Literary Allusions Of Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
A literary allusion is a reference to a famous piece of literature with which the literate, cultured reader is expected to be familiar. Examples of this from the play MacBeth by William Shakespeare would be well known titles such as, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and Out, Out by Robert Frost. One might guess that these writers chose to use a literary allusion from MacBeth to give greater meaning to his respective work. Frost perhaps wanted to convey MacBeth s feelings on life and death, without having to actually put them into his poem.
Robert Frost s poem Out, Out in the literal sense about a young boy who is injured while sawing some wood. His hand is severed and eventually died from the wound. The last line of the poem reads,
And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs,
This is upsetting because the people do not take time to mourn or really reflect on what has happened. The people simply return to their work, because they were not the one who died. This poem is symbolic of life, and how short it is. No one knows when he or she is going to die, it could happen at any moment.
From Shakespeare s tragedy MacBeth, comes the famous quote which Frost extracted his title.
And all out 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,
MacBeth gives this speech after learning of his wife s death. He speaks of what life s meaning is to him. After the many horrible things he has done, and the people he has killed, life is not very special to him. He feels it is more a moment of glory in an empty abyss than a gift. After murdering the king, one s best friend, and an innocent family, anyone might have these feelings.
These two very different works of literature share a very common theme: Death. Frost is possibly trying to draw on the idea that the boy s life was short and now he has passed into oblivion, just like Lady MacBeth. A friend recently made the connection between the MacBeth quote and Beowulf. Beowulf had similar views on life and death. That story stated that life was like a sparrow s flight through a warm mead hall, and then it returned to the cold, bitter world.