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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Pinter’s strangers Worthington, Bonnie Marie 1982

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PINTER'S STRANGERS by BONNIE MARY WORTHINGTON B.F.A., The University of Calgary, 1973 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Theatre, University of B r i t i s h Columbia) We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 1982 © Bonnie Mary Worthington, 1982 I n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by t h e head o f my department o r by h i s o r h e r r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a 2075 Wesbrook P l a c e V ancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 D a t e 0^4, fit* i i ABSTRACT This thesis concerns i t s e l f with the study of a single recurring character i n Pinter's work whom I define as the stranger. The thesis asserts that Pinter's use of the stranger figure, i n i t s many varied forms, i s the central motif of each of his major works. Pinter employs the stranger as a character to epitomize much larger fears than can normally be attributed to one person alone: fear of strangers, i n t r u s i o n , the past, the future, loneliness, estrange-ment, death. Thus, Pinter uses such fears to catalyse the dramatic actions of hi s plays. The study includes a l l of Pinter's major plays from The  Room through No Man's Land, and progresses chronologically, tracing Pinter's developing sophistication i n the use of t h i s motif. The thesis consists of an introduction, i n which I define the term stranger as used i n t h i s study; f i v e chapter d i v i s i o n s , based on the progression of major variations i n Pinter's exploration of t h i s motif; and a conclusion, which points out the c y c l i c a l nature of Pinter's work from The Room through No Man's Land. The conclusion also summarizes the ov e r - a l l trends of Pinter's work, i i i from h i s early dependance on p h y s i c a l i t y , through his i n t e l l e c t u a l period, to the almost e n t i r e l y psychological f i n a l phase. The f i v e chapters explore Pinter's work play by play, following the progress of h i s use of the stranger. After h i s i n i t i a l , rather overt use of t h i s motif, Pinter quickly moves in t o more subtle and complex handling of t h i s figure, s p l i t t i n g the stranger into two characters, creating confusion over "Who i s the stranger?", switching the role of stranger from one character to another through the course of the play, discovering estrangement as an i n e v i t a b i l i t y of the human condition, and returning at la s t (with a l l the preceding nuances incorporated) to the stranger as a single character. At i t s skeletal minimum, the argument of the thesis i s that Pinter has based a l l of h i s major dramatic works on e s s e n t i a l l y the same dramatic action. I t i s the variations and disguises he has given the formula, the inventions, discoveries, and machinations of t h i s single motif with which t h i s thesis i s concerned. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT i i TABLE OF CONTENTS i v ACKNOYTLEIXJEMENTS v INTRODUCTION 1 I . STRANGER AS MESSENGER 5 ( i ) THE ROOM 5 ( i i ) THE DUMB WAITER 1 7 ( i i i ) THE BIRTHDAY PARTY 26 (iv ) A SLIGHT ACHE 3 9 I I . STRANGER AS FAILED USURPER 47 ( i ) THE CARETAKER 47 I I I . STRANGER SEX 57 ( i ) THE COLLECTION 57 ( i i ) THE LOVER 63 ( i i i ) THE HOMECOMING 69 I V . ESTRANGEMENT 87 ( i ) LANDSCAPE 87 ( i i ) SILENCE 87 V. STRANGER AS REVENANT 92 ( i ) OLD TIMES 97 ( i i ) NO MAN'S LAND 97 V I . CONCLUSION 109 BIBLIOGRAPHY 118 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would l i k e to thank Dr. Donald E. Soule for his advice i n the w r i t i n g of t h i s thesis. I would also l i k e to thank my parents and Robert C., without whose constant encouragement t h i s thesis would not have been completed. F i n a l l y , I wish to thank Harold Pinter for writing such exquisite plays. INTRODUCTION I always f i n d myself wondering what i s going to happen to these people? Is someone going to open the door and come in? Pinter i n an early B.B.C. interview.* Pinter's c u r i o s i t y about 'what w i l l happen i f someone comes i n ' has provided him with a focal character around which almost a l l of his dramatic works are b u i l t . Pinter has opened the doors to h i s many rooms i n play after play, ruthlessly exposing h is security-obsessed, indoor characters to the world of t h e i r own fears. The character(s) inside Pinter's rooms repeatedly function as host (complaisant, benign, gracious, curious, h o s t i l e , t e r r i f i e d , t e r r o r i z i n g ) to another character who i s regarded as a stranger. The stranger i s primarily defined not by inherent q u a l i t i e s of h i s own, but by h i s relationship to and interaction 1. Arlene Sykes, Harold Pinter (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1970) p. 3. 2 with the central characters of the play. Thus, i t i s not dramatic personality, but relationship and, ultimately, dramatic functions that define the category, "stranger". Pinter's work displays an almost obsessive fascination with how we define people - known and unknown - as stranger, a l i e n , outsider, or f r i e n d , and, once defined, how we interact with one another. Speculation i s endless as to the etiology of t h i s fascination. Certainly the experience of having been a nine-year-old Jewish boy i n 1939 must not be discounted. Pinter was evacuated several times - uprooted from h i s London home by an i n v i s i b l e enemy. More pertinent, however, are not the causes, but the r e s u l t s . Pinter has focused again and again on the subject of intrusion. In s i m p l i f i e d terms, he employs a recurring pattern which i s as follows: A character or group of characters inhabit a place which i s known to them and i n which they f e e l secure. This place (which I c a l l the inside) may be defined by a room, a house, or the character's own mind. Drama occurs when security i s threatened by the a r r i v a l of an outsider (whom I c a l l the stranger) or the recognition of an outsider (stranger) within the group. The action of each of the plays i s precipitated by such an a r r i v a l or recognition. The r e s u l t s , though varied, generally e n t a i l a revelation of, or to, the inside characters. Pinter repeatedly employs the stranger as a catalyst of recognition and reversal. 3 . For the purposes of t h i s study, I have divided the d e f i n i t i o n of the stranger into two major categories: 1. An individual with whom one has no personal acquaintance; a newcomer, a person with whom we are unacquainted. The functional term here i s "unknown". The inside characters are i n a state of ignorance; they do not know the i d e n t i t y , o r i g i n s , motivations, intentions or powers of the stranger. The stranger comes to represent the unknown and the fear of the unknown and i s therefore a threat to the s t a b i l i t y , security - even the i d e n t i t y - of the insider. The stranger's function i n the drama i s to open the door to that fear, thereby catalysing recognition, reversal, or both. 2. A person who i s not a member of a family, group, community, or the l i k e and i s therefore regarded as an outsider. Here the functional term i s "otherness". This d e f i n i t i o n i s considerably more complex, especially as i t frequently involves a conscious choice by an insider to exclude another character and thus render him a stranger. The development of t h i s s i t u a t i o n often involves a progressive re-arrangement of the group, whereby someone i s expelled, or discovered to no longer f i t the goals, needs or ideals of the group. The res u l t , once again, i s recognition, reversal or both. This thesis proposes to explore Pinter's use of a central figure who f a l l s into one or both of the above d e f i n i t i o n s of stranger. I t w i l l trace the development of t h i s character and hi s influence upon the drama through Pinter's most successful works. 2 2. The figure of the stranger does not appear i n a l l of Pinter's plays, but he does appear, and surely t h i s i s no coincidence, i n a l l of hi s most successful plays. 4 The study progresses chronologically, as does Pinter's developing sophistication i n the use of t h i s idea. The manner i n which Pinter proceeds from play to play, working his way through the concepts of intr u s i o n and estrangement, seems almost consciously systematic. Once struck with the idea, he toys with and tests i t to exhaustion. His examination of the stranger goes beyond the realm of character alone. The stranger becomes the embodiment of a number of concepts: intrusion, the unknown, fear of the unknown, and most complex of a l l , the known but denied. Pinter explores not only the stranger and the estranged, but estrangement as a theme. 5 . I The Stranger as Messenger Pinter's f i r s t play, The Room, i s an extremely i n t u i t i v e work which was written i n only four days. 1 In studying The Room, one has the f e e l i n g of perusing a rough draft or a previously unpublished work found i n an author's bottom drawer. There cannot have been much time i n four days' w r i t i n g for the assiduously planned mystification of character which t y p i f i e s Pinter's l a t e r works. A number of character types who become recognizable as they recur throughout Pinter's work begin t h e i r f i c t i o n a l existences here. The b r u t a l , i n f a n t i l e , impotent, woman-dominated males, such as Stanley and Petey of The Birthday Party, Edward of A S l i g h t Ache, Max and Teddy of The Homecoming and Duff of Landscape, begin with the s i l e n t , brooding Bert. The dominating, whore-wife-mother figures, consummately portrayed i n Ruth of The Homecoming, also seen i n Meg of The Birthday Party, S t e l l a of The C o l l e c t i o n , Flora of A  S l i g h t Ache and Sarah of The Lover, begin with the nattering whore-mother, Rose. And l a s t , but not least, there i s Riley, the rather crude prototype of what becomes the most complex of Pinter's recurring figures - the stranger. The B r i t i s h , and Londoners i n p a r t i c u l a r , have a great fascination for extraordinary murder cases. Their d a i l y tabloids are consumed with every d e t a i l of the murder and especially of the murderer. This fascination has supplied the source for an extremely 1. Martin E s s l i n , Pinter: A Study of His Plays (London: Metheun & Co. Ltd., 1970), p. 16. 6 popular genre of plays and films. One of the fundamentals of t h i s type of drama i s that i t i s not spies, secret agents, narcotics dealers and the l i k e s who become involved i n a web of intrigue and suspense, but ordinary people. The kind of people whose houses we frequent everyday. In t h i s type of theatre ordinary locations, d a i l y routines, patterns of speech, etc. take on mysterious overtones. That which i s ordinary frequently becomes threatening. One of the recurring figures i n t h i s s t y l e i s the mysterious lodger - the man who seems to have no past and whose every action arouses suspicion and fear. The Room i s c l e a r l y indebted to t h i s dramatic st y l e and at f i r s t glance appears to be just one more of these suspense mysteries. Pinter c a r e f u l l y entices h i s audience with what seems to be a simple mystery: who i s the mystery-stranger and what does he want? F i r s t , Pinter establishes the basement as a frightening, ominous place. Next, he informs us of a mysterious stranger lurking there and that the stranger wishes to see Rose. Pinter adds a s l i g h t l y new twist, however, and we find that the mystery presented here i s considerably more complex. Pinter does not write the obligatory climax scene i n which the mystery v i s i t o r i s at l a s t exposed and h i s true i d e n t i t y , along with motives and a l l remaining pertinent data, revealed. He does not follow up on the clues he has l a i d . Instead, Pinter i n t e n s i f i e s and expands the mystery. Our questions multiply exponentially i n the f i n a l moments of the play. Pinter poses a whole series of new questions which we are l e f t to ponder on our own. The play i s dependent on Rose's i s o l a t i o n and her obsessive fear of the -loss of her isolated security. Her perpetual references to warmth, safety, inside, coziness, i d e n t i f y her as the t u r t l e i n the s h e l l . Drama occurs only i f t h i s reclusive security she has established for herself i s threatened, thus — Riley. Riley's presence i n the house i s disquieting to a l l who come into contact with him. Mr. and Mrs. Sands i n t h e i r search f o r the landlord encounter a voice i n the dark, damp basement. MRS. SANDS. ...And t h i s voice said, t h i s voice came - i t said - w e l l , i t gave me a b i t of a f r i g h t , I don't know about Tod, but someone asked i f he could do anything for us. (...) And t h i s man, t h i s voice r e a l l y , I think he was behind the p a r t i t i o n , said yes there was a room vacant. 2 MR. KIDD. ...I've got to t e l l you, that's a l l . I've got to t e l l you. I've had a t e r r i b l e week-end. You'll have to see him. (...) He's been waiting to see you. He wants to see you. I can't get r i d of him.^ The mere mention of a man i n the basement sends Rose into shrieking denials of knowing anybody. Certainly Riley i s unknown and a l i e n to the Sands and Mr. Kidd. Rose's disclaimers of knowing 2. Harold Pi n t e r , PLAYS:ONE, The Birthday Party, The Room, The Dumb Waiter, A Sl i g h t Ache, A Night Out (London: Cox and Wyman Ltd., 1976), p. iW. Throughout t h i s paper I employ the following notation, (...) to indicate e d i t o r i a l e l l i p s i s as opposed to ... which indicates Pinter's own pauses. 3. Pinter, p. 119. 8 . t h i s man, however, arouse increasing suspicion. She begins by claiming not to know the man i n the basement and quickly works her way to claiming not to know anybody. ROSE. Do you expect me to see someone I don't even know? With my husband not here too? MR. KIDD. But he knows you, Mrs. Hudd, he knows you. ROSE. How could he, Mr. Kidd, when I don't know him? MR. KIDD. You must know him. ROSE. But I don't know anybody. We're quiet here. We've just moved i n the d i s t r i c t . 4 Kidd responds with the simple and the obvious, "Perhaps you knew him i n another d i s t r i c t . " 5 Whether Rose secretly expects Riley's a r r i v a l can only be a matter of speculation, but the intensity of her fear i s undeniable. Through the adamance of her denials, Pinter reveals that which Rose most hoped to conceal. The denials imply a past she wants to escape. Somewhere i n t h i s background l i e the reasons f o r Rose's trepidation; possibly, somewhere i n Rose's background l i e s R i l e y . The fact that Riley appears only b r i e f l y and rather late i n the play does not a l t e r the fact that the play i s constructed around him and the expectation of h i s coming. Before any a r r i v a l s or departures, Rose, i n describing the secure warmth of her room, focuses by comparison on the damp, cold, unpleasant basement. What 4. Pinter, pp. 120-121. 5. Pinter, p. 121. 9 . Pinter offers as aimless chatter i n Rose's opening monologue i s i n retrospect laden with an i n t u i t i v e — or perhaps remembered — loathing of the basement. ROSE. That's r i g h t . You eat that. You'll need i t . You can fe e l i t i n here. S t i l l , the room keeps warm. I t ' s better than the basement, anyway. She butters the bread. I don't know how they l i v e down there. I t ' s asking for trouble. Go on. Eat i t up. I t ' l l do you good. (...) I' ve never seen who i t i s . Who i s i t ? Who l i v e s down there? I ' l l have to ask. I mean, you might as well know, Bert. But whoever i t i s , i t can't be too cosy. Pause. I think i t ' s changed hands since I was l a s t there. (...) I think someone else has gone i n now. I wouldn't l i k e to l i v e i n that basement. Do you ever see the walls? They were running. This i s a l l right for me. Go on Bert. Have a b i t more bread.® Rose's references to the basement are transformed from meaningless babble to thought provoking obsession with the f i r s t mention of a man waiting there. By focusing attention on Rose's intense i s o l a t i o n and consequent need for a r r i v a l s of any kind, Pinter excites our anti c i p a t i o n for the a r r i v a l of Riley before the subject has even been broached. I t i s eminently clear within a very few moments of the play's opening that Bert never responds to Rose's p r a t t l e 6. Pinter, p. 101-103. 10 and i t doesn't take us long to wish that someone would. We are forced, l i k e Rose, to seek counter-point from the 'outside 1. Pinter teases us with a stage situation that v i r t u a l l y demands that he open that door, yet he cannot r e s i s t one l a s t tease with Rose at the window. ROSE. I t ' s quiet. Be coming on for dark. There's no one about. She stands looking. Wait a minute. Pause. I wonder who that i s . Pause. No. I thought I saw someone.^ Pinter at l a s t sends r e l i e f with a knock on the door and the gently comic entrance of the elderly Mr. Kidd. (Surely Pinter puns i n naming t h i s senile old landlord.) The s l i g h t l y deaf Mr. Kidd becomes increasingly aimless and confused during h i s v i s i t to Rose and Bert. The general a i r of confusion, as i l l u s t r a t e d by Mr. Kidd, i s a recurring t a c t i c used throughout the play to enhance the a i r of mystery with which Pinter wishes to surround Ri l e y ' s eventual a r r i v a l . Pinter creates confusion on both the comic and l a t e r on the serious l e v e l , serving to produce laughter, to s t a r t l e , and to undermine both character and audience security. Pinter employs confusion throughout the play so as to allow the audience no more 7. Pinter, p. 104. 11 security than he has allowed Rose. Diametrically opposed to the t r a d i t i o n a l structuring and uses of exposition, Pinter places h i s audience i n the i r o n i c position of becoming increasingly unclear as the play progresses. The more we hear from and about Pinter's characters, the less able we are to define them. Confusion begins on the comic level with Kidd's s l i g h t deafness: he cannot hear when he i s being inv i t e d into the room and he confuses Rose's question (naive enough i n i t s e l f to stimulate a number of queries about Rose) of how many fl o o r s he has i n the house. ROSE. How many fl o o r s you got i n t h i s house? MR. KIDD. Floors. (He laughs.) Ah, we had a good few of them i n the old days. 8 Kidd's laughing response, i n which he has obviously confused the word 'floors' f o r 'whores', i s frequently noted as a fine sample of Pinter's early humor, but the f u l l implication of the joke seems to be continually overlooked. Kidd's confusion functions on more than the comic level alone; his references to having 'a good few women i n the old days', 'plenty of women around the corner', and hi s s i s t e r ' s 'beautiful boudoir', imply not only that the house i s i n a red l i g h t d i s t r i c t , but that i t may have been a brothel. Confusion i s furthered by the unexpected a r r i v a l of the Sands, who immediately launch into a series of barely disguised 8. Pinter, p. 108. vaudeville routines. These routines are ostensibly comic and i n s i g n i f i c a n t , but upon closer scrutiny one sees that they function as further contributions to the play's general sense of bewilderment. The Sands are confused over the names and i d e n t i t i e s of Mr. Hudd and Mr. Kidd, over whether i t i s darker inside or outside, over whether Mrs. Sands did or did not see a s t a r , over where the landlord l i v e s , over whether they are going up or coming down. F i n a l l y , these confusions become increasingly less comic and more pertinent as Mr. Sands announces that the man i n the basement has t o l d him Room No. 7 i s vacant. MR. SANDS. The man i n the basement said there was one. One room. Number seven he said. Pause. ROSE. That's t h i s room. MR. SANDS. We'd better go and get hold of the landlord. MRS. SANDS, ( r i s i n g ) Well, thank you for the warm-up, Mrs. Hudd, I f e e l better now. ROSE. This room i s occupied.