What effect is created by the pounding at the gate? What dramatic effects are achieved by having the murder take place offstage?This is a three part question incorperated into one. This...

What effect is created by the pounding at the gate? What dramatic effects are achieved by having the murder take place offstage?

This is a three part question incorperated into one. This question is for Act 2 scene 1. Thank you for your help.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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I suppose you refer to the repeated knockings at the south gate of Inverness, knockings that occur at the end of act 2 scene 2, which is the scene of Duncan's murder. As Macbeth is afraid to go back to Duncan's chamber and stands absolutely confused as well as terrified to see his hands stained with Duncan's blood, the first knock is heard:

..............................Whence is that knocking?

How is 't with me, when every noise appals me?

 

These knockings continue in the following scene when the tipsy porter appears. He is supposed to open the gate and allow Macduff and Lennox enter. These repeated knockings correspond with shocking thrusts of guilt and fear in the mind of Macbeth. This is surely a deliberate audio-effect that adds to the suspense of the moment.

The murder of Duncan taking place offstage is a masterly stroke by which Shakespeare opts for intricate psychological realism in place of crude sensationalism of bloodshed. The severely fear-stricken mind of Macbeth and the ironically antithetical  boldness of his accomplice, Lady Macbeth are thus revealed as two contrary mirrors imaging the murder and its immediate repercussions in a wonderfully theatrical manner. The physical act of killing would have failed to produce the desired psychological complexities as shown in the scene.

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