Porter Scene - written by Shakespeare or not?I've come across the suggestion by certain critics that the porter scene may not have been written by Shakespeare at all, and while I do see how it is...

Porter Scene - written by Shakespeare or not?

I've come across the suggestion by certain critics that the porter scene may not have been written by Shakespeare at all, and while I do see how it is dissimilar from how the bard might usually write, in particular in this play, I am still unsure of this claim. Obviously Shakespears plays were, well PLAYS, and an entertainment often directed towards the more common and baser masses, so it was suggested that this was a part that was added in after the fact by some other hand in order to add some comic relief.

What does anyone here think about this claim? I do see how this scene would serve a literary purpose here, for things other than comic relief I mean. Alluding to the household as the gateway to hell, serving to make make a transition from the almost supernatural horror of the murder in order to bring us back to reality and show how these events appear in a nonsupernatural way. Other things to be sure, but I find myself wondering if the action works better with or without this scene. In other words I am on the fence on whether or not this scene was intended by Shakespeare or added in later by another party.  Anyone else?

Expert Answers
writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post #2. There does seem to be a lot of consistencies between the porter scene the other prose writings of the play. Shakespeare also used a lot of comic relief in his tragedies in general to lighten the subject matter. Also, the Porter's repeated use of the word "equivocation" adds important thematic development. There seems to be more reason to believe that it is Shakespeare's work than that its not, though we obviously can't be sure.

 I've also read criticism that stated the scene with Hecate and the witches was not Shakespeare's work, but added later. There seems to be more of an argument for that, since the scene is somewhat out of place (in my opinion). Does anyone have any further insight on these two scenes?

epollock | Student


I didn't read anything about those two scenes, but it reminds me of a post I answered about the many variations of the poem "Annabel Lee" by Poe. Because of the many manuscripts he left behind and some were illegible, that has raised a few controversies itself: what is the correct version?

I can understand putting Shakespeare's folios together that editors and publishers could have had a hand in the process.  It doesn't seem to be out of the question.  The real question would be : How much and did they really add in the editing process?  I don't know if it will ever be known.

epollock | Student

Without any clear convincing evidence, there is no reason to not believe that Shakespeare wrote that scene along with the rest of the play.

Shakespeare varied his verse from blank verse (2.2) to rhymed couplets (1.7) The language of the witches to the Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene shows how his language can go from choppy to tense.

The prose of the Porter seems to be consistent with prose of Lady Macbeth in reading the letter and matches prose forms in his other plays.

While it may be an interesting exercise in mystery literary detection, without clear proof, it is impossible to say conclusively that he did not write the scene or the plays.