^ In announcing that the room i s vacant, Riley v i r t u a l l y denies the existence of Rose. The Sands, Mr. Kidd, and Rose are united i n having t h e i r l i v e s affected by the strange man i n the basement, who evokes responses ranging from trepidation to panic. Kidd, desperate to be r i d of Riley, f i n a l l y suggests the man might come up on his own bat, possibly even when Mr. Hudd i s home. It i s as a result of t h i s threat that Rose f i r s t abandons her claim not to know the man, and allows him to 'come-up'. More frightening than the so-called stranger i s the p o s s i b i l i t y of him coming when Bert i s home. 9. Pinter, p. 118. Riley's entrance, after the inmense build-up given him, i s be a u t i f u l l y simple. Gone are the games of knocking and not hearing the i n v i t a t i o n to enter, or, of opening one's door to the s t a r t l i n g discovery of two strangers on your landing. Here Pinter dramatizes with the undercut. The entrance i s simple and s i l e n t . After a few moments the door opens. Enter a b l i n d Negro. He closes the door behind him, walks further, and feel s with a s t i c k t i l l he reaches the armchair. He stops. ^ Rose's continually reiterated assertion not to know Riley crumbles with increasing r a p i d i t y from the moment of his entrance. Though no one has mentioned that Riley i s black and bl i n d , Rose registers no surprise over these facts. Her reaction upon h i s entrance i s not one of surprise, or even trepidation, but of contemptuous anger. She d i r e c t s him into the armchair with the assured experience of someone fam i l i a r with the b l i n d . Pinter, who has e a r l i e r made a gargantuan business out of the simple action of s i t t i n g down, allows Riley to do so immediately, simply, f a m i l i a r l y . The f a m i l i a r i t y with which Riley treats Rose causes us to question not only who i s Riley, but who i s Rose? Riley functions as a mystery stranger for the audience, Kidd, and the Sands. In the case of Rose, he functions as a stranger of a diff e r e n t i l k . Rose wishes to regard R i l e y as an outsider; she c l e a r l y wishes not to recognize him or that which he represents, but denial i n t h i s case 10. Pinter, p. 122. i s not possible. Rose i s not allowed to escape from whatever bond i t i s that she and R i l e y have i n common. The play's pivot i s the a r r i v a l of t h i s man who proves to be a very intimate and i n f l u e n t i a l stranger. We know that he i s powerful, but we don't know how or why. The source of h i s power remains undefined. His power i s expressed i n the chaotic responses of Rose and Bert. Rose's s e l f - f e a r and Bert's self-loathing are revealed as a result of h i s presence. And t h i s i s Riley's true importance: not who he i s , but the effects of his coming. The play purposely does not t e l l us who Riley i s . Who people r e a l l y are i s a question which Pinter continually refuses to answer - h i s implication i s that no one can. Pinter imbues Riley with considerable mystical, even a l l e g o r i c a l power. Everything about him implies an other-worldliness. His blackness and the I r i s h name Riley emphasize that he i s an outsider, though not as Rose would l i k e us to believe, unknown. His a b i l i t y to affect everyone around him while saying very l i t t l e and doing apparently nothing, imbues him with a larger than l i f e q u a l i t y . He appears to have come from nowhere, and to have no bounds of time upon him. The f i r s t mention of him describes him as 'a voice i n the darkness'. He i s b l i n d , yet claims to see. RILEY. I waited to see you. ROSE. Yes. RILEY. Now I see you. ROSE. Yes. 1 1 11. Pinter, p. 125. He c e r t a i n l y sees through human subterfuge, and e a s i l y finds h i s way to Rose, who has recently moved and i n s i s t s that nobody knows where she i s . He claims to bring a message from her f a t h e r . 1 2 . ROSE. (...) What message? Who have you got a message from? RILEY. Your father wants you to come home. Pause. ROSE. Home? RILEY. Yes. ROSE. Home? Go now. Come on. I t ' s l a t e . I t ' s l a t e . RILEY. To come home.13 The manner i n which Riley uses 'home' and 'father' and the panicked reaction they i l l i c i t from Rose implies something beyond the ordinary. Of what father does Riley speak? I f Riley i s a l l e g o r i c a l , more than j u s t a man, then who i s he? Is he Fate? Is he Death? The aura of mysticism which Riley brings with him i s carried through i n the play's f i n a l moments i n which his blindness i s inexplicably transferred to Rose. Though Rose rejects, i n s u l t s and r a i l s at R i l e y , he i s soft-spoken, calm and gentle. Though she attempts to imbue him with a t t r i b u t e s of force, t r i c k e r y and a l l means of unacceptable behavior, he exerts his power without any show of physical force. 12. One i s reminded that the use of blind characters as messengers, p a r t i c u l a r l y as seers, i s a time honoured t h e a t r i c a l t r a d i t i o n originating with Teiresias of Oedipus Rex. 13. Pinter, PLAYS:ONE, p. 124. What f i n a l l y breaks Rose's r a i l i n g , aloofness and resistance, i s Riley's c a l l i n g her 'Sal', an intimacy, a f a m i l i a r i t y , which Rose cannot apparently deny. RILEY. Come home, Sal. Pause. ROSE. What did you c a l l me? RILEY. Come home, Sal. ROSE. Don't c a l l me that. RILEY. Come, now. ROSE. Don't c a l l me that. RILEY. So now you're here. ROSE. Not Sal. RILEY. Now I touch you. ROSE. Don't touch me. RILEY. Sal. ROSE. I can't. RILEY. I want you to come home. ROSE. No. RILEY. With me. ROSE. I can't. RILEY. I waited to see you. ROSE. Yes. RILEY. Now I see you. ROSE. Yes. RILEY. Sal. ROSE. Not that. RILEY. So, now. Pause So, now. ROSE. I've been here. RILEY. Yes. ROSE. Long. RILEY. Yes. ROSE. The day i s a hump. I never RILEY. No. ROSE. I've been here. RILEY. Come home now, Sa l . She touches h i s eyes, the back of h i s head and h i s temples with her hands. Enter Bert. 1 4 14. Pi n t e r , pp. 124-125. The interpretation of Riley as a messenger of death i s too obvious to be ignored. That Rose has indeed been called home, that she does not r e a l l y belong i n t h i s room, i s dramatically realized i n her physical acceptance of Riley. With t h i s acceptance, Rose's c o n f l i c t between her desire for isolated security and her innate c u r i o s i t y about the world around her comes to a momentary resolution; she attains peace. This peace i s f l e e t i n g , however, as the brutish Bert, i n h i s kicking of Ril e y , severs t h e i r connection and guarantees Rose's i s o l a t i o n . BERT. Lice! He srikes the NEGRO, knocking him down, and then kicks h i s head against the gas-stove several times. The NEGRO l i e s s t i l l . BERT walks away. ROSE stands clutching her eyes. ROSE. Can't see. I can't see. I can't see. 1^ Rose's i s o l a t i o n i s f i n a l and permanent. Whether by plan, i n t u i t i o n , or accident, The Dumb Waiter i s i r o n i c a l l y situated i n a basement. Following d i r e c t l y on the heels of The Room, the space i s instantly ominous. The a i r of mysterious humour which pervades Pinter's work i s more immediately, and more economically created i n The Dumb Waiter than anywhere else. Gus t i e s h i s laces, r i s e s , yawns and begins to walk slowly to the door, l e f t . He stops, looks down, and shakes h i s foot. BEN lowers his paper and watches him. GUS kneels and unties h i s shoe lace and slowly takes off 15. Pinter, p. 126. the shoe. He looks inside i t and brings out a flattened matchbox. He shakes i t and examines i t . Their eyes meet. BEN r a t t l e s his paper and reads. GUS puts the matchbox i n h i s pocket and bends down to put on his shoe. He t i e s h i s lace, with d i f f i c u l t y . BEN lowers h i s paper and watches him. GUS walks to the door, l e f t , stops, and shakes the other foot. He kneels, unties h i s shoe-lace, and slowly takes off the shoe. He looks inside i t and brings out a flattened cigarette packet. He shakes i t and examines i t . Their eyes meet. BEN r a t t l e s h i s paper and reads.1® ... and so on. This opening mime amuses with i t s , and apparently Gus 1, extreme s i m p l i c i t y . Gus1 actions are not i n themselves p a r t i c u l a r l y extraordinary; however, Pinter imbues them with an aura of the extraordinary. Gus' shoe tying and inexplicable discoveries of flattened matchbox and cigarette packet, under the watchful eye of Ben, become increasingly engrossing and incomprehensible through repe t i t i o n and silence. The p e c u l i a r i t y of Gus' action i s enhanced by the c a r e f u l l y l a i d , twice repeated d i r e c t i o n , 'their eyes meet'. As with The Room, Pinter employs t a c t i c s reminiscent of Hitchcock. Ordinary places, people and incidents assume mysterious overtones. Through the intensity of Gus' action and the ominous silence with which Ben observes him, a more serious mystery than that of the matchbox and cigarette packet i s implied. That there are obvious questions l e f t unspoken between the friends sets an a i r of uneasiness which dominates the action of the play. 16. Pinter, p. 121. The mime opening works l i k e a fine-focus lens, i n s t a n t l y zeroing i n on the central issue of the play. The issue i s Gus' anxiety over the myriad questions about his own l i f e to which he cannot f i n d answers. GUS. There are a number of things I want to ask him. But I can never get round to i t , when I see him.*? Similar to The Room, t h i s opening mime poses a series of questions which we hope the play w i l l answer. Once again however, at the play's close, the audience i s faced with more and much larger questions. I t i s gradually revealed that Gus and Ben are i n a sort of waiting room; only one i n a chain of many rooms where they have waited for a message and the a r r i v a l of a stranger whom i t i s t h e i r job to k i l l . Like Rose, t h e i r concerns centre on the expectation of a door opening and the a r r i v a l of a stranger. Pinter plays with Gus, Ben, and his audience, delighting i n building-up expectations which w i l l be proved incorrect. In the end i t i s not a stranger, but Gus, who i s thrust through the door. In functional terms, there are three strangers i n the play. Stranger number one i s the victim-stranger who i s expected, 17. Pinter, p. 146. 20 . and i s to be k i l l e d . He i s unknown, but might be an enemy of Wilson, from whom Gus and Ben take t h e i r orders. Stranger number two i s the author of the messages which arrive v i a the dumb waiter. He i s unknown, but might be Wilson, or the agent of Wilson. Stranger number three i s Gus, who i s known, but i s forced into the posit i o n of stranger; the stranger who might be the enemy of Wilson and must be k i l l e d . The stranger around whom the structure of the play i s b u i l t i s the stanger number two - the note writer at the end of the dumb waiter. He i s i n an apparent position of knowledge and power, and soon controls the action of the play. As Pinter heightened the importance of Riley's a r r i v a l with the element of suspense, he heightens the a r r i v a l of t h i s stranger with the element of surprise. Our attention i s directed toward the expectation of an a r r i v a l through the door. Packets of matches mysteriously appear under i t , and Gus and Ben engage i n a lengthy discussion of what exactly must be done when i t i s f i n a l l y opened. In the midst of Gus' r e f l e c t i o n s on who cleans up, and how much mess the l a s t one made, the dumb waiter shockingly intrudes. There i s a loud c l a t t e r and racket i n the bulge of wall between the beds, of something descending. They grab t h e i r revolvers, jump up and face the w a l l . (...) Disclosed i s a serving hatch, a 'dumb waiter'. A wide box i s held by pulleys. GUS peers into the box. He brings out a piece of paper. BEN. What i s i t ? GUS. You have a look. BEN. Read i t . GUS. (reading). Two braised steak and chips. Two sago puddings. Two teas without sugar. 1 8 The stranger sends messages which at f i r s t request, l a t e r demand, a variety of gastronomical c u r i o s i t i e s . As these demands become more and more outlandish, Gus and Ben are thrown into an increasing frenzy over t h e i r i n a b i l i t y to comply with them. A l l previous concern — f o o t b a l l matches, violence i n the streets, the lack of gas, and Wilson — are abandoned, forgotten i n the attempt to f u l f i l l demands which emanate from a completely unknown source. I t i s only Gus who wants to know. "WELL, WHO'S GOT IT (the upstairs) NOW?" 1 9 Ben i s s a t i s f i e d simply to follow instructions, anyone's instructions, with the aid of whatever s u p e r f i c i a l explanations he might require. Even when talki n g d i r e c t l y to the voice at the end of the tube, i t does not occur to Ben to inquire to whom he i s speaking. The dumb waiter, the voice, the messages, a l l are 18. Pinter, p. 147. 19. Pinter, p. 148. One i s reminded of The Room. "ROSE. I don't know who l i v e s down there (the basement) now." (Pinter, p. 103.) Pi n t e r constantly reinforces the simple, but disturbing r e a l i t y that, as a society, we no longer tend to be acquainted with our neighbors and are thus v i r t u a l l y surrounded by strangers. 22 . accepted by Ben as a complete and unquestionable authority. Once again, Pinter hints at, but does not c l a r i f y the o r i g i n of the orders. He stimulates our imagination with hints and clues which he does not resolve. The fact that no one ever knows for sure who gives these orders i s of immeasurable importance. Surely a part of the authority of t h i s unseen figure i s the very idea of the authority of the unknown. The l i m i t s of the authority and power of t h i s messenger are unknown; Ben therefore accepts them as unlimited. Ben and Gus, expecting a stranger whom they w i l l murder, are plagued by an unexpected stranger incarnated i n the dumb waiter. A stranger who, l i k e R i l e y , brings, or i n t h i s case sends, messages. A stranger who, l i k e R i l e y , may i n fact be more fa m i l i a r than they, or the audience, are ever allowed to ascertain. A stranger who, l i k e R iley, without violence or force, catalyzes violence and a major change i n the relationship between Gus and Ben. Pinter leaves the s i t u a t i o n teetering on the precipice, not revealing the exact form i n which t h i s change w i l l manifest i t s e l f . The relationship between the stranger and the changes which occur i s considerably more direct i n The Dumb Waiter than i n The Room. Bert takes i t upon himself to v i o l e n t l y attack Riley and apparently cause Rose's blindness; Ben, however, takes nothing upon himself, but simply follows the orders of the stranger. There i s a d i f f i c u l t technical moment at the end of The  Dumb Waiter which seriously strains suspension of d i s b e l i e f . One may f i n d oneself trying to calculate how Gus can possibly have arrived at the passage-way entrance from the loo. Is there a trap door or a disappearing wall i n the loo through which Gus i s kidnapped, stripped of gun, jacket and gun-belt, hustled round some secret basement passage and thrust through the open door upon his partner, gun loaded and ready? Gus might just as e a s i l y have returned from the loo, without his gun, to an i d e n t i c a l l y waiting Ben. That Pinter has chosen to have Gus enter through the doorway which has been established as the victim's entrance demands certain considerations. Pinter transforms the s i t u a t i o n from one i n which a h i t man i s instructed to shoot a stranger to one i n which he finds himself facing a partner and friend. One r e c a l l s Ben's e a r l i e r confusion whilst giving instructions. BEN. When the bloke comes i n -GUS. When the bloke comes i n -BEN. Shut the door behind him. GUS. Shut the door behind him. BEN. Without divulging your presence. GUS. Without divulging my presence. BEn. H e ' l l see me and come towards me. GUS. H e ' l l see you and come towards you. BEN. He won't see you. GUS. (absently). Eh? BEN. He won't see you. GUS. He won't see me. BEN. But h e ' l l see me. GUS. H e ' l l see you. BEN. He won't know you're there. GUS. He won't know you're there. BEN. He won't know you're there. GUS. He won't know I'm there. 24 . BEN. I take out my gun. GUS. You take out your gun. BEN. He stops i n his tracks. GUS. He stops i n h i s tracks. BEN. I f he turns round -GUS. If he turns round -BEN. You're there. GUS. I'm here. BEN frowns and presses h i s forehead. You've missed something out. BEN. I know. What? GUS. I haven't taken my gun out, according to you. 2 0 I t i s as i f Ben unconsciously (or consciously!) foresees the impending r e a l i t y of today's h i t . Pinter creates the p o s s i b i l i t y of both alternatives; Ben does/does not have foreknowledge of Gus' becoming the victim. We are reminded of Ben's s i l e n t observation of Gus and of Gus' questions about Ben's having stopped the car enroute. Yet, Ben c a l l s to Gus upon receiving new instructions from the dumb waiter tube, and his hesitating stare when Gus stumbles through the door, do not imply any foreknowledge. Through the use of t h i s mysterious, powerful stranger at the end of the dumb waiter, Pinter designs a play which successfully confuses both the characters on stage and his audience. What he undermines i s security: the security of our b e l i e f that we know who we are, why we ex i s t , and who those with whom we l i v e (interact) r e a l l y are. The Dumb Waiter, despite a l l i t s e x i s t e n t i a l f r u s t r a t i o n and confusion, "WE'VE GOT NOTHING LEFT! NOTHING"21 i s an 20. Pinter, p. 159. 25 . immensely comic play u n t i l i t s f i n a l , e f f e c t i v e shock ending. Pin t e r i s above a l l else a great technician of the stage, orchestra-ting t h e a t r i c a l moments for t h e i r own sake. His p r i o r i t y as a playwright i s the creation of these moments, not philosophy. Occasionally, the two magically mix and the result i s a t h e a t r i c a l l y stated insight of ourselves. Pinter achieves t h i s sort of a moment with the conclusion of The Dumb Waiter, i n which he ja r s us anew with the unhappy r e a l i t y that we are not i n control of our own l i v e s . The Dumb Waiter i s highly reminiscent, i n mood, tone, and central action, of Beckett's Waiting f o r Godot. Whether The Dumb  Waiter i s consciously derivative or whether the p a r a l l e l s are accidental, there can be no question that both are concerned with the apparently unavoidable human condition of not understanding the purpose of our existence. Regardless of the a c t i v i t i e s i n which we engage, there i s an unescapable sense of suspension i n which we await revelation. In both plays, two men of long standing friendship engage i n the action of waiting. Not only do they wait, but they await a 21. Pinter, p. 162. 