A MacGuffin is a plot element or other device used to catch the audience’s attention and maintain suspense, but whose exact nature has fairly little influence over the storyline.
“The main thing I’ve learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I’m convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove it to others.” – Alfred Hitchcock
MacGuffin (a.k.a. McGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a motivating element in a story that is used to drive the plot. It serves no further purpose. It won’t pop up again later, it won’t explain the ending, it won’t do anything except possibly distract you while you try to figure out its significance. In some cases, it won’t even be shown. It is usually a mysterious package/artifact/superweapon that everyone in the story is chasing. To determine if a thing is a MacGuffin:
A. Check to see if it is interchangeable. For example, in a caper story the MacGuffin could be either the Mona Lisa or the Hope diamond, it makes no difference which. The rest of the story (i.e. it being stolen) would be exactly the same.
B. Does it do anything, and if it does, is it ever actually used in story? If the answer to both is yes, it’s a Plot Device, not a MacGuffin.
“It’s the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.”
– Talullah Bankhead
If claims that the actress slept with ’40 per cent of the British aristocracy’ during her eight-year stay in 1920s London are overblown, her reckless exhibitionism is well attested. When crew complained of her lack of underwear on the set of Lifeboat in 1944, Hitchcock’s laconic reply was: ‘I don’t know whether that’s a concern for wardrobe or hairdressing.’
The ovum, a mature egg cell released by the ovaries of the fertile female approximately every 28 days, is the largest human cell; whereas sperm, incidentally, is the smallest.
For conception to take place, a mature egg cell must be at the right place at the right time. Conception takes place when a sperm penetrates the egg cell before it reaches the uterus and fertilizes it within 24 hours of its release, then the two cells combine into one.
All of the 400,000 egg cells a woman will ever produce are already present in her ovaries when she is born, although the eggs are in an undeveloped form. That means that the egg that would become you was as old as your mother at the time you were conceived.
“I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me.”
– Alfred Hitchcock