Better Students Ask More Questions.
What does shakespeare means when he says: "out out brief candle ..."?
3 Answers | add yours
High School Teacher
This quote is found in Act V, scene 5 of Macbeth.
The entire quote, "All our yesterday 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," is Macbeth's comment on life and the "players" who walk the stage of life--a lovely metaphor. He and his wife are two of those players. Her life, ended much sooner than it should have, is the "brief candle"--the candle and her life have been extinguished.
He says that we all "strut and fret" upon the stage of life and then die--"are heard from no more." Lady Macbeth's fretting and strutting are over...the curtain has closed, the candle is out.
Macbeth is busy when he hears the news of his wife's death, so he doesn't pay much attention to her death. It can be viewed that he is cold and heartless at this point in the play, or that he is rationalizing his grief by putting it in context with the battle for which he is preparing at the time he receives the news of her untimely demise. He does, however, realize the pointlessness of his ambition and how her candle (life) has been unnaturally shortened and in all probability, his candle will also soon be snuffed out. Had he been patient and not "stirred" the pot to make his ambitions and goals a reality, they would have lived longer, more fulfilling lives.
Posted by amy-lepore on January 17, 2008 at 12:54 AM (Answer #1)
"...Out, Out brief candle..."
This part of the siloquy could be interpreted as Macbeth's view of his wife's life after she had commited suicide. Macbeth considers Lady Macbeth's life to be short and brief like a candle.
Posted by vn5472 on January 17, 2008 at 4:09 AM (Answer #2)
High School Teacher
This passageis a figurative reference to life. The canlde represents Lady Macbeth's life, but also life in general. It suggests that Shakespeare is making a somewhat existential comment on life and its meaninglessness. Firstly he states that life is short, "brief candle". We know that lady Macbeth died prematurely, but there is the universal message here too. The idea of us all strutting and fretting on the stage of life suggests that our lives are short, and meaningless and we are "heard no more" implies that there is nothing beyond death- hence the existential suggestion - meaninglessness of life and nothing after death. Shakespeare suggests this too in Hamlet, "the rest is silence".
Posted by melbillmc on August 23, 2008 at 4:22 PM (Answer #3)
Related QuestionsSee all »
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.