26 stranger. A stranger whom they endow with being i n command. A stranger whom they imagine has the answers to th e i r questions. The two mysterious strangers of these plays are both god-like i n that they hold complete power over the characters, and yet are never seen. In both plays, every action the characters make i s motivated by what they believe the stranger wants of them. I t i s the stranger, not themselves, who controls t h e i r l i v e s . In The Dumb Waiter, the stranger i s considerably more th e a t r i c a l and less philosophical. His power i s d i r e c t , present, and beyond question. We do not for a moment doubt the existence of t h i s stranger as we do that of Godot. There i s no escaping from the demanding, omnipotent stranger of t h i s play. Fate descends on Gus and Ben ju s t as surely as the dumb waiter descends between t h e i r beds. A possible pattern begins to emerge. Are the strangers of The Room and The Dumb Waiter messengers of Fate? No less f a t a l i s t i c and even more security shattering i s Pinter's next play, The Birthday Party. Having worked his way through the experiments of The Room, b u i l t around the tension of the expectation of a r r i v a l , and The Dumb Waiter, b u i l t around a stranger who i s never seen, Pinter proceeds to expand the experiment. In The Dumb Waiter, Pinter f i r s t begins to d i v e r s i f y his use of the stranger figure: both the voice at the end of the dumb waiter and Gus perform as strangers. In The Birthday Party, Pinter extends t h i s trend as he s p l i t s the stranger figure into two characters. For the f i r s t time, the strangers have d i s t i n c t i v e , observable personality t r a i t s . Whereas, we are never allowed to actually see the stranger i n The Dumb Waiter, and to see Riley of The Room for only a b r i e f time, we are allowed to observe the behavior of Goldberg and McCann i n a variety of situations. They interact with Stanley, for whom they bring the message; with Stanley's friends (surrogate family) Meg, Petey and Lulu; and perhaps most revealing of a l l , with each other. Goldberg and McCann maintain t h e i r mysteriousness, not because the author refuses to give any information about them, but because the information given i s of no assistance. Everything we learn about Goldberg and McCann serves to confuse. They are bizarre anomalies both as individuals and i n t h e i r association with each other. On the one hand, they appear to represent the establishment (McCann as I r i s h p r i e s t , Goldberg as family-conscious Jew) but i t i s an underdog establishment ( I r i s h and Jew). While they exalt the values of property, family, respect, and t r a d i t i o n , they perform as thugs: McCann has been defrocked, Goldberg molests and seduces Lulu. Goldberg has at least three choices for a f i r s t name, Simey (which McCann i s not allowed to c a l l him), Nat, and Benny. The hierarchy of the relationship between them t e l l s us that Goldberg i s i n charge: Goldberg drives the car, finds the location, gives the instructions and, when assigned to the job, requests McCann. None of t h i s information, however, t r u l y a s s i s t s i n defining them. They remain the agents of Monty, about whom we know absolutely nothing, and t h e i r motives remain as mysterious as those of Riley and Wilson. The skeletal structure of the f i r s t two plays remains: the central characters are threatened by a mysterious intruder. In The Birthday Party, Pinter extends the prototypes of Rose and Bert i n Meg and Petey. Stanley functions as a younger, equally i n f a n t i l e , brutal and impotent version of Bert/Petey. Meg, i t seems, f u l f i l l s a l l h i s needs of women - mother and whore. The seaside house, Meg, and Petey seem to f u l f i l l Stanley's meagre needs. Here he can re-write his past history without the interference of anyone else's memory. Stanley re l i s h e s the seclusion and anonymity of hi s s i t u a t i o n and the three of them function happily as a surrogate family. In Stanley's eyes, the a r r i v a l of any outsider to t h i s cozy group (even Lulu) i s suspiciously regarded. Stanley, as sequestered as Rose, seems to share the foreboding of t h i s e a r l i e r character. Like Rose, Stanley l i v e s i n seclusion, not so much from the desire of t r a n q u i l i t y as from an unstated fear of 'the outside', p a r t i c u l a r l y a fear of the a r r i v a l of someone from a past he prefers to exclude. Stanley's agitation over Meg's announcement that two gentlemen are caning signals h is fear. STANLEY. I don't believe i t . MEG. I t ' s true. STANLEY, (moving to her). You're saying i t on purpose. MEG. Petey t o l d me t h i s morning. STANLEY, (grinding his cigarette). When was t h i s ? When did he see them? MEG. Last night. STANLEY. Who are they? MEG. I don't know. STANLEY. Didn't he t e l l you t h e i r names? MEG. No. = STANLEY, (pacing the room). Here? They wanted to come here.? MEG. Yes, they did. (She takes the curlers out of her hair.) STANLEY. Why? MEG. This house i s on the l i s t . STANLEY. But who are they? MEG. You'll see when they come. STANLEY, (d e c i s i v e l y ) . They won't come. MEG. Why not? STANLEY, (quickly). I t e l l you they won't come. Why didn't they come la s t night, i f they were coming? MEG. Perhaps they couldn't f i n d the place i n the dark. I t ' s not an easy place to fi n d i n the dark. STANLEY. They won't come. Someone's taking the Michael. Forget a l l about i t . I t ' s a fa l s e alarm. A false alarm. (He s i t s at the table). Where's my t e a ? 2 2 Here, and elsewhere, Stanley gives c o n f l i c t i n g information as to whether he does or does not know the men who are coming. Pinter 22. Pinter, pp. 30-31. 30 teases h i s audience with t h i s out-of-proportion reaction which functions to reveal that Stanley has a reason to fear intrusion, but not to reveal what those reasons are. A few pages l a t e r , when Meg mentions the name 'Goldberg', Pinter implies, but does not confirm, a past association between Stanley and the unknown gentleman. Upon hearing the name Goldberg, Stanley attacks the toy drum, beating i t 'savagely as i f possessed 1. With t h i s action, Pinter avoids stating that Stanley actually knows Goldberg or even the name Goldberg. Pinter i s far too elusive to trap himself or his characters into such d e f i n i t i v e corners. The savage possession which overtakes Stanley and h i s drumming may well be i n t u i t i v e , or e n t i r e l y mystically induced. What i s of v i t a l importance here i s not the cause of Stanley's possession (since i t can be only speculatively ascertained), but i t s extremely careful placement d i r e c t l y on the heels of Meg revealing Goldberg's name. Pinter arranges these events i n such a way as to imply a connection which he chooses not to v e r i f y . Once again, he builds mysteriousness into the si t u a t i o n through ominous ambiguity. Pinter employs a t a c t i c already noted i n The Dumb Waiter i n which Stanley unwittingly outlines his own fate. Stanley teases Meg i n an ostensibly isolated comic b i t about two men i n a van with a wheelbarrow. STANLEY, (advancing). They're coming today. MEG. Who? STANLEY. And do you know what they've got i n that van? MEG. What? STANLEY. They've got a wheelbarrow i n that van. MEG. (breathlessly). They haven't. STANLEY. Oh yes they have. MEG. You're a l i a r . STANLEY, (advancing upon her). A big wheelbarrow. And when the van stops they wheel i t up the garden path, and then they knock at the front door. MEG. They don't. STANLEY. They're looking for someone. MEG. They're not. STANLEY. They're looking for someone. A certain person. MEG. No they're not! 2 3 ... and so on. As Stanley teases Meg, Pinter teases Stanley and h i s audience. The grim irony i s that i t i s h i s own, not Meg's fate, which Stanley adumbrates. The f i r s t knock on the door i s not the knock of the men i n the van, but the knock of a much more innocent guest — Lulu. Stanley's obsession with the destruction of his security from outside forces i s introduced with her a r r i v a l . Even Lulu i s a challenge to the soci a l structure of Stanley's surrogate family and his seclusion. Suspicious of a l l outsiders, Stanley 'sidles' to the door and l i s t e n s i n on Meg and Lulu's whispered conversation. 23. P i n t e r , p. 34. 32 . In functional terms, Lulu i s a character who stands between stranger and friend. She i s from the outside, but she i s a recognized friend of the surrogate mother, Meg. Through Lulu, Pinter reveals that Stanley reacts to a l l outsiders i n a s i m i l a r way, with h o s t i l i t y , suspicion and uncooperativeness. Lulu's threat i s extremely subtle and femininely expressed; her function, however, i s es s e n t i a l l y the same as that of Goldberg and McCann. LULU, ( r i s i n g . ) Come out and get a b i t of a i r . You depress me looking l i k e that. 2 4 A few pages l a t e r , Goldberg makes Lulu's offer a promise. GOLDBERG. We'll bring him out of h i m s e l f . 2 5 The basic difference i n approach to 'bring Stanley out of hi m s e l f i s that Lulu takes the job upon herself (presumably out of a personal motivation) while Goldberg and McCann have been sent (presumably by Monty) to do the 'job'. 24. Pinter, p. 36. 25. Pinter, p. 43. Lulu's character functions to reveal Stanley's rejection of offers to come out of himself. She represents Stanley's l a s t chance to reform by choice. She attempts to entreat him to clean himself up, wash h i s face, shave, get out. Her offers of a p i c n i c , a walk with her i n the fresh a i r , and cheese sandwiches are a l l gracelessly declined. I t i s immediately following t h i s refusal to help himself that Goldberg and McCann ar r i v e . The strangers acquire a curious, almost mystical power as a result of th e i r unusual a r r i v a l . This a r r i v a l , i t s timing, method, and purpose intimate the supernatural. They have neither a name nor an address, yet Goldberg assures McCann that t h i s i s the right place. Later, Goldberg has to query Meg regarding the identity of her tenant. GOLDBERG. Of course, And your guest? i s he a man? MEG. A man? GOLDBERG. Or a woman? MEG. No. A man. GOLDBERG. Been here long? MEG. He's been here about a year now. GOLDBERG. Oh yes, a resident. What's h i s name? MEG. Stanley Webber. GOLDBERG. Oh yes? 2 6 Once again, i t i s impossible for us to determine any s o l i d factual information regarding a previous association between Stanley and the 26. Pinter, p. 41. new a r r i v a l s . Only innuendo suggests that Goldberg and McCann ever knew Stanley Webber by t h i s , or any other name. In the end, we know l i t t l e more of Goldberg and McCann than we do of Riley, or the voice at the end of the dumb waiter. Goldberg and McCann manage to maintain t h e i r stranger status throughout. The intrusion of Go1dberg/McCann upon Stanley has a considerably sharper edge to i t than the intrusion of the stranger i n the two previous plays. The source of authority for the power of Riley and the dumb waiter i s unknown. Goldberg and McCann, however, have the obvious authority of being thugs. They are not t o t a l l y incapable of sophistication i n t a c t i c s , however, as they f l a t t e r t h e i r way past the simple-minded Meg and v i r t u a l l y take over the running of her house, i n s i s t i n g that there be a party for Stanley tonight. Stanley does attempt, however feebly, to protect himself and the surrogate family from these intruders. Summoning h i s bravado, Stanley announces to McCann that t h i s i s the wrong house, that t h i s i s n ' t even a boarding house. A few pages l a t e r , he t e l l s Goldberg that the house i s f u l l and they w i l l have to move on. In both instances, Goldberg and McCann respond with references to Stanley's birthday - a birthday which Stanley denies. Clearly, the birthday i s quite special and unique. Goldberg's congratulations are unnervingly c h i l l i n g . GOLDBERG. (...) What a thing to c e l e b r a t e — b i r t h ! Like getting up i n the morning. Marvellous! Some people don't l i k e the idea of getting up i n the morning, they say, what i s i t ? Your skin's crabby, you need a shave, your eyes are f u l l of muck, your mouth i s l i k e a boghouse, the palms of your hands are f u l l of sweat, your nose i s clogged up, your feet stink, what are you but a corpse waiting to be washed? Whenever I hear that point of view I f e e l cheerful. Because I know what i t i s to wake up with the sun shining, to the sound of the lawnmower, a l l the l i t t l e birds, the smell of the grass, church b e l l s , tomato j u i c e — STANLEY. Get out. 2 7 Stanley, who w i l l be th e i r victim, i s the only one who i s aware of the i r threat. Goldberg and McCann proceed to interrogate Stanley, playing a switchback pattern (common to authority figures) where one plays the heavy while the other plays a friend. The pattern functions to dir e c t i t s v i c t i m into the hands of the perceived friend, who thus attains the o r i g i n a l purpose. They play on whatever precarious s t a b i l i t y Stanley has, tossing him back and forth l i k e a beachball, intimidating with threats, lectures on morality and accusations of Stanley's immorality. GOLDBERG. Where was your wife? STANLEY. In -GOLDBERG. Answer. STANLEY, (turning, crouched). What wife? GOLDBERG. What have you done with your wife? MCCANN. He's k i l l e d h i s wife. 27. Pinter, p. 55. GOLDBERG. Why did you k i l l your wife? STANLEY, ( s i t t i n g , h is back to the audience). What wife? GOLDBERG. Why did you never get married? MCCANN. She was waiting at the porch. GOLDBERG. You skeddadled from the wedding. MCCANN. You l e f t her i n the lurch. 2 8 They interrogate him with impossible questions. GOLDBERG. Is the number 846 possible or necessary? STANLEY. Neither. GOLDBERG. Wrong! Is the number 846 possible or necessary? STANLEY. Both GOLDBERG. Wrong! I t ' s necessary but not possible. STANLEY. Both. GOLDBERG. Wrong! 2 9 ... and so on. Goldberg and McCann's t a c t i c s grind Stanley down, str i p p i n g him of h i s i d e n t i t y , rendering him helplessly disoriented and incapable of defence. The action which they effect upon Stanley i s v i s u a l l y amplified i n McCann's apparently aimless shredding of newspapers. Goldberg and McCann's motives remain a mystery; t h e i r brutal methods, however, and th e i r determination to bring Stanley out of himself are perfectly clear. 28. Pinter, pp. 59-60. 29. Pinter, p. 30. 37 Not only i s the function of the stranger d i v e r s i f i e d i n t h i s play, but also the reaction to the stranger within the group. The physical location of the play has enlarged, going from a single room to a house. S i m i l a r i l y , the group whom the stranger v i s i t s i s enlarged and Pinter explores v a r i a t i o n of response to the intruders. Meg remains oblivious, imagining t h e i r teasing to be f l a t t e r y , thinking i t a l l a game and she was the 'belle of the b a l l ' . Lulu too i s taken i n , recognizing t h e i r insidious e v i l only after i t i s too l a t e . Petey, the only other male of the play, absents himself from interaction with the new tenants. Only as they are escorting Stanley to Monty's does he b r i e f l y , feebly, question t h e i r interference. He i s quickly silenced, however, by t h e i r i n v i t a t i o n to come along. Petey recognizes that the authority of these strangers, and the stranger, Monty, whom they represent, i s not to be questioned. Both Goldberg and McCann are capable of and w i l l i n g to play the role of chum — so long as t h e i r authority remains unquestioned. Meg who never questions i s never threatened. Lulu and Petey, upon questioning i t , are immediately put into t h e i r place. The actions and reactions of Goldberg/McCann indicate a pattern which does not tolerate the questioning of authority. Their actions indicate that i t was t h i s , perhaps, that was Stanley's crime. 38 . A l l three plays suggest a powerful off-stage presence who apparently composes the messages delivered by Ril e y , the dumb waiter, and Goldberg and McCann. The presence of such omniscient presences gives each of these plays metaphorical and a l l e g o r i c a l resonances. In each, i t seems inevitable that these messengers w i l l be delivered, and that change w i l l occur. GOLDBERG. If we hadn't come today we'd have come tomorrow.30 Fate descends on Rose, Gus and Stanley, as a result of the a r r i v a l s of Ri l e y , the dumb waiter, and Goldberg/McCann. These a r r i v a l s are ostensibly unexpected. The characters maintain the pretense of innocent surprise over these a r r i v a l s , while the audience senses t h e i r i n e v i t a b i l i t y . Pinter nags h i s characters and his audience with the a r r i v a l of strangers, unexpected and yet ine v i t a b l e , who w i l l completely disarrange the precarious order of our l i v e s . Pinter i n t e n s i f i e s the mystical quality of these experiences by refusing to draw direct l i n e s between his strangers and the changes evoked. By innuendo, Pinter forces us to make the connections. Is i t R i l e y , or Bert, or the combination of Bert, Ri l e y and Rose, who causes Roses's blindness? In The Dumb Waiter -30. Pinter, p. 42. we are l e f t with the stunning tableau of Ben with h i s gun lev e l l e d at the l i t e r a l l y stripped Gus. Is the stranger at the end of the dumb waiter v e r i f i a b l y responsible for t h i s situation? In The  Birthday Party, Stanley i s transformed from being a washout to a babbling c r i p p l e , dependent on Goldberg and McCann for everything. We i n t u i t i v e l y grasp that Goldberg and McCann, and ultimately Monty, are somehow responsible for t h i s overwhelming d e b i l i t a t i o n ; yet Pinter c a r e f u l l y withholds the par t i c u l a r s of just how i t came about. The scene i n which Stanley breaks i s l i t e r a l l y played i n the dark. In each of these three plays, Pinter makes i t impossible to d e f i n i t i v e l y ascribe a direct casual l i n k between the stranger and the changes effected, but that the strangers' function i n the drama as the p r e c i p i t a t i n g events of these changes i s by now a d i s t i n c t recurring pattern. The next play, A S l i g h t Ache, echoes most of the devices, subjects and themes of the f i r s t three. Again, there i s a stranger, more overtly i d e n t i f i a b l e as unknown than any of the previous strangers. The matchseller i s , almost despite better judgement, inv i t e d into the home of Edward and Flora. A number of changes appear with A S l i g h t Ache. Perhaps the most important of them i s Pinter's diminished use of shock and graphic violence. His taste for violence begins to function more and more on psychological l e v e l s . A second important difference i s the change i n s o c i a l status of the characters. The drama and trauma of characters who cannot control t h e i r own l i v e s , moves from i t s lower class setting into the home of a highly educated, economically successful couple. I t i s too easy to imagine that these strangers and the people upon whom they intrude come only from the gutter c l a s s . Pinter i s not going to l e t h i s audience off the hook so ea s i l y ; he begins to d i r e c t l y challenge the middle class who, by now, form that audience. 