Knock, knock, who's there? Introduction
I'm the Porter. I provide the comic relief in a pretty dark play, Macbeth. I love to ramble even when no one is listening, and boy do I love my wine. And you know what I think?
Here's a knocking indeed! If a
man were porter of hell-gate, he should have
old turning the key. Knocking within
knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of
Beelzebub? Here's a farmer, that hanged
himself on the expectation of plenty: come in
time; have napkins enow about you; here
you'll sweat for't. Knocking within
knock! Who's there, in the other devil's
name? Faith, here's an equivocator, that could
swear in both the scales against either scale;
who committed treason enough for God's sake,
yet could not equivocate to heaven: O, come
in, equivocator. Knocking within
knock, knock! Who's there? Faith, here's an
English tailor come hither, for stealing out of
a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may
roast your goose. (2.3.1-14)
Who Said It and Where
Shakespeare's just given us a murder and a lot of spooky crazy talk from Macbeth, so we're obviously ready for a brief, comedic interlude. So who should come on stage, but the Porter, the play's resident jokester and door answerer.
He does a lot of joshing around about what it would be like to be a porter of "hellgate."
Apparently, a porter in hell would be a busy guy since there are so many evil and corrupt people in the world. It is just us, or could he be talking about the Macbeths?
After all, Macbeth has just butchered King Duncan to take the crown for himself and his lovely wife has helped him cover it up. The pair is on edge at this point and the persistent knocking at the door makes them feel anxious. It kind of reminds us of a heartbeat getting faster and faster and faster.