Read Macbeth’s Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow soliloquy below with modern English translation & analysis

Spoken by Macbeth, Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

“Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow” Soliloquy Translation:
How the days stretched out – each one the same as the one before, and they would continue to do so, tediously, until the end of history. And every day we have lived has been the last day of some other fool’s life, each day a dot of candle-light showing him the way to his death-bed. Blow the short candle out: life was no more than a walking shadow – a poor actor – who goes through all the emotions in one hour on the stage and then bows out. It was a story told by an idiot, full of noise and passion, but meaningless.

 

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38 replies
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  1. G. Thomas
    G. Thomas says:

    this is surely the moment when Macbeth realises that the prophesies on which, encouraged by his wife, he has gambled everything were false. When he hears that his wife is dead he mutters “she should have died hereafter” (he could have added “if the story was true”) – but she didn’t and so what is the truth he is having to face up to? he pauses as the realisation sinks in and then starts his depressed speech in which he recognises that he is about to lose …the time before him will drag out interminably and it is all a waste of time …he is just another fool who got it all wrong

    this is the great turning point in the play and goes to the heart of what it was all about

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  2. Adam
    Adam says:

    Thank you for your contribution. I’d phrase the last bit more like this: “life ‘is’ just an illusion, a bad actor that nervously goes thorugh his/her lines and fades into the background, it’s a story, told by an idiot, full of emotion, but utterly meaningless.”

    Only substantive change to your text is using the present tense “is”, as McB is talking about the concept (the meaning iof life, etc.) and not a noun (Lady McB’s life).

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