31 A Sl i g h t Ache was f i r s t produced as a radio drama and Pinter's creation of the stranger figure i s affected by t h i s , as he uses the medium to hi s advantage to contribute to the amorphous nature of the stranger. As a character, the matchseller manages to be less definable even than the voice at the end of the dumb waiter, for that stranger at least gives orders. Creating a stranger who never speaks, Pinter teases h i s radio audience with the p o s s i b i l i t y that the matchseller i s a figment of Edward and Flora's j o i n t imagination. In stage production where the matchseller appears as a l i v i n g figure, i t i s imperative that t h i s uncertainty as to hi s r e a l i t y be maintained. As an audience, we are e n t i r e l y dependent on 31. This p a r a l l e l s Pinter's own change of class from Hackney-born Jewish student actor to eminent playwright with a home i n Hampstead. Edward and Flora's visions of the matchseller. In t h i s way, the stranger once again functions to reveal the central characters. Pinter s p l i t s the stranger function i n an extremely humorous way. There are i n fact two strangers, two intruders, i n A S l i g h t Ache. The f i r s t i s successfully eliminated while the second successfully eliminates. Surely the wasp intruding upon Flora and Edward's breakfast table i s conscious self-parody. The scene with the wasp functions, not only as a successful comic b i t on i t s own, but also as an i r o n i c amplification of Edward's reactions to intruders. The wasp serves v i r t u a l l y the same function as does the la t e r stranger, the matchseller: both pierce Edward's external s h e l l of sophistication and g e n t i l i t y exposing h i s t r i v i a l meanness. EDWARD. Cover the marmalade. FLORA. What? EDWARD. Cover the pot. There's a wasp. (He puts the paper down on the table.) Don't move. Keep s t i l l . What are you doing? FLORA. Covering the pot. EDWARD. Don't move. Leave i t . Keep s t i l l . Pause. Give me the 'Telegraph'. FLORA. Don't h i t i t . I t ' l l b i t e . EDWARD. Bite? What do you mean bite ? Keep s t i l l . (Pause) I t ' s landing. FLORA. I t ' s going i n the pot. EDWARD. Give me the l i d . FLORA. I t ' s i n . EDWARD. Give me the l i d . FLORA. I ' l l do i t . EDWARD. Give i t to me! Now... Slowly.... FLORA. What are you doing? EDWARD. Be quiet. Slowly carefully...on...the...pot! Ha-ha-ha. Very good. 3 2 EDWARD. Ah, yes. T i l t the pot. T i l t . Aah...down here...right down...blinding him...that 1 s • • • i t • FLORA. Is i t ? EDWARD. L i f t the l i d . A l l r i g h t , I w i l l . There he i s ! Dead What a monster. (He squashes i t on a plate.) FLORA. What an awful experience. EDWARD. What a beautiful day i t i s . B e a u t i f u l . 3 3 The s i t u a t i o n i s macabre, at once humorous and grotesque. The influence of Hitchcock continues to express i t s e l f as Pinter's sense of irony matures and he seeks out d r o l l methods of revealing the brutish mentality of Bert i n a higher class character. The wasp, however comic, i s actually more of an intruder than the matchseller. Though h i s danger potential may be minimal, 32. Pi n t e r , p. 171. 33. Pinter, p. 174. he i s c e r t a i n l y disruptive, and i t i s not out of place for Edward and F l o r a to be frightened by t h i s insect buzzing round t h e i r marmalade. The matchseller, on the other hand, does nothing to intrude. He i s b l i n d , mute, possibly deaf and void of any assertive action - he doesn't even try to s e l l h is matches. I t i s Edward who i n s i s t s on i n v i t i n g him i n , because to Edward the mere presence of t h i s unknown enti t y i s an intrusion. Edward becomes infuriated and obsessed, incapable of concentrating on anything but who t h i s man i s . EDWARD. I want to speak to that man. I want to have a word with him. Pause. I t ' s quite absurd, of course. I r e a l l y can't tolerate something so ... absurd, ri g h t on my doorstep. I s h a l l not tolerate i t . He's sold nothing a l l morning. No one passed. Yes. A monk passed. A non-smoker. I haven't wasted my time. I've h i t , i n fact, upon the truth. He's not a matchseller at a l l . The bastard i s n ' t a matchseller at a l l . Curious I never realized that before. He's an imposter. I watched him very closely. What a farce. No, there i s something very false about that man. I intend to get to the bottom of i t . I ' l l soon get r i d of him. He can go and ply h i s trade somewhere else. Instead of standing l i k e a bullock...a bullock, outside my back gate...34 34. pp. 178-179. The matchseller has a quality of other-worldliness reminiscent of Ri l e y . Both are blind and function as seers. He seems to have arrived from nowhere. They never see him arrive or depart, they never see him s e l l any matches, t h e i r back road leads to nothing but a monastery, and even the p r i e s t s use a short-cut to the v i l l a g e . He i s ageless, nameless, faceless and thus has the capacity to be a l l things to a l l people. Due to his t o t a l l y amorphous nature, the matchseller functions as a blank character upon whom Edward and Flora can project whatever images, memories, or powers they choose. He i s not who he i s , but a r e f l e c t i o n of themselves. To the b r u t a l , e g o t i s t i c and insecure Edward, the matchseller represents male challenge and evokes anger, f r u s t r a t i o n and fear. Edward pours out h i s destructive energies toward the matchseller and i n return i s destroyed. Flora, as sensual mother, pours out a f f e c t i o n and romantic fantasies and imagines that she receives love i n return. The matchseller exerts no personal power; i t i s Edward who endows him with power. When Edward cannot assign an i d e n t i t y to the matchseller, he i s reduced to endowing him with h i s own ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Thus, the matchseller usurps Edward as Edward would usurp, taking over h i s home and most prized possession - his wife. The matchseller does not cause but i n t e n s i f i e s Edward's uncertainty and insecurity and his apparent i n a b i l i t y to organize and to cope. Edward's eyeache exists before he instru c t s Flora to in v i t e the matchseller i n . ( I t begins amidst his attempts to k i l l the wasp.) As Edward probes but can find nothing, as he reveals himself before the matchseller, that ache increases, eventually taking over and d e b i l i t a t i n g him. Edward grovels helplessly: EDWARD. ...(with great, f i n a l e f f o r t — a whisper) Who are you? 3 5 The more energy Edward invests i n discovering who the matchseller i s (what h i s anxieties are), the more anxious and incapacitated he becomes. A theme of man's - p a r t i c u l a r l y modern man's - i n a b i l i t y to discover the d i r e c t cause of his anxieties begins to emerge. The action of each of these f i r s t four plays, at t h e i r most basic l e v e l , forms a d i s t i n c t recurring pattern. In each, Pint e r creates an opening s i t u a t i o n i n which the characters calmly proceed with the business of well-established d a i l y routines. In each case we sense a touch of uneasiness i n the apparent p l a c i d i t y of these routines. In each play there i s at least one character who exhi b i t s some ' s l i g h t ache' (Rose's fear of i s o l a t i o n , Gus' confusion and desire to understand, Stanley's desire to escape i n t o anonymity and o b l i v i o n ) . In each case, the a r r i v a l of a stranger precipitates the ache becoming profound. I employ the word precipitates to re-emphasize that the strangers do not perform actions which d i r e c t l y cause the demise of the protagonists. Pinter i s more complicated than that. The fact 35. Pinter, p. 199. that Pinter so f a s t i d i o u s l y avoids d i r e c t causal r e l a t i o n must not be overlooked. Like the other strangers, the matchseller delivers a message. More accurately, his presence catalyses the delivery of a message which comes from within. That i s , i n A S l i g h t Ache the message does not originate from an external force but with Edward and F l o r a themselves. I t serves to reveal unknown or denied parts of themselves. This stranger, who does not bring a message but r e f l e c t s one, presents some frightening p o s s i b i l i t i e s . The presence of the matchseller, l i k e that of Riley, the dumb waiter, and Goldberg/ McCann, has an a i r of i n e v i t a b i l i t y . The fact that he does not a c t i v e l y do anything, emphasizes that Edward's usurpation and Flora's performing the role of sensual mother are inevitable. I f h i s coming i s inevitable and h i s message i s a r e f l e c t i v e one, then the stranger i s a figure of Fate. In retrospect, i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to f i n d reasons for Rose, Gus and Stanley to have been delivered the messages they receive. Perhaps the fates of Rose, Gus and Stanley were not completely out of t h e i r control as e a r l i e r suggested, but unknowingly i n t h e i r control. Perhaps they are, i n some way, responsible for the character of the guests who arrive i n t h e i r l i v e s . Is i t a true change of si t u a t i o n that these strangers catalyse, or are they merely the instruments which play out the f i n a l phase of an already determined path? The implication i s that Pinter's,protagonists are not necessarily the victims of these v i s i t o r s alone, but of themselves. II The Stranger as F a i l e d Usurper J u s t l y , The Caretaker i s recognized as a landmark i n Pinter's work. The play was written i n 1959, a peak year for Pinter's writings both i n p r o l i f e r a t i o n and qua l i t y . With The  Caretaker, Pinter displays his talent for t h e a t r i c a l i t y with a new subtlety and density. The play e n t a i l s a considerable maturation i n character type and development, i n action t a c t i c s , and i n theme and ideas. The exploration of threat to one's security becomes more t h e a t r i c a l l y sophisticated and more exciting as Pinter turns toward vacuum cleaners and tote bags as weapons. Actions and ideas are worked out more slowly, quietly, and much more thoroughly than i n the e a r l i e r plays. The play, as r i c h i n image and metaphor as the stage i s cluttered with junk, i s unquestionably the most dense of the early works. The characters take on a new complexity. In terms of supplying his characters with past h i s t o r i e s , previously Pinter has s k i l l f u l l y employed absence of d e t a i l and occasional dis-associated nuances to provide impressionistic backgrounds. With t h i s play, Pinter begins to f l e s h out the pasts of h i s characters, allowing them to reveal s p e c i f i c and lengthy d e t a i l s of past events. With these past h i s t o r i e s comes a sudden increase i n our quantity of clues as to the motivations of both inside and outside characters. Amidst a l l these changes i n Pinter's o v e r a l l s t y l e , there remains the connecting thread of the stranger. As the stranger becomes less a l l e g o r i c a l and more r e a l i s t i c , so do the plays. Even i f Riley was an i n t u i t i v e invention by a young playwright, by the time of composing The Caretaker Pinter i s f u l l y i n control of the stranger as a device. Pinter begins to play with the structure of stranger-insider encounters, enticing, teasing our i n t u i t i v e and i n t e l l e c t u a l s e n s i b i l i t i e s . In The Caretaker, whose key phrase might well be "What's the game?",1 Pinter presents the opening tableau of a man wearing a leather jacket s i t t i n g s i l e n t l y i n a junk f i l l e d room. Silence He slowly looks about the room looking at each object i n turn. He looks up at the c e i l i n g , and stares at the bucket. Ceasing, he s i t s quite s t i l l , expression-l e s s , looking out front. Silence for t h i r t y seconds. A door bangs. Muffled voices are heard. Mick turns h i s head. He stands, moves s i l e n t l y to the door, goes out, and closes the door qu i e t l y . S i l e n c e . 2 Like Gus' mime, t h i s short, t i g h t dramatic moment instantly arouses our c u r i o s i t y . Unlike Gus' mime, i t i s e n t i r e l y devoid of humour or entertainment i n i t s e l f . This mime has value only i n connection to the play i t introduces, but i n that context, i t s value i s considerable. Mick i s planted i n the room s p e c i f i c a l l y to arouse our suspicions and speculations. 1. Harold Pinter, PLAYS: TWO, The Caretaker, The C o l l e c t i o n ,  The Lover, Night School, The Dwarfs (London: Cox & Wyman Ltd., 1977), p. 38. 2. P i n t e r , p. 16. 49 Whether one i s f a m i l i a r with or a newcomer to Pinter's work, Mick has a l l the earmarks of an ominous stranger. His behaviour suggests that he i s not f a m i l i a r with, and does not belong i n , t h i s room. Upon hearing footsteps, he quickly s l i p s away. A l l the audience i s allowed to know about t h i s character i s that he does not wish to be seen. Pinter contrives to confuse for an excellent reason. Curiosity about Mick and the secret of h i s e a r l i e r presence i n the room holds the audience through a dangerously slow-moving, expository f i r s t act. We are held with the memory of t h i s mysterious character and the unspoken promise of h i s re-appearance. Meanwhile, Pinter seizes the opportunity to su r r e p t i t i o u s -l y introduce h i s real stranger - Davies. Davies i s a stranger both i n the sense of being a newcomer, previously unknown, unaccustomed to the brother's habits, and i n the sense that he i s not a member of t h e i r group. Aston i n v i t e s him home and he i s offered a chance to become a member of the group, but he mistakenly aligns himself with the wrong brother and i s subsequently expelled. The strangers of the f i r s t four plays have always, through one means or another, been endowed with immense power. They have a l l been ominous, seemingly omniscient and imbued with mystic and symbolic q u a l i t i e s . We do not knew what ( i f any) secrets Riley knows about Rose/Sal, nor how she goes blind ; why Wilson (or whoever) has decided to turn Ben against Gus, nor how he manages to get Gus from the loo to the victim's entrance; how Goldberg and McCann have located the seaside house where Stanley l i v e s , nor how he becomes the babbling moron of the t h i r d act; why the matchseller has chosen Edward and Flora's back gate, nor how he l i q u e f i e s Edward. With The Caretaker, t h i s sort of symbolic mysticism ends. What happens between Mick, Aston and Davies occurs on psychologically r e a l l e v e l s . Davies i s not the agent of some larger undefined force; he has no message to d e l i v e r . Davies i s a stranger who needs the h o s p i t a l i t y of Aston and Mick. I t i s now the stranger who trembles i n the fear of the outside, of expulsion. For the f i r s t time, i t i s the stranger whom we f i n d grovelling at the play's close. In order to provide the increased realism i n action and outcome of The Caretaker, Pinter develops more complex characters than ever before. Mick, complete with leather jacket and h i s own van (an apparent object of power i n Pinter's w r i t i n g s ) , exhibits a menacing and brutal nature which reminds us of several characters from the early works. Pinter plays a t r i c k on us with Mick for (a) he i s not the stranger we at f i r s t assume him to be, and (b) ultimately, i t i s not b r u t a l i t y , but brotherly concern which rules Mick. If Aston has any ancestor i n the Pi n t e r canon, i t could only by Stanley; Aston as a possible version of the Stanley who emerged from 'treatments' at Monty's. B a s i c a l l y , however, Aston i s a new character f o r Pinter. Simple though he may seem, the more closel y we observe him the more complex he becomes. I t i s i n fact Aston who i s Davies' possible salvation; Aston who extends true friendship to Davies. Davies' mistake i s that of aligning himself with Mick, the surrogate friend, and only apparently the stronger brother. I t must be noted that i t i s not Mick, but Aston who expels Davies. Mick takes action only following Aston's decision that Davies 'stinks' and had best 'find somewhere else'. Davies too, i s es s e n t i a l l y a new character. He i s complex and f u l l of paradox, at once pathetic and disgusting. Unlike the previous strangers, he reveals himself completely. Unlike the previous strangers he i s powerless. His attempts to threaten are simultaneously miserable and absurd. The stranger as a character and as a device undergoes considerable expansion i n The Caretaker. The outcome of the f i r s t four plays f i n d a common denominator i n the destruction of the inside characters. In The Caretaker, i t i s the newcomer who i s destroyed. The outcome for the inside characters i s one of un i f i c a t i o n . As the character of the stranger and the resu l t s of h i s presence expand and develop, so do the t h e a t r i c a l t a c t i c s which surround him. The a r r i v a l of the stranger has persistently moved forward from The Room to The Caretaker. Davies arrives i n the f i r s t moments of the play. A l l previous strangers have been invited into a c l e a r l y established relationship/situation. The relationship between Aston and Mick, however, i s defined throughout the work. Like the e a r l i e r strangers, Davies has been i n v i t e d , but unlike them, once inside the room he does not, despite numerous attempts, take command of the space. Where Ril e y , the dumb waiter, Goldberg and McCann, and the matchseller have exhibited power, Davies ex h i b i t s weakness. With each of the strangers, there has been considerable d i f f i c u l t y i n assigning d i s t i n c t i d e n t i t y ; while t h i s has served to heighten the ominous mysteriousness and power quotient of the e a r l i e r strangers, with Davies i t functions to weaken. ASTON. Where were you born? DAVIES. I was...uh...oh, i t ' s a b i t hard l i k e , to set your mind back...see what I mean...going back...a good way...lose a b i t of track, like...you know....3 DAVIES. I got plenty of references. A l l I got to do i s go down to Sidcup tommorow. I got a l l the references I want down there. MICK. Where's that? DAVIES. Sidcup. He ain't only got my references down there, he got a l l my papers down there. I know the place l i k e the back of my hand. I'm going down there anyway, see what I mean, I got to get down there, or I'm done. MICK. So we can always get hold of these references i f we want them. DAVIES. I ' l l be down there any day, I t e l l you. I was going down today, but I'm waiting for the weather to break. MICK. Ah. 4 This i s the f i r s t time Pinter has introduced a stranger who requires pieces of paper to prove who he i s . As the stranger, Davies' needs, motives, and methods are extremely unlike those of 3. Pinter, p. 34. 