In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth murders King Duncan and it drives him insane. The vicious murderer begins to have hallucinations and, by the time the murderers over, clearly is out of his mind. Shortly after the violent murder, a drunken porter is knocking at the castle door, which in his mind is the gate of Hell. The porter’s rant seemingly lightens the mood after such a violent, despair bringing seen. However, it actually provides audience with a deep, thought-provoking, understanding of Macbeth’s inner feelings. Upon first glance the porter’s rant is almost whimsical, and it is often said that Shakespeare included this just for a change of mood in the play. Actually, far the opposite is true, when the porter says “Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither [to Hell] for stealing out of a French hose.” (2.3.13-14), his words mean much more than regular drunken man’s babbling during a stupor. He’s referring to a tailor, who in the midst of providing a service to a man, steals right from the pocket of his clothes, similar to Macbeth who is providing a service to the king by being his thane, and his host, but kills him, and steals the crown from behind his back. When the porter then speaks about going to Hell, it’s almost an exact explanation of how Macbeth is feeling. Even before the murder, Macbeth is worried about the possible consequences, but after it was completed, he realized his previously imagined consequences would begin to come to life.
Overall, the porter’s rant is far from meaningless. It’s not even whimsical; in fact it has a deep purpose to ensure the audience sees behind Macbeth’s face of stone, and come to understand better just what drove him to insanity.
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