“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
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.”

Shakespeare uses many different methods to present Macbeth’s deteriorating state of mind within this short passage. These range from language devices to the structure of the writing within the book.

Iambic pentameter is one of the main methods that Shakespeare uses to present Macbeth’s deteriorating state of mind. One way that we can analyse the use of iambic pentameter is when “higher class” characters use iambic pentameter when speaking whereas “lower class” characters use a more informal and fluent way of talking. This can be compared to modern day where we portray characters of a higher hierarchy to speak in a more repetitive and confident manner where people of lower hierarchy will stutter and give more forward/straight sentences. The frequent interruptions within the rhythm of the iambic pentameter show frequent interruptions in the mind of Macbeth.

Shakespeare uses language devices to present Macbeth’s current state of mind such as the use of repetition to show that he is in a state of confusion and shock. This is due to people repeating their sentences and words when in shock e.g. “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow”. He uses a metaphor, “Life’s but a walking shadow” to express that a walking shadow is someone without life. The connotations of shadow include depression, darkness, loneliness etc. which all can describe how Macbeth is feeling right now.

Macbeth also uses a wide variety of words which all connote a negative meaning. “petty”, “dusty death”, “poor”, “nothing” are all examples of negative words which correlate to Macbeth’s current view of his situation. Macbeth also mentions time a lot within this short passage. This could be due to the fact that only time can heal his broken heart but also because time is one of the most important aspects of the story at this specific point in time. Macbeth learns that his wife Lady Macbeth had died but also learns that an army is forming outside his castle and he needs to assemble troops fast.

Many other uses of figurative language appear withing this extract. The rule of three is used a few time such as when Macbeth says “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” The use of personification is used when Macbeth says “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day” which give the human feature of creeping to the idea of a day or a period of time. This could mean that Macbeth is losing his own life and giving it away to objects around him. That can show Macbeth’s situation which can be seen as lifeless. Another use of personification is when Shakespeare gives the “hour” the ability to “strut” and “fret”.

The metaphysical i.e. the imaginary state of mind of Macbeth, reinforces Macbeth’s short term depression by creating an image of his own future.


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