4. Pinter, p. 60. the strangers of the preceding plays, yet h i s purpose i n the overall structure of the play's action remains the same. His presence causes the characters to reveal themselves, not as they would to each other, but as to a stranger. His a r r i v a l and subsequent expulsion functions to strengthen the bond between brothers. Pinter toys with Davies (and h i s audience) through the character of Mick. From Davies' point of view, Mick must be preceived as an intruder. Just as Davies has found himself a nice warm, dry spot, an unknown man s l i p s into the room, forces him to the f l o o r and demands, "What's the game?"5 As the audience, we know only two things about Mick- that he has been here before and that he has a key. We do not yet know how he f i t s into the world of t h i s play. Davies, however, knows nothing and i s threatened, mystified and intruded upon. Pinter has managed to d i v e r s i f y the stranger function i n a new way. The true stranger, Davies, i s intruded upon by Mick who plays stranger games. In the overall scheme of things, Davies must be seen as the true stranger and Mick only as a surrogate stranger. Mick reveals i n the opening of Act I I that t h i s i s his room, his bed, and that Davies has been befriended by h i s brother. The i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of Aston and Mick as brothers does not deter Pinter from allowing Mick to continue to employ many of the t a c t i c s previously used by the stranger figures. Throughout, Mick plays a game of cat and mouse with Davies, drawing him out, then slapping him back down. 5. Pi n t e r , p. 38. 54 . Mick engages Aston i n t h i s game during the tote bag sequence and, for a moment, the two become reminiscent of Goldberg/McCann. Mick also interrogates Davies i n a Goldberg/McCann s t y l e . MICK. What's your name? DAVIES. ( s h i f t i n g , about to r i s e ) . Now look here! MICK. What? DAVIES. Jenkins! MICK. Jen...kins. DAVIES makes a sudden move to r i s e . A v i o l e n t bellow from MICK sends h i s back. (A shout.) Sleep here l a s t night? DAVIES. Yes... MICK, (continuing at great pace.) How'd you sleep? DAVIES. I slept — MICK. Sleep well? DAVIES. Now look — MICK. What bed? DAVIES. That — MICK. Not the other? DAVIES. No! MICK. Choosy. Pause (Quietly) Choosy. Pause (Again amiable.) What sort of sleep did you have i n that bed? DAVIES. (banging on f l o o r ) . A l l r i g h t ! 6 ... and so on. Unlike the e a r l i e r plays, i n The Caretaker the stranger i s on the begging end of the s t i c k . This time i t i s he who i s mystified. Though he intrudes, he i s also intruded upon. His 6. P i n t e r , pp. 41-42 55 function i n the plot , however, remains sim i l a r to the e a r l i e r strangers, for i t i s through Davies that Aston and Mick reveal themselves. I t i s through Davies that the relationship between Aston and Mick undergoes change. Each of the strangers, including Davies, have i n f l i c t e d or have been implicated i n the i n f l i c t i o n of physical pain or disablement. The turnabout with Davies i s that t h i s i n f l i c t i o n does not affect others but himself. In try i n g to play the game of intrusion so successfully played by h i s predecessors, Davies suffers derision and defeat. Davies catalyses an openly p o s i t i v e change of si t u a t i o n for Aston and Mick. The brothers enhance t h e i r friendship (kinship) and understanding of one another i n the expulsion of Davies. ASTON comes i n . He closes the door, moves into the room and faces MICK. They look at each other. Both are smiling, f a i n t l y . 7 This f i n a l moment i s the f i r s t time i n the play that the brothers actually relate to one another without using Davies as a sort of conduit. Each know who he i s , h i s place, and that of Davies. They are at peace, a peace which seems to require a t h i r d party i n order to be attained. I t i s as i f the brothers cannot relate d i r e c t l y , but only through the taunting of a t h i r d party. 7. Pinter, p. 84. 56 The t r i b e i s united; the intruder expelled. U n i f i c a t i o n i s the object of the game; a game which cannot be played with the stranger, but which needs the stranger to be played. ASTON. No. I l i k e sleeping i n t h i s bed. DAVIES. But you don't understand my meaning! ASTON. Anyway, that one's my brother's bed. I t s the only bed I can sleep i n . DAVIES. But your brother's gone! He's gone! Pause ASTON. No. I couldn't change beds! 8 The ancient Arab proverb i s once again proved true. 'Myself against my brother; my brother and I against my cousin; my cousin and I against the world'. I l l Stranger Sex I t was not u n t i l 3 years l a t e r i n 1962 that Pi n t e r wrote his next successful s c r i p t , The C o l l e c t i o n . He did write two t e l e v i s i o n s c r i p t s , Night School and The Dwarfs, i n the interim. Though neither were popular with c r i t i c s or public, they figure importantly i n the progression of Pinter's work. The Dwarfs, i n p a r t i c u l a r , the most autobiographical of Pinter's work, reveals certain of h i s obsessions. LEN. The rooms we l i v e i n ... open and shut. Pause Can't you see? They change shape at t h e i r own w i l l . Pinter's obsessions with rooms, the shapes they take on, t h e i r security and ultimate lack of security, a l l are revealed i n these three short sentences. Since i t i s rather d i f f i c u l t , i f not impossible, to change the shape of stage rooms (though Pinter does seem to manage i t i n The Homecoming), Pinter's rearrangement of space becomes dependent 1. Harold Pi n t e r , PLAYS: TWO, The Caretaker, The C o l l e c t i o n ,  The Lover, Night School, The Dwarfs (London: Cox & Wyman Ltd., 1977), p. 99. 58 . on character. The character who changes the shape of rooms, i n fact the shape of l i v e s , i n the Pinter play i s the stranger. The Lover and The C o l l e c t i o n were o r i g i n a l l y written for t e l e v i s i o n . In both, however, Pinter continues to explore the use of stranger figures and to develop the idea of the stranger as a thematic concept. The major focus i n both plays i s sex, i n p a r t i c u l a r , stranger-sex. The C o l l e c t i o n i s based upon the mutual fantasy of S t e l l a and B i l l who enjoy s i t t i n g over a drink discussing what they might have done i f they had gone upstairs. They do not l i v e out, but only toy with the fantasy of stranger sex. In The Lover, t h i s form of fantasy takes on another v a r i a t i o n ; Sarah and Richard stimulate t h e i r sex l i v e s by pretending to be strangers. In The C o l l e c t i o n , Pinter's use of the stranger figure takes another step away from allegory toward realism. The soc i a l s trata of Pinter characters f i r s t began to change with A S l i g h t  Ache. By the The C o l l e c t i o n , the status of both protagonists and strangers has changed. Pinter increases the psychological rather than the physical terror the strangers evoke, as they progress from thugs, pub bums, or matchsellers to the stratum of respectable, educated society. Thus i t i s f i t t i n g that i n The C o l l e c t i o n the stranger does not come from the amphorous, awesome outside, but from inside. This i s an extremely important development i n the idea of 59 . how one defines who i s a stranger. I t i s with The C o l l e c t i o n that the existence of strangers from within the family unit i s f i r s t recognized. Another development i n the use of the stranger as a dramatic t a c t i c i s the transference of the stranger function from James at the beginning of the play to S t e l l a at i t s close. A game which Pinter begins i n The Caretaker of 'who i s the re a l stranger?' i s promulgated and developed, becoming the focal point of The Co l l e c t i o n . The mood of the game i s considerably l e s s serious here than i n The Caretaker, allowing Pinter to concentrate less on depth of character and more on the 'roles' which each character plays. Pi n t e r begins by parodying himself with a caricature of the stranger figure, f i r s t introducing James only as the 'voice'. The telephone box i s l i t i n a half l i g h t . A figure can be dimly observed inside i t , with his back to the audience. The rest of the stage i s dark. In the house the telephone i s ringing. I t i s late at night. Night l i g h t i n house fades up. Street fades up. HARRY approaches the house, opens the front door and goes i n . He switches on a l i g h t i n the h a l l , goes in t o the living-room, walks to the t e l e -phone and l i f t s i t . HARRY. Hullo. 2. Pinter i n i t i a l l y explores t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y i n The Caretaker with Mick, but i t i s not u n t i l The C o l l e c t i o n that he allows the characters to recognize t h i s disturbing p o s s i b i l i t y . 60 . VOICE. Is that you B i l l ? HARRY. No. He's i n bed. Who's t h i s ? VOICE. In bed? HARRY. Who i s t h i s ? VOICE. What's he doing i n bed? 3 Pinter pinpoints the recurring question of h i s plays "Who i s t h i s ? " . The voice i n the dark i s a throw-back to Pinter's e a r l i e r mystery-t h r i l l e r techniques of the unknown man i n the ordinary yet vaguely disturbing s i t u a t i o n . His use of such techniques i s considerably more sophisticated and, i n t h i s b r i e f opening exchange between HARRY and VOICE, Pinter manages to intimidate Harry, while intriguing and amusing h i s audience. Once again, Pinter plays with the delicate balance of f a m i l i a r i t y and strangeness, as t h i s completely unknown person casually suggests that Harry wake up B i l l at four o'clock i n the morning. VOICE. Well, give him a nudge. T e l l him I want a word with him. (pause). HARRY. Who i s this? VOICE. Go and wake him up, there's a good boy. S t i l l u nidentified, the c a l l e r rings off with a promise of future contact which i s simultaneously casual and threatening. 3. Pinter, p. 121. 4. Pin t e r , p. 121. 61 . VOICE. T e l l him I ' l l be i n touch. 0 James' patronizing f a m i l i a r i t y (so necessary since he doesn't r e a l l y have any true stranger power) i s h i s f i r s t t a c t i c of intimidation. Though James seems to be i n control he i s just as much i n the dark as are B i l l and Harry. I t i s gradually revealed that he knows even less than B i l l and thus cannot wield power over him. For a time, however, James uses the l i t t l e knowledge he has ( B i l l ' s name and address) to considerable advantage. James i s shrewd enough not to i d e n t i f y himself or h i s motive, (a recurring device of the strangers of the previous plays) and h i s i n t u i t i o n for not doing so i s d i s t i n c t l y correct. As soon as James loses the screen of opaqueness which keeps B i l l from iden t i f y i n g him, he loses h is position as stranger and thus h i s power, becoming no more than a frustrated, somewhat bul l y i n g husband. James i s thus revealed to be no more than a 'temporary' stranger, a character who only plays at being a stranger when the r e a l stranger of t h i s play i s his own wife. As stranger, James employs t a c t i c s s i m i l a r to those of Goldberg and McCann. He intimates, demands, i s unknowable, yet knows or appears to know B i l l . While maintaining the subterfuge of the most amiable s o c i a l intentions, he exerts controlled pressure on B i l l . None of these t a c t i c s , however, work. James i s unable to resolve the r i d d l e of his wife's f i d e l i t y . The games of "button, 5. Pi n t e r , p. 121. 62 . button, who's got the button" or "what happened l a s t week at Leeds", i n i t i a t e d by James, are h i s eventual demise. He already doubts h i s wife enough to have to seek v e r i f i c a t i o n of her story. What h i s search provides, however, i s v e r i f i c a t i o n of the unhappy r e a l i t y that S t e l l a has become a stranger. S t e l l a , as a stranger, employs the t a c t i c of silence e a r l i e r observed i n the matchseller. Much l i k e the strangers of previous plays, her success i s not due so much to s p e c i f i c actions as to knowledge. She holds power and maintains the position of stranger to her husband through the knowledge of what did occur i n Leeds. With S t e l l a and The C o l l e c t i o n , the r o l e of stranger becomes more d i f f i c u l t to define. Pinter again emphasizes that i t i s the relationship between people, not the inherent q u a l i t i e s of any i n d i v i d u a l , which characterizes someone as a stranger. The d e f i n i t i o n i s subject then to the inconsistency of any human relationship. Thus, i t i s possible that the matchseller, once given a name and a new 'role' by Flora, i s no longer a stranger, but a lover, and thus i t i s that James can play at being the stranger (can even be a stranger to B i l l for a limited amount of time) while the re a l stranger i n h i s l i f e , h i s wife S t e l l a , quietly s i t s at home. Where the strangers of each of the preceding plays have been overtly recognizable (to one degree or another) as a l i e n s , i n The C o l l e c t i o n t h i s i s not so. With S t e l l a , Pinter introduces the p o s s i b i l i t y that those whom we consider to be 'known' may become or be revealed as strangers. Beginning with The Caretaker and reaching r e a l i z a t i o n with The Col l e c t i o n , Pinter no longer allows h i s strangers to be recognized by such overt signals as a r r i v a l from external and ominous places. That we are u t t e r l y surrounded by strangers becomes an increasingly prominent thematic thrust as Pinter's work progresses. What i s i t that defines one man as stranger and another as known? By what c r i t e r i a do we claim to know one another? How i s i t that a man once known can again become a stranger? These are the questions to which Pinter turns h i s attention i n The C o l l e c t i o n and the following plays. Pinter's next play, The Lover, i s one of the most positive and t r u l y comic of a l l h i s works. Once again, the play i s structured around the stranger; i n t h i s case, the fantasy stranger. The play i s centered around the needs of Sarah and Richard to re-invent each other as lovers i n order to maintain t h e i r sexual excitment. I t i s not love or sex outside t h e i r own relationship which Sarah and Richard crave, but a very p a r t i c u l a r fantasy -stranger sex. The central focus i s not, as i t f i r s t seems, the lover, but the stranger. That Pinter chooses t h i s of a l l possible fantasies for Richard and Sarah illuminates his fascination with the stranger, perhaps even more poignantly than those plays i n which ' r e a l 1 strangers appear. I f the task at hand i s to compose a light-hearted sex comedy, the variety of fantasies from which to choose i s enormous. However, Pinter again centers upon the stranger, revealing conscious or sub-conscious obsession. I f there are no strangers, we simply have to invent them, and so Richard, Sarah and Mr. Pinter do. As usual, Pinter's point of attack i s immediate. He composes a b r i e f mime which we instantly recognize as the f a m i l i a r morning routine of the happy domestic couple. This image i s d e l i g h t f u l l y topped with Richard's amiable opening remark: RICHARD, (amiably). Is your lover coming today? 6 The exceedingly pleasant, witty dialogue which follows i s c l e a r l y designed for the s e l f - t i t i l l a t i o n of Richard and Sarah as well as that of the audience. By the time of Richard's departure, we are desperate that he leave, allowing the lover to a r r i v e . Pinter once again employs the t a c t i c of creating an expectation which he proceeds to disappoint rather than to f u l f i l l . The scene fades up not on the promised afternoon of debauchery, but on the husband's return from the o f f i c e . Pinter does not completely disappoint us, however; during the coquettish dialogue which follows 6. Pinter, p. 161. 65 . we discover that not only does Sarah have a lover, but Richard keeps a whore. Pinter-continues to tan t a l i z e with the promise of a lover, using Sarah's preparation (she changes into a sleek black dress and high-heeled shoes) as a suspense-building device. As the clock chimes three, and both Sarah and the audience impatiently await the a r r i v a l of the lover, Pinter coyly delivers not the lover, but the milk. The milkman, c l a s s i c a l l y fantasized as the lover of housewives everywhere, i s suitably persistent about h i s sales, p a r t i c u l a r l y of cream, emphasizing that some lovely lady down the way has just had three j a r s . The nuances are enough to momentarily raise our hopes that the lover has at la s t arrived, but we are again disappointed and the milkman i s sent away. Each of these t a c t i c s , Sarah's change of dress, the a r r i v a l of the milkman, and the dialogue about her lover and h i s whore, serve (a) to bu i l d suspense for the a r r i v a l and (b) to create an expectation which Pinter w i l l shatter. There i s another knock on the door and at la s t the lover a r r i v e s . But the lover i s the husband. But the lover must not be the husband, he must not admit to any part of the husband. He must perform, above and beyond a l l else, as a stranger. Sarah c a l l s him Max. Richard and Sarah embark upon a variety of scenarios i n which they are strangers and which function as sexual foreplay. The games are c l e a r l y of long standing; they switch from role to role with the expertise of actors well trained i n the recognition of improvisation signals. I t soon becomes apparent that i t i s not Max with whom Sarah seeks afternoon pleasure, but any stranger. The name i s employed, not for the purposes of i d e n t i t y , but for the purposes of a n t i - i d e n t i t y : that i s , not-Richard. Richard plays a series of strangers who seek sexual pleasure with Dolores, Mary, or, i n other words, not-Sarah. Today's games introduce an unaccustomed stress as Max begins to question the continuing accommodation of his lover's husband. His rather ludicrous i n q u i r i e s are an immense disturbance to Sarah, who accuses him of "doing your best to ruin the whole afternoon." 7 Despite her annoyance, non-Richard p e r s i s t s and announces that he has played h i s l a s t game. The scene changes and Richard (the husband) re-appears wearing h i s 'sober s u i t ' to a Sarah who wears a 'sober dress'. He b l i t h e l y announces h i s decision that Sarah's afternoons must end. RICHARD...In the t r a f f i c jam on the bridge just now, you see, I came to a decision. Pause SARAH. Oh? What? RICHARD. That i t has to stop. 7. Pin t e r , p. 182. SARAH. What? RICHARD. Your debauchery. Pause. Your l i f e of depravity, your path of i l l e g i t i m a t e l u s t . SARAH. Really? RICHARD. Yes, I've come to an irrevocable decision on that point. To Sarah, who openly recognizes both roles, Richard's insistence, h i s entire approach to the ra d i c a l a l t e r a t i o n he orders, i s a source of great confusion and f r u s t r a t i o n . Though she l i t e r a l l y begs him to desist, he w i l l not. Richard persists u n t i l Sarah, i n a burst of angry desperation, turns on him. SARAH. You stupid...! (She looks at him cooly.) Do you think he's the only one who comes! Do you? Do you think he's the only one I entertain? Mmmmnn? Don't be s i l l y . I have other v i s i t o r s , other v i s i t o r s , a l l the time, I receive a l l the time. Other afternoons, a l l the time. When neither of you know, neither of you. I give them strawberries i n season. With cream. Strangers, t o t a l strangers. Through Sarah, Pinter explores a new angle on relationships between strangers and ourselves. Sarah 8. Pin t e r , p. 189. 