These words are uttered by Macbeth after the death of Lady Macbeth is announced in Act 5, scene 5. Upon first look, this response seems oddly muted and devoid of emotion over the death of his wife, whom he loved so much, however, it segues quickly into a fatalistic speech of such negativity and despair that the audience realises just how majorly Macbeth had been affected by this news, and how undone it has made him. This passage insists that there is no meaning or purpose to life, and knowing the state of Macbeth’s life at this moment, it is clear that his world is falling to pieces all around him. He proclaims that life is, “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”And thus represents his thoughts on one of the major underlying motifs of the play, that of fate and prophecy (5, 5, 30-31).
This play is all about the consequences of actions, and how Macbeth, being a tragic hero, has a fatal flaw, that when combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy. Macbeth’s flaw is his unchecked ambition and thirst for power, he will stop at nothing, for it seems to be the most important thing to him, however, here he announces that life is utterly meaningless. This is due to the fact that Macbeth believes he is powerless to control his own destiny, choosing to believe that fate and prophecy guide his life. In this sense, Macbeth is nothing more than a “poor player that struuts and frets his hour upon the stage” for just like an actor in a Shakespearian play, he is poweless to make his own decisive actions, he must simply act out the script which has already been decided for him (5, 5, 27-28). He is nothing more than a meaningless pawn in the grand scheme of things, being controlled by the prophecy of the three witches. Instead of taking matters into his own hands, Macbeth simply chooses to accept the prophecy as something that cannot be undone, for fate is something that is set in stone and cannot be...
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