, and decides to have his entire household killed.  Lady Macduff, Macduff’s son, and the entire household of servants are slaughtered.  Macduff is not there.

Chances are there are various other minions that Macduff killed along the way before the battle.  As the battle draws near, Lady Macbeth kills herself out of guilt.  Consider her a casualty of association.

Finally, the battle begins.  Macbeth first kills Young Siward.  Young Siward calls Macbeth out before he is killed in their fight.

Thou liest, abhorred tyrant; with my sword

I'll prove the lie thou speak'st. (Act 5, Scene 7)

At this point, Macbeth continues fighting until he comes toe to toe with Macduff, who informs him that he was born by caesarian.  Macbeth is annoyed that he was deceived, and basically commits suicide in giving himself up to Macduff.

Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,

For it hath cow'd my better part of man!

… I'll not fight with thee. (Act 5, Scene 8)

Macbeth says he will not yield to Malcolm, but his heart’s basically not in it.  Macduff beheads him, and the bloody tyrant’s rule is over.

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How many murders are there in Macbeth?

King Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macduff, Macduff's son, and two chamberlains are all murdered over the course of the play. There is also the attempted murder of Banquo’s son, Fleance, but it is unsuccessful. Macbeth kills King Duncan himself and hires murderers to dispatch Banquo and to kill the Macduff family. After the discovery of Duncan’s body, Macbeth kills the two chamberlains who slept outside Duncan's chamber. He claims that he killed them in a rage after deducing that they had killed King Duncan, but this was all part of his and Lady Macbeth's plot to pin the blame for Duncan's murder on them. This brings the total count of known murders in the play up to six. Macbeth is responsible for all of them, whether or not he was the one who performed the physical act.

It's implied that Macduff's family is bigger than what the audience sees on stage. The audience witnesses only the murders of Lady Macduff and her son, but when Macduff is told of the murder of his family, his response is, “All my pretty chickens? Did you say ‘all’?” This indicates that Macduff has more children beyond the one son who appears in the scene, which would add an unknown number to the total count of murders.

Of course, the above are not the only deaths that occur in the play, though the other deaths aren't usually characterized as murders. Shortly before the play begins, Macbeth kills the traitorous Macdonwald, and at the end of the play, he also kills Young Siward in the final battle. These could be considered murders, but are generally not called such because the deaths took place during battles and therefore fall under a different type of killing. If one was to count every death in the battles of Macbeth as a murder, it would be impossible to count how many murders truly take place.

Finally, one could argue that Macbeth’s death, when he fights with and is decapitated by Macduff, a murder as well. Macbeth was, directly or indirectly, responsible for every single other murder in Macbeth, and therefore his death is usually considered justified and necessary. Macbeth was murdering anyone and everyone if he thought they stood in his way to becoming king or were a threat to his keeping that title. His death was the only way to end the tragedies and hence is probably not qualified as a murder.

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