What is the dramatic purpose of the "porter scene," Act II, scene iii, of Macbeth? The porter scene (knocking at the gate) is a much debated scene and many agree it is a typical comic relief.  

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Many questions have been posted in eNotes about the drunken porter scene in Macbeth(Act 2, Scene 3). Many of the answers deal with the concept of comic relief . It seems likely that Shakespeare inserted comic scenes in some of his tragedies because his audiences liked to laugh. The plays were entertainment, diversion. One might compare the comic interludes to the shows that used to be offered in movie theters. There would be a serious drama plus a cartoon featuring characters like Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry, and there might be a short subject with comedians like the Three Stooges. Since Shakespeare was only presenting a single feature (so...

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marcallie | Student

And, from a purely technical point of view, it gives the actors time to change costumes and clean up from the bloody murder.  Shakespeare was nothing if not practical.

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missnerdface616 | Student

The porter provides comic relief to an otherwise very serious play. He also introduces to the audience the idea of equivocation, which is mentioned quite frequently after the porter scene.

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