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Examine The Arguments Of Those Who Object To The Porter's Monologue In Macbeth And To The Succeeding Dialogue Between And Macduff.

1330 words - 5 pages

In every great piece of literary work, two aspects can be found. One deals with different values and incidents from the contemporary society while the other reflects eternal and universal values in them. But the more interestingfact is that these two aspects can lie hidden in a single piece of work.Shakespearean dramas are also no exception. Besides, these dramas, in them, have a few scenes that appear to provoke laughter but underneath lie a deep message from the dramatist which reveals the spirit of the drama, or at least, the spirit of the scene concerned. So it is not unnatural that some of the critics should trace only one aspect while the other remains rather obscure.And precisely this is why there are so many contradictory criticisms about some such scenes of this great Elizabethan dramatist.One such controversial scene is the so-called Porter scene in Macbeth-(Act II; Scene III). There are many critics who are of the opinion that the Porter scene, in its style and the coarseness, is un-Shakespearean. This group ofcritics is headed by Coleridge who says , "This low soliloquy of Porter and his few speeches afterwards I believe to have been written for the mob by some other hand, perhaps with Shakespeare's consent: and that finding it he with the remaining ink of a pen otherwise employed just interpolated the words' I'll devil porter it no further. I had thought to have in some of all professions, that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire' "Anyway, Coleridge's criticism has not been generally accepted. The Clarendon editors considered this scene to have been interpolated by Middleton and they think it to be strangely out of place amid the tragic horrors which surround it.Both of these criticisms, anyway can be proved as hollow and baseless ones if we penetrate a little deeper into the scene. But before that it would be better if we judge it against the contemporary socio-religious background.Anybody familiar with medieval religious drama is likely to recognise a correspondence between the vocabulary of this scene and that of a similar playlet within the English miracle cycles. 'The Harrowing of Hell' whichprobably provided Shakespeare with his model for the particular form which he chose to cast Act II Scene III of Macbeth, and possibly for the play as a whole. Hell itself was represented as a combination of castle, dungeon andcesspit. The gate of the hell was guarded by a janitor or porter. Christ, after his crucifixion, but before his resurrection, came to this castle of hell to demand of Lucifer, the release of the souls of patriarchs and prophets.Christ's arrival was signalled by a tremendous knocking at this gate and a blast of trumpets. The gate collapses and the saviour-avenger, along with Michael, who had a flaming sword in hand entered and released the souls held prisoner within. It is in circumstances not unlike this that Macduffknocks at the gate Macbeth's castle and that Malcolm and Donalbain escapes from it in the...

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