9. Pinter, p. 193. 68 . cannot face l i f e with Richard without the stranger. What t e r r i f i e s her i s not the stranger, but the idea of the dreariness of a l i f e i n which there are none. The b a t t l e of needs which follows her outburst i s a complex merging of the roles of husband and lover i n which i t i s re-emphasized that the stranger i s the only lover to whom Sarah w i l l respond. Richard t r i e s to break out of t h i s r o l e , but Sarah w i l l not allow i t . Try though Richard w i l l , he cannot win without reverting to the role of the stranger. RICHARD. Got a l i g h t ? Pause Got a l i g h t ? She retreats towards the table eventually ending behind i t . Come on, don't be a spoilsport. Your husband won't mind, i f you give me a l i g h t . You look a l i t t l e pale. Why are you so pale? A lovely g i r l l i k e you SARAH. Don't, don't say that! RICHARD. You're trapped. We're alone, I've locked up. SARAH. You mustn't do t h i s , you mustn't do i t , you mustn't! RICHARD. He won't mind. He begins to move slowly closer to the table. No one else knows. Pause. No one else can hear us. No one knows we're here. Pause. Come on. Give us a l i g h t . . 69 Pause. You can't get out, d a r l i n g . You're trapped. They face each other from opposite ends of the table. She\suddently giggles. Silence SARAH. I'm trapped. 1 0 P i n t e r combines the roles of stranger and f a m i l i a r i n one body. He has implied throughout his work, and most c l e a r l y i n t h i s play, that these two roles (though at f i r s t apparently dichotomous) exis t simultaneously i n a l l of us. The stranger (or role of the stranger) continues to function as i t has i n the other plays: to s t a r t l e , to threaten, to reveal. Most important, i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r play, the role of stranger provides an opportunity for Richard and Sarah to express t h e i r repressed selves. In t h e i r games of stranger sex, Richard and Sarah can participate i n the debauchery which t h e i r other selves ( t h e i r elegant, sober selves) cannot enjoy. The Homecoming i s a culmination of Pinter's work to t h i s point. Techniques, characters, themes, and structure mature simultaneously i n t h i s t i g h t l y woven, complex play. The play i s a dexterous commingling of violence, humour, sexuality, philosophy and pathos. The s i t u a t i o n , the development of events and t h e i r f i n a l outcome i s u t t e r l y chimerical, yet, at the same instant, f u l l y 10. P i n t e r , pp. 193-195. 70 r e a l i s t i c , even believable. Pinter's use of the stranger as a device, by now f i n e l y honed and d i s c i p l i n e d , i s again the focal point of the structure of t h i s highly sophisticated domestic drama. The prototypes, Rose and Bert, are once again present. Max i s the obvious Bert, impotent, brutal and i n f a n t i l e ; he i s revealed never to have overcome the domination of h i s deceased whore-wife, Jessie. The presence of the whore-mother role i s somewhat more complexly handled. In the f i r s t part of the play (before Ruth's a r r i v a l ) , t h i s role i s foisted alternately upon Max and Sam. Ruth i n the end accepts t h i s r o l e , thus restoring balance (such as i t i s ) to the family. Ruth i s a staggeringly complex character; a composite of Rose, Flora, S t e l l a and Sarah, she dominates a l l f i v e men of the play. Ruth also performs the dramatic function of the Riley prototypes. The irony of the play's t i t l e , which at f i r s t apparently relates to Teddy and i s only l a t e r revealed as a reference to Ruth, i s i n d i c a t i v e of the tone of the whole. Everything about the play i s topsy-turvy. That which we might expect i s consistently incorrect. Pinter lays the foundation for the play's delicate and complex reversal, establishing the family as a strong, exclusive t r i b a l u n i t . The family unit, so often a core i n Pinter's plays, i s more c l e a r l y delineated and heavily emphasized i n The Homecoming than i n any of h i s previous works. Max i s the longest l i v i n g member of the t r i b e and has saturated i t with h i s fears, prejudices and perversions. Family i s everything to Max and he never l e t s anyone forget how much he has s a c r i f i c e d for t h e i r sake. MAX. (...) I worked as a butcher a l l my l i f e , using the chopper and the slab, the slab, you know what I mean, the chopper and the slab! To keep my family i n luxury. Two families! My mother was bedridden, my brothers were a l l i n v a l i d s . . . He even goes so far as to claim to have borne the children. MAX. (...) don't t a l k to me about the pain of c h i l d b i r t h — I suffered the ~ pain, I've s t i l l got the pangs — ... The family w i l l , as long as Max has an ounce of energy l e f t , repay Max for his s a c r i f i c e s . The family, however, i s complicated by the f r u s t r a t i o n of incompletion; i t desperately lacks a female presence. This f r u s t r a t i o n i s a focal point of the family's action, i n which the men continually attempt to take the female role upon themselves, or to force i t upon one another. 11. P i n t e r , The Homecoming (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1965), p. 47. 12. P i n t e r , p. 47. 72 . MAX. Who do you think I am, your mother? Eh? Honest. They walk i n here every time of the day and night l i k e bloody animals. Go and f i n d yourself a mother. MAX. (To Sam)1What do you want, you bitch? The family's propensity to r a i l at i t s e l f leads to the use of a f u l l range of i n s u l t s from 'bugger, 'bastard' and 'stupid sod' to 'maggot' and 'paralyzed prat', but the most frequently repeated terms of derision are those of ' s l u t ' , 'bitch' and ' t i t ' . The language of a l l the men i s riddled with female derogatory terms as they seek to force each other to compensate for the missing but hated female. The physical setting of the play amplifies the s i t u a t i o n of the family: the absence of a female figure has l i t e r a l l y l e f t a hole i n the w a l l . As P i n t e r enlarges h i s concern from a single character to a family, he enlarges the location of the action from a room to a house. Regardless of the level of desperation, the family's e x c l u s i v i t y would never allow them to look outside the realm of the t r i b e for a solution. 13. P i n t e r , p. 16. 14. Pinter, p. 16. 73 . MAX. When you f i n d the r i g h t g i r l , Sam, l e t your family know, don't forget we'll give you a number one send-off, I promise you. You can bring her to l i v e here, she can keep us a l l happy. We'd take i t i n turns to give her a walk around the park. 1 5 MAX. I've been begging my two youngsters for years to find a nice feminine g i r l with proper credentials — i t makes l i f e worth l i v i n g . The family i s i n c l u s i v e and exclusive. A l l needs must be f u l f i l l e d w i t h i n i t s framework. I t i s unthinkable that any outsider should be allowed to enter i t s domain. The ever-raging c o n f l i c t between inside and outside, insiders and outsiders, i s once again of major importance. That the eventual solution comes from the stranger i s Pinter's irony. After having c l e a r l y established t h i s family, i t s e x c l u s i v i t y , and i t s need, Pinter introduces two new and unexpected presences — Teddy and Ruth. A r r i v a l s , possibly one of the single most important a c t i v i t i e s i n drama per se, have been given immense attention by P i n t e r . Though the a r r i v a l s of h i s strangers have generally been quite subdued, t h i s had not detracted from t h e i r 15. Pinter, p. 15. 16. Pinter, p. 49. 74 dramatic impact. Pinter has given us plays which have been based upon expectation of a r r i v a l , shock a r r i v a l s , f a l s e a r r i v a l s , and disguised a r r i v a l s . In The Hcmecoming, the entire f i r s t act i s consumed with a r r i v a l s . Ruth and Teddy's a r r i v a l dominates t h i s act, not only i n terms of importance and power, but also i n terms of stage action and stage time. Ruth and Teddy a r r i v e four separate times, each with a separate purpose. The f i r s t of these i s a quiet, almost secretive a r r i v a l to the empty l i v i n g room - the family sleeps upstairs. Teddy i s immediately i d e n t i f i e d with the family and the home. TEDDY. Well, the key worked. Pause. ^ They haven't changed the lock. • • • TEDDY. JoWas born here, do you r e a l i z e that? 8 This a r r i v a l , unheralded by l e t t e r , cable, phone c a l l or even doorbell, and taking place i n the dead of night, i s quietly spooky. Ruth i s at f i r s t a trepidacious stranger. Though she asks to s i t down, and though Teddy i n v i t e s her to do so ( i r o n i c a l l y pointing out h i s father's c h a i r ) , Ruth does not s i t but remains s t i l l and quiet. I t i s only when she i s l e f t alone that Ruth moves into the room and 17. Pi n t e r , pp. 19-20. 18. Pinter, p. 22. s i t s . Teddy returns from checking out h i s old room i n a boyish, nostalgic mood. Ruth unexpectedly intrudes on his nostalgia asking: 19 "Do you want to stay"? Like Max, Ruth i s an i n t u i t i v e animal and senses something about t h i s room which beckons so strongly that she must deny i t immediately or not at a l l . As Teddy wants to stay, Ruth takes over the keys and, from that moment, t h i s home becomes more Ruth's than i t was ever Teddy's. She e x i t s into the night streets of London, her old stomping grounds, and Pinter emphasizes that Ruth has indeed come home. The second i n t h i s series of a r r i v a l s new occurs; a l l the aspects of homecoming, however, are absent. Lenny, up pacing on a sleepless night, walks into the l i v i n g room to find a brother who has been absent for s i x years standing there. They converse as i f they had had tea together that afternoon. TEDDY. Hullo, Lenny. LENNY. Hullo, Teddy. Pause. TEDDY. I didn't hear you come down the s t a i r s . LENNY. I didn't. Pause. I sleep down here now. Next door. I've got a kind of study, workroom cum bedroom next door now, you see. 19. Pi n t e r , p. 22. 76 TEDDY. Oh. Did I ... wake you? LENNY. No. I j u s t had an early night tonight. You know howgit i s . Can't sleep. Keep waking up. The scene i s exquisitely cool. Lenny by no means refuses to welcome Teddy; there i s simply no recognition of the fact that Teddy has been away for s i x years. Lenny's casual insouciance functions as another signal that t h i s i s not Teddy's homecoming. The t h i r d a r r i v a l i s the meeting of Lenny and Ruth. A meeting i n which Lenny attempts to affect s i m i l a r t a c t i c s of indifference. The i n i t i a l casualness of t h e i r meeting quickly dissipates, however, as t h i s stranger coolly corrects or contradicts almost everything Lenny says. Lenny's next approach i s to appeal to Ruth for advice. He reveals a sense of disturbance t over something which he cannot i d e n t i f y — a t i c k i n the night. Lenny also has i n t u i t i v e a b i l i t i e s and has been woken up by something he cannot i d e n t i f y as Ruth arrives at the house. Having been unable to arouse sympathy or advice, Lenny continues to reveal himself to Ruth. He senses danger and attempts to gain power with s t o r i e s of dominance and physical abuse towards women. Ruth remains u t t e r l y unimpressed and, once again, i t i s the inside character who becomes confused and reveals himself. 20. Pi n t e r , p. 25. Where we might reasonably expect any woman to be frightened and repulsed by Lenny's sto r i e s of women bashing, Ruth calmly l i s t e n s and proceeds to c a l l Lenny's sexual b l u f f . RUTH. If you take the glass ... I ' l l take you. RUTH. Have a sip . Go on. Have a sip from my glass. He i s s t i l l . S i t on my lap. Take a long cool s i p . She pats her lap. Pause. She stands, moves to him with her glass. Put your head back and open your mouth. 2 1 Their b a t t l e for status and power ends i n the t o t a l routing of Lenny, whom Ruth casually c a l l s Leonard. A name which only h i s mother c a l l s him, a name which reduces him to a c h i l d . Ruth walks out on the conquered Lenny, who can only question: LENNY. What are you doing, making me some kind of proposal? She laughs shortly, drains the glass. RUTH. Oh, I was t h i r s t y . She smiles at him, puts the glass down, goes into the h a l l and up the s t a i r s . He follows into the h a l l and shouts up the s t a i r s . LENNY. What was that supposed to be? Some kind of proposal? 21. Pi n t e r , p. 34. 22. Pinter, p. 34-35. 78 . Lenny, who i s accustomed to dominating, finds that none of h i s t a c t i c s of intimidation have worked against Ruth. I t i s Ruth who intimidates and mystifies. She dominates now and w i l l dominate i n t h e i r future r e l a t i o n s . Having l o s t h i s b a t t l e with Ruth, Lenny attempts to reinforce his power i n the family by withholding the information of Ruth and Teddy's a r r i v a l from Max. He d i s t r a c t s Max's attention from the question at hand by posing the forbidden question: LENNY. I ' l l t e l l you what, Dad, since you're i n the mood for a b i t of ...chat, I ' l l ask you a question. I t ' s a question I've been meaning to ask you for seme time. That night...you know...the night you got me...that night with Mum, what was i t l i k e ? Eh? When I was just a g l i n t i n your eye. What was i t l i k e ? What was the background to i t ? I mean, I want to know the rea l f a c t s about my background. I mean, for instance, i s i t a fact that you had me i n mind a l l the time, or i s i t a fact that I was the l a s t thing you had i n mind. 3 Only a f t e r Ruth and Teddy have spent the night i n the house does t h e i r real homecoming occur. Despite the fact that they have already arrived three times, morning finds them descending the s t a i r s to a father, a brother, and an uncle, a l l of whom are unaware of t h e i r presence. TEDDY smiles. 23. P i n t e r , p. 36. 79 TEDDY. Hullo...Dad...We overslept. Pause. What's for breakfast? Silence. TEDDY chuckles. Huh, we overslept. MAX turns to SAM. MAX. Did you know he was here? SAM. No. MAX turns to JOEY. MAX. Did you know he was here? Pause. I asked you i f you knew he was here. JOEY. No. MAX. Then who knew? Pause. Who knew? Pause. I didn't know. TEDDY. I was going to come down, Dad, I was going to...be here, when you came down. Pause. How are you? Pause. Uh...look, I'd...like you to meet... MAX. How long have you been i n t h i s house? TEDDY. A l l night. MAX. A l l night? I'm a laughing-stock. How did you get in? TEDDY. I had my key. 2 4 The new king ( i n t h i s case queen) cycle i s c l e a r l y evidenced i n t h i s exchange. Max's point of concern at t h i s instant i s not that they are i n the house, but 'who knew?'. Max must assume, u n t i l Teddy's revelation of his key, that someone else has admitted Teddy and the whore. This i s a direct threat to Max's control, an insinuation of usurpation. His inevitable usurpation does not come from within but 24. P i n t e r , pp. 40-41. 80 . without the house and i t i s the usurper to whom Max next turns his attention. MAX. Who's th i s ? TEDDY. I was just going to introduce you. MAX. Who asked you to bring t a r t s i n here? TEDDY. Tarts? MAX. Who asked you to bring d i r t y t a r t s into t h i s house? TEDDY. Li s t e n , don't be s i l l y — MAX. You been here a l l night? TEDDY. Yes, we arrived from Venice. MAX. We've had a smelly scrubber i n my house a l l night. We've had a stinking pox-ridden s l u t i n my house a l l night. TEDDY. Stop i t ! What are you talki n g about? MAX. I haven't seen the b i t c h for s i x years, he comes home without a word, he brings a f i l t h y scrubber o f f the street, he shacks up i n my house! TEDDY. She's my wife! We're married! Pause. MAX. I've never had a whore under t h i s roof before. Ever since your mother died. My word of honour. (To JOEY) Have you ever had a whore here? Has Lenny ever had a whore here? They come back from America they bring the slopbucket with them. They bring the bedpan with them. (To TEDDY.) Take that disease away from me. Get her away from me. TEDDY. She's my wife. MAX. (to JOEY). Chuck them o u t . 2 5 Max's reaction to the intrusion i s an immediate and vio l e n t attempt to protect h i s position i n the home. Meagre though Max's power may be, he recognizes that the presence of t h i s woman w i l l s t r i p him even of that. 25. Pi n t e r , pp. 41-42. Max's offensive tirade erupting on the apparently demure Ruth v e r i f i e s the talent he claims for knowing a good f i l l y . What at f i r s t seem u n j u s t i f i a b l e maledictions are i n the long run not so fa r wrong; Max does recognize a ' f l i t h y scrubber off the street' when he sees one. Max's i n s t i n c t and his experience warn him of t h i s stranger who w i l l i n the end, l i k e J e s s i e , dominate him and h i s home. Joey refuses Max's command to 'chuck them out', responding, "You're an old man. (To Teddy). He's an old man." Max i s reduced to the use of hi s f i s t s and h i s s t i c k , leaving a l l three men, Joey, Sam and himself on the f l o o r . Joey and Sam, i n refusing to a l l y themselves with Max, a s s i s t i n the acceptance of Ruth. Shunned by the family, Max has no recourse but to acknowledge her. MAX. You a mother? RUTH. Yes. MAX. How many you got? RUTH. Three. He turns to TEDDY. MAX. A l l yours Ted? Pause. You want to k i s s your old father? Want a cuddle with your old father? TEDDY. Come on then. TEDDY moves a step towards him. Come on. Pause. 26. Pinter, p. 42. 82 . MAX. You s t i l l love your old Dad, eh? They face each other. TEDDY. Ccme on, Dad, I'm ready for the cuddle. MAX begins to chuckle, gurgling. He turns to the family and addresses them. MAX. He s t i l ^ l o v e s h i s father! Curtain Teddy and h i s whore have arrived. In the f i r s t act, we see the intrusion of the stranger; i n the second, her elevation to the role of new queen. This process begins inconspicuously with what seems an innocent remark. MAX. I've got the feeling you're a f i r s t - r a t e cook. RUTH. I'm not bad. MAX. No. I've got the feeling you're a number one cook. Am I r i g h t , Teddy? TEDDY. Yes, she's a very good c o o k . 8 Much l i k e R i ley, the matchseller and S t e l l a , Ruth needs to exert l i t t l e to no e f f o r t i n order to gain control. She f u l l y comprehends her d e s i r a b i l i t y to these men and uses t h i s d e s i r a b i l i t y i n a calm, calculating manner. 27. Pinter, pp. 43-44. 28. Pinter, p. 45. 