Bookshelf Battle Quote of the Week – “Life is a Tale Told By an Idiot”

She would have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
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.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Is life really a tale told by an idiot? That’s quite an indictment of the concept of life. Think about it. The Bard isn’t just saying that life is pointless. He’s saying that it is a tale told by an idiot. Imagine the most gaseous windbag at the end of the bar, three sheets to the wind, spewing out nonsense all night. His stories are about as coherent as life if you follow this point of view.

Sometimes it can feel that way. Days come, days go. There are good days and bad days. As Ferris Bueller would say, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.” Today you’re having a blast. Tomorrow, you’re an old man in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank. Sometimes it feels like moves faster than a finger snap.

Obviously, the character of Macbeth engaged in some nasty business, so it is not surprising he felt low enough to become dissatisfied by life. But is it really full of sound and fury? Does it signify nothing?

Life can have its great moments, and those moments can vary from person to person. For some, it’s marriage or birth of a child. For others it may be the accomplishment of a long held dream. It’s better to concentrate on the good times, and forget the fact that, like a “brief candle,” life can be snuffed out at any time. That’s the sad irony of life – an alive person spends his life collecting one achievement after another and in the end, everyone, from the lowliest bus station bathroom janitor to the highest CEO ends up worm food.

Like a “player” with his “hour on the stage,” we all have those great moments. Life is meant to be lived. Enjoy your time on the stage, because a life spent worrying about the final curtain is a life wasted.

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5 thoughts on “Bookshelf Battle Quote of the Week – “Life is a Tale Told By an Idiot”

  1. What a great, and for me, timely post. A tragedy here this week took a life too soon, we are all feeling such sorrow. A friend told me one of his favorite sayings is, “Life is great, if you don’t weaken”. how true! Thanks for looking on the bright side . Enjoy indeed!

  2. […] – and all your worthless lives. I should have let Stannis lecture you all into boredom about whether or not life is a tale told by an idiot. I didn’t make Joffrey read bookshelfbattle’s post about about the line in Romeo and […]

  3. […] an Idiot” speech from MacBeth is prominently feature.  If you want to know more about that, you can read expert commentary from world renowned literary expert Bookshelf Q. […]

  4. […] “That life is a tale told by an idiot,” Bill said with a dramatic flourish. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” […]

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