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"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" is the beginning of the second sentence of one of
the most famous soliloquies in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. It takes place in the beginning
of the 5th scene of Act 5, during the time when the English troops, led by Malcolm and
Macduff, are approaching Macbeth's castle to besiege it. Macbeth, the play's protagonist,
is confident that he can withstand any siege from Malcolm's forces. He hears the cry of
a woman and reflects that there was a time when his hair would have stood on end if he
had heard such a cry, but he is now so full of horrors and slaughterous thoughts that
it can no longer startle him. Seyton then tells Macbeth of Lady Macbeth's
death, and Macbeth delivers this soliloquy as his response to the news. Shortly afterwards
he is told of the apparent movement of Birnam Wood towards Dunsinane Castle, which is actually
Malcolm's forces having disguised themselves with tree branches so as to disguise their
numbers as they approach the castle. This sets the scene for the final events of the
play and Macbeth's death at the hands of Macduff.
Analysis In Macbeth's final soliloquy the audience
sees his final conclusion about life: it is devoid of any meaning, full of contrived struggles.
Days on this earth are short, a "brief candle" and an ignorant march towards a fruitless
demise, "lighted fools. . . to dusty death." A person's life is so insubstantial that it
is comparable to an actor who fills minor roles in an absurd play. There is a struggle
for substance in life, the actor who "struts and frets his hour" or a playwright who tells
"a tale full of sound and fury" but it is contrived and senseless and will thus fade
into obscurity, a tale "Told by an Idiot. . . Signifying nothing" in which a "walking
shadow" performs "And then is heard no more". Macbeth's feelings towards Lady Macbeth in
this soliloquy are not as clear as the main theme. There are many opinions regarding Macbeth's
initial reaction when he hears that his wife is dead. Those who take the first line to
mean "she would have died at sometime, either now or later" usually argue that it illustrates
Macbeth's callous lack of concern for Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth said in Scene III of the same act that the battle would cheer him ever after
or unseat him now. Up to that time he had expected to win the battle; he was ready to
laugh the siege to scorn when interrupted by a woman's cry. His visionary thought may
have pictured the victory as restoring him to the man he once was. He pauses on the word
"hereafter" - two feet are missing from the meter - and realises that the time will never
come. Depressingly, he reflects that if it could have been, if he could have gone back,
there would have been time to consider that word, death, and mourn properly. Now, however,
since there will be no victory nor going back, and she is gone, the tomorrows creep on with
their insignificantly slow pace to the very end of all time.
In popular culture Lines from this soliloquy have been the basis
of numerous other fictional works. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a 1953
short story by Kurt Vonnegut All our Yesterdays is used as the title of
several works The Way to Dusty Death is a 1973 novel by
Alistair MacLean Out, Out— is a 1916 poem by Robert Frost
Sound and fury is the title of several works, including a novel by Faulkner and a 2000 documentary
about deaf children. References
External links Soliloquy Translation
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Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

432 Folder Collection
Amy.Lin published on September 25, 2016
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