83 She alternately plays the roles of demure wife, mother, homemaker, and sex object. She teases the men with promises of each of these feminine capacities, but v e r i f i e s none of them. The dichotomy between the s t e r i l e , i n t e l l e c t u a l , Teddy, and the sensual animal, Ruth, i s stimulated by the return to t h i s house. Ruth begins to become a stranger to Teddy long before she makes a stranger of him. Their estrangement begins as soon as they a r r i v e , when Teddy wants to stay, Ruth wants to leave; as Ruth becomes more and more comfortable with the family, Teddy becomes increasingly uncomfortable and desirous to leave. Teddy i s embarrassed by his boorish family and finds h i s home reminds him of a 1 f i l t h y u r i n a l 1 . The u r i n a l i t seems i s quite acceptable to Ruth. She i s completely f a m i l i a r and comfortable with t h i s p a r t i c u l a r area of London, having previously l i v e d only a few blocks away. While Teddy loathes the f i l t h of these streets, she loathes the s t e r i l i t y and barrenness of America. Teddy begs Ruth to return with him, offering the children, swimming pools, campus l i f e , and t r i p s to Venice as b a i t . Ruth re p l i e s with a bizarre sense of logic which p a r a l l e l s Lenny's way of thinking. TEDDY. You li k e d Venice, didn't you? I t was lovely, wasn't i t ? You had a good week. I mean...I took you there. I can speak I t a l i a n . 84 RUTH. But i f I'd been a nurse i n the I t a l i a n campaign, I would have been there before. The untenable morality and behavior of t h i s family finds i t s match, i n fa c t , i s excelled, by that of Ruth. Ruth i s by no means the demure professorial wife Teddy would l i k e to have brought home, but an i n t e l l i g e n t and experienced whore. Throughout the second act, the men j o s t l e for ba t t l e stances from which they w i l l f i g h t over her. There w i l l be no b a t t l e , however; Ruth's decisions are already made. Ruth i s offered and accepts the challenge to be a l l things to a l l men. She becomes t h e i r queen bee, performing the two major h i s t o r i c a l roles of a l l womankind - mother and whore. Ruth's take-over of the family i s not complete u n t i l Teddy too has undergone reversal. The play's close neatly antithesizes i t s opening. Ruth, the stranger, i s accepted as k i t h and k i n , while Teddy, the blood-relation, i s expelled as the stranger. And i t i s the new queen bee who f i n a l i z e s Teddy's expulsion, c l a r i f y i n g h is new position with suggestive foresight. 29. P i nter, p. 55. 85 RUTH. Eddie TEDDY turns. Pause. Don't become a stranger. TEDDY goes, shuts the front door. 3 0 The underlying b r u t a l i t y of Ruth and her i n t u i t i v e kinship with t h i s dreadful family i s f u l l y r e a l i z e d . Ruth i s t r u l y at home s i t t i n g "relaxed i n her chair" with Max, Lenny, and Joey surrounding her. With The Homecoming, Pinter stretches the characters of whore-mother, impotent, brutal male and stranger to t h e i r furthest extremities; overlapping, interweaving and transforming these characters and t h e i r accompanying functions i n the drama. In The  Caretaker, Pinter complicates the role of the stranger by s p l i t t i n g i t between Davies and Mick: i n The Co l l e c t i o n , he brings the stranger into the immediate family c i r c l e ; i n The Lover, he allows the roles of stranger and fam i l i a r to inhabit the same body and experiments with the merging of these roles; i n The Homecoming, with the characters Teddy and Ruth, Pinter incorporates a l l of these experiments. Not only does the role of stranger transfer from Ruth 30. P i n t e r , p. 80. 31. Pinter, P. 80. 86 . to Teddy, but the stranger, Ruth, usurps power, taking over the household and expelling the new stranger. That Teddy must be expelled indicates a primitive t r i b a l need of the family for a stranger of some kind. The group i s defined as much by what or whom they exclude as by what or whom they include. The concept of the stranger who transforms the l i v e s of others, himself, the room to which he arrives, has surely reached f u l l blossom i n The Homecoming. For where, af t e r the complexities expressed here, can Pinter possibly go? IV Estrangement Aft e r a silence of three years, PINTER wrote two very d i f f e r e n t l y structured plays - Landscape and Silence. Their difference l i e s not i n theme but i n s t y l e . These two plays overtly ignore a l l the basic p r i n c i p l e s of stage action, exposition, development, character interaction, climax and denouement. This i s not to say that these plays do not contain the above, i n one form or another, but that Pinter has v i r t u a l l y re-structured the f a m i l i a r forms i n which we observe these c r u c i a l elements of drama. Pinter begins a new phase of writing with these mature, compassionate and poetic plays. Through the format i s highly structured and apparently a n t i - r e a l i s t i c , i n these plays the characters oddly become more r e a l . Despite the lack of dramatic realism, Landscape and Silence more accurately r e f l e c t certain recurring q u a l i t i e s of the experience of l i v i n g than the e a r l i e r plays. Having always presented the bizarre i n l i f e , characters who are black and b l i n d , s i l e n t and shapeless, mental incompetents who c o l l e c t things and people i n need of repair, and families who engage the i r s i s t e r - i n - law as l i v e - i n whore, Pinter makes an unexpected foray into the u t t e r l y ordinary. No longer do strangers lurk i n basements, waiting to deliver messages, or arrive at seaside houses, leaving with one of the tenants as t h e i r baggage. In these plays, the a l i e n i s he who i s most intimate and apparently most well-known. 88 With Landscape and Silence, the concept of the stranger reaches i t s most t e r r i f y i n g as i t becomes a full-bodied theme: that of estrangement i t s e l f . Pinter's strangers, who have gradually moved closer and closer to the family unit, no longer come from the outside at a l l ; Pinter confronts us with the r e a l i t y that we l i v e with strangers, estranged from one another, perhaps even from ourselves. Estrangement, a much more introspective treatment of the whole concept of stranger, i s a theme of maturity, e n t a i l i n g the d i s i l l u s i o n s , the sorrows, the helplessness of men and women i n relationship with one another. Both Beth and Duff cry out with a need to be f u l f i l l e d , yet each are so involved i n t h e i r private worlds that they cannot reach one another. The play's metaphors, equalling the maturity of t h e i r theme, are greatly s i m p l i f i e d from the days of birthday parties and beating drums. Pinter now turns to the s i m p l i c i t y and permanency of nature. And here, h i s expression of loneliness, due to estrangement, i s pa i n f u l l y exacting. What i s most t e r r i f y i n g about the loneliness which Pinter presents i s that i t i s not the resu l t of physical seclusion or i s o l a t i o n . Pinter's subject here i s peopled loneliness. Beth, i n love only with her memory of a man on the beach, i s u t t e r l y estranged from the present Duff. Though Pinter i n a l e t t e r to the director of Landscape's f i r s t production i d e n t i f i e s 89 the man on the beach as Duff, 1 we cannot ascertain that i d e n t i t y from the play alone. The audience i s suitably placed i n the same mind space as Beth, who no longer connects the man on the beach and the v i o l e n t Duff who wants to bang her on the f l o o r . So great i s th e i r estrangement that Beth simply does not recognize Duff i n h i s present form. Though Duff t r i e s to break through, to speak to her, i t i s impossible. Beth denies Duff any present existence. Like Rose, Beth barricades herself i n , seeking her security i n i s o l a t i o n ; unlike Rose, walls are no longer necessary. Beth excludes Duff, makes herself a stranger to him, simply with her mind. Pinter's sorry insinuation i s that i t i s not walls, but our very natures, which cause our i s o l a t i o n . In Landscape, Pinter pursues the idea that locale i s a matter of mental state. The location i n which one's body resides i s temporal and unimportant: what i s of importance i s the imaginative space i n which one's psyche resides. The stage setting of t h i s play has no pertinence for i t s characters; they reside i n landscapes of th e i r imagination. The fact that the s c r i p t c a l l s for a set design at a l l i s only the residue of a th e a t r i c a l t r a d i t i o n which Pin t e r does not f u l l y shed u n t i l Silence. 1. Martin E s s l i n , The Peopled Wound: The World of Harold Pinter (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., Anchor Books, 1970), p. 192. 90 With Silence, Pinter explodes the room once and for a l l . He actualizes h i s long standing contention that walls are merely the product of our imaginations. We are reminded of Len i n The Dwarfs. The rooms we l i v e i n ... open and shut. Can't you see? They change shape at t h e i r own w i l l . 2 In both Landscape and Silence, Pinter transcends the barriers of time and space as we normally perceive them. In these plays, Pinter merges a l l time, a l l space into one. The idea i s not unique: to have managed to express i t on stage i s quite a di f f e r e n t matter. This theme of estrangement becomes more frightening i n the perspective of the simultaneity of a l l time and space, for such a concept precludes the fantasy that the si t u a t i o n could change. Landscape at least o f f e r s remembered happiness. Beth and Duff each have a moment i n t h e i r l i v e s to which they can c l i n g . Rumsey, El l e n , and Bates are i n a constant state of anxiety, searching for a time, or a place, or a person, with whom they can be whole. Their loneliness, the constant alienation they a l l suffer, i s recognized by Rumsey. 2. Harold Pi n t e r , PLAYS:TWO, The Caretaker, The Co l l e c t i o n  The Lover, Night School,"The Dwarfs (London: Cox & Wyman Ltd., 1977), p. 99. Sometimes I see people. They walk towards me, no, not so, walk i n my di r e c t i o n , but never reaching me turning l e f t , or disappearing, and then reappearing, to disappear into the wood. So many ways to lose sight of them, then to recapture sight of them. They are sharp at f i r s t sight...then smudged...then lost...then glimpsed again...then gone.3 Pinter presents a t e r r i f y i n g v i s i o n of the human condition. The insinuation i s that no one ever reaches anyone else: that we only t a n t a l i z e each other with that p o s s i b i l i t y ; that we are never anything but alone. In these two plays there are no strangers of the kind we have observed from The Room through to The Homecoming. There i s , instead, nothing but strangers. Pinter seems to imply that estrangement from one another i s not a p o s s i b i l i t y but a fact, an inescapable, inevitable r e a l i t y of l i f e . 3. Harold P i n t e r , Landscape and Silence (London: Eyre Methuen Ltd., 1969), p. 40. V Stranger as Revenant With Old Times, Pinter returns to a more t r a d i t i o n a l playwriting s t y l e , providing a stage space which resembles a room, providing story, exposition, development, climax, etc. Pinter incorporates the conceptual leaps Landscape and Silence make i n perception of time and space. Just as i n retrospect A S l i g h t Ache, The C o l l e c t i o n and The Lover seem to have been exercise plays, valuable on t h e i r own, but most valuable as experiments which lead to The Homecoming, so Landscape and Silence i n retrospect seem to be stepping stones to Old Times. The location of Old Times i s c l e a r l y shown to ex i s t only i n the imagination; there are no longer any walls, any rooms. Rooms, walls, distance i n time, space, and especially memories, are a l l products of our imaginations. This dissolution of physical b a r r i e r s i s t h e a t r i c a l l y realized by the presence of Anna, who i s on stage throughout. Anna i s forever present, there i s no longer the p o s s i b i l i t y of a r r i v a l or departure. Anna simply i s . A r r i v a l and departure e x i s t only i n terms of acceptance or rej e c t i o n , i n t h i s case, the acceptance or rejection by Kate. Once again, Pinter employs an intimate stranger as the focal point of h i s drama. Though Anna has shared the intimacies of Kate's room, her friends, gestures, interests, even her underwear and by implication her bed, Kate cannot, or w i l l not, r e c a l l the color of Anna's ha i r , her s i z e , or whether or not she i s a vegetarian. At t h i s point i n the play, the audience i s forced to consider Anna a stranger. Deeley claims not to know her, Kate not to remember her. The early action, as i n previous Pinter formulae, centers around the expected a r r i v a l of t h i s friend-stranger. Anna, l i k e R i ley, Goldberg/McCann, and Ruth/Teddy, i s a l i n k to the past. She stimulates an evening of memory and nostalgia i n which Kate and Deely's pasts (as they r e c a l l them) are revealed. The memory lane down which Anna drags Deeley and Kate provides Pinter with the opportunity to delve into the thinking of h i s characters more deeply than ever before. Through the comparing and contrasting of memories, we are allowed glimpses into not only what but how each of the characters think. The r e c o l l e c t i o n of the same incidents by each of them sheds l i g h t not on the incidents but on themselves. What actually happened i s singularly unimportant. Our past can only be that which we r e c a l l i t to be, and as such i s subject to our desires and moods. ANNA. There are some things one remembers even though they may not have happened. There are things to remember which may never have happened but as I r e c a l l them so they take place. DEELEY. What? 4 I t i s t h i s mercurical capacity of memory i n which Annna invests her hopes. Anna's method of reaching Kate i s to r e c a l l happy memories of a shared youth (real or imagined). She hopes that such 4. Harold Pi n t e r , Old Times, (New York: Grove Press Inc., 1971), pp. 31-32. recollections w i l l revive t h e i r friendship and that she w i l l thus regain a place i n Kate's heart. The play becomes a matter of who can make whom believe whose memories. For Deeley, Anna i s a very dangerous intruder, as Kate indulges i n a kind of callous e x c l u s i v i t y which never includes more than one friend at a time. DEELEY. Did you think of her as your best friend? KATE. She was my only friend. DEELEY. Your best and only. KATE. My one and only. 5 This e x c l u s i v i t y i s apparently so appealing that the very i d e n t i t i e s of Deeley and Anna are dependent on being included. In the ba t t l e to win Kate, both Anna and Deeley claim to have seen Odd Man Out with her. Deeley boldly claims that i t brought them together, that, i n fact, Robert Newton (a complete stranger) brought them together, and that only Robert Newton could tear them apart - an i l l u s i o n which w i l l be destroyed before the evening i s out. As the stor i e s of t h e i r bohemian pasts i n London are t o l d , not only memories, but the characters themselves begin to overlap and interweave, eventually becoming indistinguishable. Anna, at f i r s t seen only as Anna, becomes Anna playing Kate, becomes Kate, becomes Deeley. 5. Pinter, p. 9. 95 DEELEY. On the way to the party I took her into a cafe, bought her a cup of coffee, beards with faces. She thought she was you, said l i t t l e , so l i t t l e . Maybe she was you. Maybe i t was you, having coffee with me, saying l i t t l e , so l i t t l e . 6 Anna, previously expelled for unknown reasons, metaphorically k i l l e d by Kate, was replaced by Deeley, who took over her bed. Anna i s not the only recipient of Kate's metaphorical k i l l i n g s . Kate describes having done the same one day to Deeley. The only difference between these events was that where Anna did not r e s i s t , Deeley di d , suggesting "a wedding instead, and a change of environment. Sl i g h t pause. Neither mattered." 7 The importance of Odd Man Out i s not how wonderful i t was, who starred i n i t , nor who saw i t with Kate, but that i t t i t l e s a deadly serious game i n which they are presently engaged. The consequence of becoming the odd man out i s the loss of Kate's affection and metaphorical death. What Anna's v i s i t reveals i s that Deeley i s no more important to Kate than Anna. No d i f f e r e n t , no more a l i v e . Neither of them can possibly win. Just as Kate metaphorically k i l l e d Anna with the d i r t from her window box, she did the same to Deeley with t h e i r wedding. 6. Pinter, p. 69 7. Pinter, p. 73. KATE. When I brought him into the room your body of course was gone. What a r e l i e f i t was to have a dif f e r e n t body i n my room, a male body behaving quite d i f f e r e n t l y doing a l l those things they do and which they think are good, l i k e s i t t i n g with one leg over the arm of an armchair. We had a choice of two beds. Your bed or my bed. To l i e i n , or on. To grind noses together, i n or on. He l i k e d your bed, and thought he was d i f f e r e n t i n i t because he was a man. But one night I said l e t me do something, a l i t t l e thing, a l i t t l e t r i c k . He lay there i n your bed. He looked up at me with great expectation. He was g r a t i f i e d . He thought I profited from h i s teaching. He thought I was going to be sexually forthcoming, but I was about to take a long promised i n i t i a t i v e . I dug about i n the window box, where you had planted our pretty pansies, scooped, f i l l e d the bowl, and plastered his face with d i r t . He resisted.. .with force. He would not l e t me d i r t y h is face, or smudge i t , he wouldn't l e t me. He suggested a wedding instead, and a change of environment. Slight pause. Neither mattered. Pause. He asked me once, at about that time, who had slept i n that bed before him. I t o l d him no one. No one at a l l . 