“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” is the commencement of the second line of one of the most renowned soliloquies in Macbeth which is a tragedy by Shakespeare. It is witnessed in the opening of Act 5, Scene V during the period when the troops from England, led by Macduff and Malcolm, are on their way to besiege Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth, the anti-hero and protagonist of the play, is self-assured that he can endure any barricade from Malcolm’s troops. The cry of a woman, catches his ears and he begins reflect on the time when his hair would stand on end if he such a cry caught his ear. But now, he is full of slaughterous thoughts and horrors that such a cry can no longer frightens him.
Macbeth is told by Seyton of Lady Macbeth’s death, and he conveys this soliloquy as his reaction to this unfortunate news. He is later on told of Birnam Wood’s seeming movement headed for Dunsinane Castle (as earlier prophesied to him by the witches), which is in fact Malcolm’s troops having camouflaged themselves with branches of trees to avoid being noticed as they approach the castle. This prepares the scene for the last events of the play, and the death of Macbeth at Macduff’s hand.
In the first “to-morrow” that comes first, it seems like he’s thinking that there will be enough time tomorrow, to mourn for his wife. If that was his initial thought, it rapidly changes. Although, but he does not trust in the contemporary cliché that states “today is the first day of the rest of my life.” he knows that living well is doing it one day at a time. He perceives things in an entirely different perspective. All yesterdays are the last day of each of our tomorrows and Macbeth has used up all of his yesterdays committing murders.
In the ending soliloquy of Macbeth, the audience witnesses Macbeth’s ultimate conclusion regarding life: that its meaning is completely lacking, and that our time in this world, other than leading us toward “dusty death,” has no purpose. Life is a apparently depressing and endless series of days crawling along at a petty and bleak pace. Our days in this world are so insubstantial that they can only be likened to an illusion or shadow; so fake that they can only be likened to a bad performer that struts and worries while in performance. Once the curtains close, his character vanishes into oblivion, and has nothing to show for it.
Macbeth’s feelings for Lady Macbeth in this dramatic monologue are not as perfect as the central theme. There are several views concerning Macbeth’s first reaction when he gets the news of his wife’s death. Those who perceive the meaning of the first line to be “she was going to die at some point, either later or now” typically argue that it exemplifies Macbeth’s insensitive unconcern for Lady Macbeth. On the other hand, it appears more probable that the sentence is a blend of various meanings.
Macbeth stated in the same act, Scene III that the battle will disseat him now or cheer him forever. Up until this period he had anticipated to win the fight; he was prepared to laugh the restriction to scorn when a woman’s cry interrupted him. His idealistic thought may have visualized the victory as reinstating him to his old self. He puts a pause on the expression “hereafter” (in the meter, there are two absent feet), and it comes to his realization that the time will certainly not come now. Dishearteningly, he contemplates on how things could have been, if chose to go back, then he would have had enough time to reflect that term, death, and to properly mourn. Since now there will be no going back, no victory and that she is lost to him forever, the tomorrows crawl in with their irrelevantly slow speed to the very close of all time.