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ON THE KNOCKING AT THE GATE IN MACBETH
Thomas De Quincey first called special attention to the knocking at the gate in the second act of Macbeth in an often-anthologized essay which has been called a masterpiece of Shakespearean criticism. Although the knocking at the gate has the effect De Quincey describes, Shakespeare had much more serious and complex reasons for creating that stage effect. This essay will analyze in detail what went on before, during, and after that prolonged knocking at the gate in Macbeth in order to show why Shakespeare invented it, what problems it created for him, and what it accomplished.