AP Junior English
4 November 2013
Life Through a Pair of Forsaken Eyes
A close reading of Macbeth (5.5.17-28)
After hearing a shriek inside the castle, Macbeth sends his servant Seyton to find out what the noise was. When Seyton returns, he tells Macbeth “The queen, my lord, is dead” (line 16). Untouched by this horrific news, Macbeth replies, “She should have died hereafter: There would have been a time for such a word,” suggesting that she would have died eventually, implying that he is too busy to deal with her death (line 18 - 19). He goes on to say “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” using repetition, to show that life drags on, at a slow and “petty pace” up until the end of time (line 20 - 21). Macbeth then explains that “all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death” implying that after each day, they are approaching death sooner and sooner (line 23 – 24). Would the “lighted fool” who is on his way to a “dusty death” be referring to Macbeth himself or to people in general (lines 23 - 24)? After saying “out, out, brief candle,” the candle’s light represents Macbeth’s life and he is commanding it to go out due to the shear depression and stress that he is undergoing (line 24). While in this pessimistic trance, Macbeth explains that “life’s but a walking shadow” and after each day the fool is coming closer to death (line 25). While referring to the illusion of life, he compares it to a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon stage and then is heard no more” only to be forgotten once he is taken off (lines 26 - 27). Could Shakespeare be talking about himself since he is an actor upon the Globe Theater’s stage? Macbeth then goes on to say that “it is a tale told by an idiot f...
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...is considered to be a very deep and complex character due to this, and because he is ultimately the protagonist of the play, but yet he is also the antagonist too. He killed anyone that stood between him and his country’s crown, but yet in this speech he has an abrupt realization of what he has accomplished. He also had a strong and deep bond with his wife, yet when he receives the news he simply says, “she would have died hereafter: there would have been a time for such a word,” implying that he doesn’t care (Lines 17 – 18).
Kermode, Frank. “Macbeth.” Shakespeare’s Language. New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux,
2000. 201 – 216. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, eds. New York: The
Modern Library, 2009. Print.
SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
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