“The Tragedy of Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

[Posted on the day of the Boston Marathon bombing]

The Tragedy of Macbeth is a psychological portrayal of two murderers, deceived by illusions, goaded by ambitions, and driven to despair. Two people, though alive, yet were long dead. Kierkegaard would characterize Macbeth as in despair wanting to be himself, because he was past the point of no return, and Lady Macbeth in despair not wanting to be herself, because she was not as hardened in slaughter and blood as her husband was.

The chilling thing is: Shakespeare’s murderers not only speak to the audience, but also speak for them.

Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had liv’d a blessed time; for, from this instant,
There’s nothing serious in mortality.
All is but toys; renown and grace is dead;
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.
The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
Is stopp’d; the very source of it is stopp’d.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
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.

I have supp’d full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.



13 thoughts on ““The Tragedy of Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

      1. Darkness accentuates the brightness of light by contrast, similarly, shadow reveals the existence of life, but life is not a shadow. 🙂

      2. but life is so much a shadow when the light is not “strong” enough (just like walking in the midday under the sun, with no shadow) …..

        “Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.” Louis Aragon …. How true, and yet, how I disgust this darkness!

      3. When we walk in the midday sun, there is no shadow because the cause of its existence is removed, but there is light and life, so again life is not a shadow.

        Just as shadow is dependent upon light for its existence, so error is dependent upon truth. But truth exists without error, so it does not presuppose error.

      4. Yes, mistake from my side as I shouldn’t philosophise shadow when its absence could be scientifically explained, indeed there is life and light even under midday sun. However, ‘error’ to me is absolute, it coexists with truth, is error dependent on truth I am not quite sure of, but error certainly is relative to truth, which seems like “dust under the sun” to me, am I blurred (or not)?

      5. Anything that can be scientifically explained can also be philosophized (which is why people with higher degrees in science are called Doctors of Philosophy 🙂 ). You are not mistaken in philosophizing shadow. It’s an interesting and profound subject. However, if a philosophical idea contradicts the facts of science, it should be re-examined, imo.

        The word “error” comes from the root meaning “to deviate” from a straight line, as an arrow missing the target by falling short. If there is no straight line, i.e. the truth, there would be no error. On the other hand, the straight line exists when there is no deviation.

      6. How come I never think of these words in your way, I will never become “Doctor of Philosophy” (!), obviously not scientist to start with. But what’s wrong with me! Thanks anyway for your input.

  1. That speech is one of Shakespeare’s most profound, for me, and the challenge of life for me, is to rise above the petty pace, and make each moment meaningful… in fact, I find it ‘s the only way to rise above the depression and unbearable misery of petty pace….mindfulness which moves the spirit to a different level……

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