'Life's but a Walking Shadow' Shakespeare Mug
Avaliable with black, red, blue, green, pink & yellow text.
This is out and out my favourite quote from Shakespeare. I first studied Macbeth at school when I was 16. I loved this quote from the moment I read it. I decided to learn it. Now, at the age of 33, I still find myself reciting it. Over the past 17 years, the way I recite the quote has changed a lot. I am still finding new secrets within it, new ways to say it. For me this typifies the immense depth of Shakespeare's writings, you spend your whole life trying to learn them.
Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5 (24 - 28)
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,
Macbeth says this upon hearing that his wife is dead. His ambition has brought him to ruin. He is sunk deep into indifference, ‘signifying nothing’. His tone is mocking, ‘told by an idiot’. He is resigned to the inevitable, pointless end of life, ‘And then is heard no more’.
Macbeth talks of the irrelevant highs and lows of life, ‘that struts and frets’, but frames them as desperate ‘a poor player that struts and frets’. All of this desperation is temporary, ‘his hour upon the stage’, an hour, a fixed period of time. He can’t help but build things up, ‘full of sound and fury’, only to bring them down, ‘signifying nothing’.
He feels disconnected from the whole process, ‘Life’s but a walking shadow’. The movement of shadows are controlled by the movement of the sun, and just as Romeo and Juliet are ‘star crossed lovers’ destined to fall in love with tragic results, Macbeth feels all his ruin was destiny.
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