by Anthony Esolen
One of the marks of despair is a loss of the sense that time is going anywhere. Consider Macbeth before his final battle. When he learns of the death of his wife—and rumor has it, as Malcolm says when Macbeth's severed head is displayed before the true men of Scotland, that she has taken her own life "with self and violent hands"—Macbeth seems to resign his soul to the vanity of time:
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 li . . .
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