The comedic relief the porter gives illustrates three different facets of Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The Porter opens the door of comedic relief by also opening the door to the three men who knock on Macbeth’s door. “ ‘Knock. Knock. Who's there?’ In the Harrowing of Hell scenes of English mystery plays, the answer to that question was no joke. The Harrowing marks the climax of the battle between God and Satan for the fate of humanity.” (Schreyer) In fact the Harrowing reveals the beginning of Macbeth’s struggle between good and evil. The introduction of evil comes upon Macbeth when he encounters the Wyrd sisters, who tell Macbeth his impending fate. This encounter leads him from a life of glory and fame into a life of lies and murder. When Macbeth encounters the Wyrd sisters they ruse him by telling him three prophecies. The most important of the three prophecies is: “King hereafter”(I iii 50) this shifts all of Macbeth’s focus from his daily life to obtaining the throne in any way possible. It also troubles Macbeth until he wins the crown, but when he obtains the crown the prophecy hurries Macbeth into action until he hurries into his own death. (Brooks) Macbeth decides to obtain the throne by means of murder. Once he kills Duncan, Macbeth returns to his room and the scene with the Porter begins. This man brings the first breath of comedy into the play, which so far has been full of killing. Introducing comedy into the play is not simply to make the audience laugh; there is always a deeper meaning lying underneath Shakespeare’s humor. Shakespeare only introduces comedy when it contrasts with an element or character in the play; usually the comedy reacts to the tragedy present in the play. (Muir). Each ...
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Muir, Kenneth. "Comedic Relief." Bloom's Guides. Ed. Jaynce Marson. Broomall: Chelsea House, 2004. 46-47. Print.
Rosenberg, Marvin. "The Role of The Porter." Readings on Macbeth. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1990. 83-89. Print.
Schreyer, Kurt. "Here's a Knocking Indeed!" Macbeth and The Harrowing of Hell." The Upstart Crow 29. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.
Shakespeare, William. "Macbeth." Adventures in English Literature. Athena ed. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1996. 179-249. Print.
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