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Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

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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.
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17–28)

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" is the beginning of the second sentence of one of the most famous soliloquies in William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. It takes place in the beginning of the fifth scene of Act 5, during the time when the Scottish troops, led by Malcolm and Macduff, are approaching Macbeth's castle to besiege it. Macbeth, the play's protagonist, is confident that he can withstand any siege from Malcolm's forces. He hears the cry of a woman and reflects that there was a time when his hair would have stood on end if he had heard such a cry, but he is now so full of horrors and slaughterous thoughts that it can no longer startle him.

Seyton then tells Macbeth of Lady Macbeth's death, and Macbeth delivers this soliloquy as his response to the news.[1] Shortly afterwards, he is told of the apparent movement of Birnam Wood towards Dunsinane Castle (as the witches had prophesied to him), which is actually Malcolm's forces having disguised themselves with tree branches so as to hide their numbers as they approach the castle. This sets the scene for the final events of the play and Macbeth's death at the hands of Macduff.

Titular reuses[edit]

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow...

... and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death

Out, out, brief candle!

Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Other reuses[edit]

  • In Wayne Wang's 1995 movie Smoke, Auggie Wren references to this speech by saying "Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow. Time creeps in its petty pace"*
  • Kevin Costner's unnamed character from The Postman recites this while he is putting on a one-man performance of Macbeth at the village in the opening act in exchange for food and supplies. He is continuously corrected by one of the villagers when he misquotes several lines, seemingly intentional in spite of the corrections.
  • In Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel Lolita, the antagonist, Claire Quilty, when confronted by Humbert, explains he has "not much at the bank right now", but proposes "to borrow — you know, as the Bard said, with that cold in his head, to borrow and to borrow and to borrow".
  • In the movie Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the entire monologue is recited by a jobless actor in the street.
  • In the video game Saints Row IV, the main antagonist Zinyak recites the soliloquy in its entirety, save for the first sentence.
  • In the Cosby Show episode, Theo and Cockroach, after Cliff and Clair discover Theo and Cockroach studying for a Macbeth test using only "Cleland Notes" and subtly remind them of the folly of relying only on Notes to prepare for any test, Clair leaves, reciting "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow", which causes them to become uneasy. Theo wonders out loud if the passage was from Macbeth and Cockroach assures him it couldn't be because it wasn't in the Cleland Notes.
  • Marilyn Manson recites part of the soliloquy in the song "Overneath the Path of Misery" and in the short film Born Villain (2011).
  • Hamilton uses the third and fourth lines of the section in the song "Take a Break", as part of a broader analogy to Macbeth.[4]
  • ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott frequently used the last two lines as a catch phrase to describe sports highlights.
  • The 2021 Indian Bengali language crime thriller web series Mandaar is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth in which the lead protagonist utters a modified version of the soliloquy in the last episode of the series.
  • In his opening speech to the Parliament of Malaysia dated 20 December 2022, the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim quoted the last two line of the soliloquy in response to the opening remarks by the Leader of the Opposition, Hamzah Zainudin, the previous day.[5]
  • In the television show The Sopranos, John Sacrimoni misquotes the line during an argument with Tony by yelling: "...creeps on this petty pace!"
  • The scene is performed in the seventh episode of the television show Barry by the title character and his partner Sally.


  1. ^ Andersen, Richard (2009). Macbeth. Marshall Cavendish. p. 104. ISBN 9780761430292.
  2. ^ Platou, Arnold S. (March 31, 2003). "Harry Warner's parallel universe". The Herald-Mail. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men", Wikipedia, 2020-10-28, retrieved 2021-01-02
  4. ^ "Take a Break Lyrics". lyrics.com. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  5. ^ "Quoting Shakespeare's MacBeth, Anwar Ibrahim accuses Hamzah Zainudin of launching personal attacks". 20 December 2022.