Scene Analysis of Porter Scene

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The satirical porter scene is said to be the comic relief in the grim tragedy of the play, Macbeth, by William Shakespeare. In the following essay the importance of the scene to the rest of the play will be discussed, and the actions and speech of the porter will be analyzed.   

Though not the most important scene of the play, the value of the porter scene cannot be overlooked. The sordid, tense and serious atmosphere of conspiracy and murder is slightly eased by the humorous speeches and actions of the porter in this scene. The way this scene is written and the strategic placement of the scene is brilliant. This scene allows the reader to catch their breath between Macbeth's murder of Duncan and the discovery of the body by Macduff; therefore it heightens and enriches the dramatic impact of both those scenes. This is the importance of the scene to the rest of the plot, and though it does not ‘advance’ the plot as such it gives the adjacent dramatic scenes greater dramatic effect.

The porter, who has the duty to guard the gate and welcome the visitors, is in drunken state and imagines he is the porter at the gate of hell, this is ironic because the castle of Macbeth is alike hell, due to Macbeth’s recent devilish actions. The porter, being in his drunken state while Macduff is knocking, imagines he is letting in to hell three men, a farmer, an equivocator and an English tailor. He says this about the farmer, “here’s a farmer, that hang’d himself on th’ expectation of plenty: come in, time-server, have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for’t”. He’s saying that a farmer, who accumulated corn expecting to make money, hanged himself because the prices of corn dropped. He then imagines to let in an equivocator, “Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scales, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate into heaven.” Here he is saying that an equivocator (deceiver) who told many lies...
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