8 And were someone to ask her now 'who sleeps i n the other bed?', her answer would again be 'No one. No one at a l l . ' Though Anna once again takes over the 'other bed', supposedly winning Kate and expelling Deeley, who now becomes the stranger, i t i s not r e a l l y Anna or Deeley who i s the stranger, but Kate. Neither Anna or Deeley have ever known Kate. She has always been, i s now, and w i l l remain a stranger to them both. 8. Pinter, pp. 72-73. With No Man's Land Pinter incorporates the conceptual and technical advances made i n Landscape, Silence, and Old Times. As with Old Times, Pinter allows the action to ostensibly take place i n Hi r s t ' s sitting-room; i t should be clear, however, that the physical room i s of d r a s t i c a l l y reduced importance. The locales of Pinter's plays make an important progress from single rooms, to houses, to landscapes, to landscapes of the mind, to no man's land; a progression c l e a r l y evidenced i n h i s t i t l e s . The importance of t h i s movement i n the character of the work i s that P i n t e r e f f e c t i v e l y removes the walls behind which we might hide. The whole concept of inside/outside, so fundamental to Pinter's structure, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n regard to the a r r i v a l of strangers, undergoes considerable transformation u n t i l the concept of outside i s recognized as a state of mind, not p h y s i c a l i t y . Pinter removes the p o s s i b i l i t y of closing doors on these persistent intruders who people h i s plays. Regardless of the external location the set designer builds for production purposes, the action of t h i s play must be perceived to occur i n no man's land. No man's land i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y known as that stretch of t e r r i t o r y between two warring factions, belonging to no one, a potential danger to a l l . As i t separates, i t also unites, for i t i s a t e r r i t o r y i n which no man can meet another without daring death. In t h i s i t i s equal to a l l . In t h i s play, Pinter depicts the world as a continuous series of no man's lands and strangers. Each of the four characters relates a no man's land occurrence, i n which they revealed themselves to a stranger and after which t h e i r l i f e has never been quite the same. The action of t h i s play brings H i r s t to the f i n a l no man's land, "which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but which remains forever i c y and si l e n t . " 1 Spooner functions as the stranger i n t h i s no man's land and as a guide to H i r s t i n helping him id e n t i f y and accept i t . Although many of Pinter's strangers guide t h e i r hosts to self - r e v e l a t i o n or to a dr a s t i c change of si t u a t i o n , they rar e l y reveal t h i s intention. Spooner, however, constantly offers h i s services as a friend who w i l l guide H i r s t on a journey. Spooner at f i r s t appears to be a simple stranger: a chance acquaintance on the Heath whom Hir s t has inexplicably invited home. Later, he i s revealed to be an old and rather intimate f r i e n d . Spooner describes himself i n a number of unusual ways (an observer of l i f e , f i x e d , concrete, a relevant witness, a free man), a l l of which emphasize that he somehow stands outside the normal concerns and impotencies of l i f e . Again, t h i s v i t a l l y important concept of inside/outside intrudes. But the idea of what or whom i s inside or outside has taken a metaphysical leap, for what i t seems that Spooner i s outside of i s l i f e i t s e l f . For t h i s reason I c a l l Spooner a revenant, from the French revenir: one who returns after a long absence, especially from the dead, a ghost. 1. Harold P i n t e r , No Man's Land (New York: Grove Press Inc., 1975) p. 95. Whether we perceive Spooner to be returned from the dead, or simply an old Oxford chum turned bum returned after a very long absence, he performs i n the drama as a grim reaper figure who has come to befriend H i r s t i n the 'l a s t lap*. Pinter i s far too clever and elusive either to state that H i r s t i s dying or that Spooner i s h i s archangel of death, but examination of characters, language, and the manner i n which incidents have been arranged strongly imply such an interpretation. The play i s saturated with allusions to death. Weatherby as an old friend i s at f i r s t not recognized at a l l ; once remembered, Hi r s t r e c o l l e c t s him amidst a dinner-party group whom he thinks are a l l dead. HIRST. (...) What a bunch. What a night, as I r e c a l l . A l l dead now, of course. Pinter has Hir s t add that Weatherby hasn't changed a b i t , but looks as f i t now as he did then. Such pleasantries are part of a common mythology we a l l feed one another, and are apt for the meeting of two old friends. One must remember, however, that the interim of which they speak has been almost forty years. As has always been h i s s t y l e , Pinter presents c o n f l i c t i n g information and allows h i s audience to draw t h e i r own conclusions. 2. Pinter, p. 69. 100. H i r s t claims his wife and a l l h is friends have 'gone1, l i v i n g on only i n h i s memory and photo album. H i r s t ' s tenderness towards the faces i n his photo album furthers the inferences woven throughout t h i s play of l i v i n g ghosts. HIRST. I might even show you my photograph album. You might even see a face i n i t which might remind you of your own, of what you once were. You might see faces of others, i n shadow, or cheeks of others, turning, or jaws, or backs of necks, or eyes, dark under hats, which might remind you of others, whom once you knew, whom you thought long dead, but from whom you w i l l s t i l l receive a sidelong glance, i f you can face the good ghost. Allow the love of the good ghost. 3 Characteristic of Pinter's use of nuance, i n the f i r s t scene between H i r s t and Spooner the conversation refers continually but obliquely to death and salvation. H i r s t i s very reticent throughout. I t i s Spooner who discourses on the days of highwaymen, picnic s on the lawn, a shared memory of the bucolic l i f e , the salvation of the English language, the sustenance and preservation of art and v i r t u e , H i r s t ' s wife of hazel hue, and a Hungarian emigre who Spooner met at the very pub they e a r l i e r graced, and who changed Spooner's l i f e . Spooner's remarks prod H i r s t u n t i l , i n a state of staggering drunkenness he throws h i s empty glass ( i n e f f e c t u a l l y ) at Spooner, and f i n a l l y babbles: HIRST. No Pause. No man's land...does not move...or change... or grow old...remains...forever...icy...silent. 4 3. Pinter, p. 79. 4. Pinter, p. 34. I t i s important to note that i t i s not Spooner but Hir s t who f i r s t describes no man's land. Once again, the stranger performs as the catalyst of a message which does not come from an external, but an internal force. No man's land i s not Spooner's idea, but H i r s t ' s . Once again, Pinter's stranger does not require force to catalyze the journey upon which H i r s t embarks. I t i s , once again, the host who resorts to t a c t i c s of violence. Spooner's weapons are h i s serenity, the strength of being fixed, concrete, and h i s knowledge. SPOONER. I have known t h i s before. The e x i t through the door, by way of the b e l l y and f l o o r . 5 The next scene introduces Foster and Briggs who control H i r s t ' s physical world, and further develops Spooner's i d e n t i t y as a revenant. Foster who attempts (but never attains) a bold face of calm and control, jokingly introduces Spooner to Briggs as "Mr. Friend". This h o s t i l e sarcasm meant to intimidate Spooner and force him to i d e n t i f y himself by name i s completely i n e f f e c t i v e , as are a l l of Foster and Briggs' t a c t i c s against t h i s stranger-friend. Briggs participates i n the attempt to lower Spooner's status, claiming to have seen him c o l l e c t beer mugs at the Bu l l ' s Head Tavern. Spooner does not deny or discount t h i s claim, but allows Foster and Briggs to argue themselves into strengthening h i s position: 5. Pinter, p. 34. 102. BRIGGS. He's a bloody friend of everyone then. 6 Spooner functions i n the play as a guide to H i r s t i n a journey which must be perceived, at least i n the metaphorical sense, as the coming of death - a journey which Spooner repeatedly claims to have already taken. His coming precipitates H i r s t ' s dream. Spooner claims to be i n the dream, and i t i s he to whom H i r s t turns for help when he f a l l s a f t e r recounting the dream. Foster attempts to ward off Spooner, i n t u i t i v e l y understanding that he i s a threat, without ever understanding why. SPOONER. I t was I drowning i n your dream. HIRST f a l l s to the f l o o r . They a l l go to him. FOSTER turns to SPOONER. FOSTER. Bugger o f f . BRIGGS p u l l s HIRST up. HIRST wards him o f f . HIRST. Unhand me. He stands erect. SPOONER moves to him. SPOONER. He has grandchildren. As have I. As I have. We both have fathered. We are of an age. I know h i s wants. Let me take h i s arm. Respect our age. Come, I ' l l seat you. He takes HIRST's aim and leads him to a chair. There's no p i t y i n these people. FOSTER. Christ SPOONER. I am your true f r i e n d . That i s why your dream...was so distressing. 6. Pinter, p. 38. In such a l y r i c a l and poetic play, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to accept Briggs r e c o l l e c t i o n of Spooner on a l i t e r a l l e v e l . One i s reminded that Spooner's offer to aid H i r s t i s 'carte blanche'. As evidenced i n the f i n a l scene of the play; he w i l l do whatever he may have to i n order to befriend H i r s t on t h i s journey. There i s an insinuation here that he may have befriended the landlord of the B u l l ' s Head Tavern i n l i k e manner. Spooner re-introduces t h i s character i n his f i n a l appeal to H i r s t , during which he offers private readings i n the upstairs of a par t i c u l a r public house, "where the landlord - who happens to be a friend of mine - would I know be overjoyed to entertain you, ..." (Pinter, p. 90.) 103. You saw me drowning i n your dream. But have no fear, I am not drowned.7 This b r i e f exchange among the four men contains Foster's impotence as defender, H i r s t ' s rejection of Briggs and Foster as aids, h i s acceptance of the stranger, Spooner, i n t h e i r place, and Spooner's amazing claim of salvation. Foster's frustrated, sarcastic response to the whole of i t i s : FOSTER. C h r i s t . 8 Though a l l of the plays enjoy free use of the most c o l o r f u l gutter language, Pinter's use of r e l i g i o u s profanity i s rare. Pinter uses Foster's sarcasm to emphasize that Spooner performs, for H i r s t , as a figure of salvation. The play has an exquisite duality with i t s apparent bleak existentialism i n the description of no man's land, which i s contrasted by the serenity and peace of Spooner, who seems to have passed beyond t h i s state. Whether no man's land i s a metaphor for the death of c r e a t i v i t y i n an a r t i s t (mind) or for the ceasing of l i f e functions (body), Spooner quietly but continuously asserts that there i s not only s u r v i v a l , but serenity, somewhere on the other side. The second act of the play constitutes H i r s t ' s second acceptance of Spooner, t h i s time as Weatherby, and the acceptance of a new state of being, defined by Spooner as no man's land. Spooner 7. Pinter, pp. 47-^8 8. Pinter p. 48. 104. continues to function as a guide - an old friend who, having taken t h i s path before, w i l l lead the way. The f i r s t scene of the Act between Spooner and Briggs provides an enlightening departure from Spooner's powerful serenity. In the f i r s t Act, we know t h i s man as Spooner; i n the second, we know him as Weatherby. Although his function i n r e l a t i o n to H i r s t does not a l t e r , h i s approach i s considerably less mystical i n the second act. This f i r s t scene functions as a scene of transformation from Spooner to Weatherby and to shed further l i g h t on Spooner's state of being. Though Spooner maintains some of h i s other-worldliness (he does not require food, he drinks but does not become drunk, h i s presence causes Briggs inexplicably to reveal himself), he temporarily loses that f i r s t act quality of being a free man. He momentarily loses his sense of iden t i t y and purpose, and doesn't even seem to remember H i r s t . SPOONER. The boss...is a poet himself? BRIGGS. Don't be s i l l y . He's more than that, i s n ' t he? He's an essayist and c r i t i c as w e l l . He's a man of l e t t e r s . SPOONER. I thought h i s face was f a m i l i a r . 9 His sense of remembering t h i s a l l having happened before becomes vague and confused. He keeps reminding himself as though to t r y to get a handle on the present. SPOONER. I have known t h i s before. Morning. A locked door. A house of silence and strangers. SPOONER. I have known t h i s before. The door unlocked. The entrance of a stranger. The offe r of alms. The shark i n the harbour. 9. Pinter p. 67. 105. SPOONER. I nave known t h i s before. The voice unheard. A l i s t e n e r . The command from an upper f l o o r . 1 0 During t h i s scene, Spooner too i s stuck i n some sort of no man's land. Without H i r s t , Spooner loses h i s raison d'etre and becomes los t himself. With H i r s t ' s a r r i v a l , Spooner's purpose, i d e n t i t y , and powers as guide are renewed. The r e l a t i o n between Spooner and H i r s t i s reminiscent of that of Death and Everyman. 1 1 H i r s t confesses, becomes angry over Spooner's observations of bis past behaviour, b r i e f l y attempts rejections, and f i n a l l y accepts the r e a l i t y which Spooner signals. Spooner acts throughout as a calm, d i g n i f i e d and knowledgeable guide. He i s not surprised by Hi r s t ' s confession, having p r i o r knowledge not only of i t s content, but of much which H i r s t does not choose to confess. Spooner i s unalarmed by Hirst's outrage and hopeless attempt at rej e c t i o n . HIRST. This i s outrageous! Who are you? What are you doing i n my house? He goes to the door and c a l l s . Denson! A whisky and soda! He walks about the room You are c l e a r l y a lout. The Charles Weatherby I knew was a gentleman. I see a figure reduced... 1 2 10. Pinter, pp. 59,60,68 respectively. 11. Everyman, (Author Unknown), version by John Gassner, A  Treasury of Theatre: From Aeschylus to Ostrovsky, John Gassner, ed., (New York: Simon and Schuster), p. 204. 12. Pinter, No Man's Land, p. 78. 106. Again, Spooner's t a c t i c s are those of serenity and silence. He allows H i r s t to vent h i s anger fr e e l y , and waits for H i r s t to argue himself around to the decision to be kind and to offer to show Spooner h i s photo album. Even at the height of h i s anger, Hi r s t does not turn to Briggs or Foster for assistance or a change of subject, but to Spooner. He does not ask that Spooner be escorted out or accept any of Foster or Briggs' o f f e r s to do so. I t i s i n fact Briggs whom he threatens with dismissal. He also refuses to leave with Foster on his routine morning walk across the Heath. Spooner gradually assumes r e s p o n s i b i l i t y not only for H i r s t ' s s p i r i t u a l needs, but h i s physical needs as w e l l . Foster and Briggs, for a l l intents and purposes, have been dismissed. H i r s t rejects going for h i s walk and h i s normal routine of the day, claiming he must come to a decision. HIRST. Today I s h a l l come to a conclusion. There are certain matters.. .which today I must resolve. SPOONER. I ' l l help you. 1 3 Spooner i s quietly firm regarding h is association to H i r s t . This assertion of Spooner's i s c a r e f u l l y placed i n i t s connection not to help Hirst with the d a i l y physical things but with h i s need to come to resolution. 13. Pinter, p. 86. 107. Spooner's l a t e r appeals to H i r s t to perform as companion, protector, and professional agent must not be seen as grovelling requests, but as an eloquent and compassionate expression of an offer which Spooner knows H i r s t has no choice but to accept. H i r s t has already had h i s dream of death, and Spooner c l e a r l y states h i s o f f e r , to be H i r s t ' s protector at that time. SPOONER. (...) I w i l l accept death's challenge on your behalf. I s h a l l meet i t , for your sake, boldly, whether i t be i n the f i e l d or i n the bedchamber. I am your Chevalier. I had rather bury myself i n a tomb of honour than permit your dignity to be s u l l i e d by domestic enemy or foreign foe. I am yours to command.14. As Spooner at l a s t concludes h i s 'carte blanche' offer to H i r s t , the answer comes back: HIRST. Let us change the subject. Pause. For the l a s t time. Pause. What have I s a i d ? 1 5 H i r s t has indeed accepted that which Spooner brings, and, i n h i s acceptance, comes the b i r t h of a new state of being. HIRST. But I hear the sound of birds. Don't hear them? Sounds I never heard before. I hear them as they must have sounded then, when I was young, although I never heard them then, although they sounded about us then. 14. Pinter, p. 89. 15. Pinter, p. 91. 108. Pause. Yes. I t i s true. I am walking towards a lake. Someone i s following me, through the trees. I loose him e a s i l y . I see a body i n the water, f l o a t i n g . I am excited. I look closer and I see I was mistaken. There i s nothing i n the water. I say to myself, I saw a body, drowning. But I am mistaken. There i s nothing there. Silence. SPOONER. No. You are i n no man's land. Which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but which remains forever, i c y and s i l e n t . . Silence. HIRST. I ' l l drink to that. He d r i n k s . 1 6 16. Pinter, p. 95. VI Conclusion 109. P i n t e r derives the primary tension i n h i s work by dealing with one of the most basic and primitive of human i n s t i n c t s - fear. In the early work he deals with fear of the unknown and of death. He then proceeds to explore fear of rejection, fear of loneliness, and, i n No Man's Land, returns once again to the most primitive and consuming of a l l fears - fear of death. His topic over the years a l t e r s very l i t t l e ; i t i s h i s treatment of t h i s topic which provides v a r i a t i o n . One way i n which to categorize the work studied i n t h i s thesis i s to describe a basic arc i n Pinter's work, which i s at f i r s t primarily physical, then i n t e l l e c t u a l , and f i n a l l y psychological. Obviously each of the plays contains a l l three of these aspects, but there i s a gradual movement i n terms of how Pinter expresses h i s concerns, and i n terms of what aspects of an incident or series of incidents he focuses upon. Although i n t e l l e c t u a l and psychological both refer to the workings of the mind and may at f i r s t seem inseparable, for my purposes I would define the i n t e l l e c t as the conscious workings of the mind, and psychological as the deeper, more subconscious part of the mind, concerned with feeling and emotion. This gradual movement i s also indicated by the set designs of the plays and by t h e i r t i t l e s which (as previously mentioned) go from physical realism to metal abstraction to an amalgamation of the two. This arc i s p a r t i c u l a r l y clear i n terms of the outcomes of the plays. In the f i r s t phase (The Room - A S l i g h t Ache), there i s generally a d r a s t i c change i n the physical state of being of the central character. Pinter deals overtly with fear of death - the end of physical being. 1 The t h e a t r i c a l presentation of t h i s idea i s strongly v i s u a l and physical. These f i r s t four plays are a l l highly concerned with b r u t a l i t y (again physical) and, despite the mystical and supernatural nuances which run throughout the plays, they remain earthbound. In the next phase of h i s work (The Caretaker - The  Homecoming), t a c t i c s and outcomes become more dependent on the i n t e l l e c t . Pinter's concern with b r u t a l i t y remains, but the b r u t a l i t y i s primarily verbal, not physical. Words become the most ef f e c t i v e t o o l s of power and the outcomes that b e f a l l characters are expulsion, exposure, or both. These outcomes are no longer realized through the physical demolition of the character. This phase i s the most s o c i a l of the three as Pinter deals with the group's need for a stranger i n order to s o l i d i f y the group. Pinter puts greater i n t e l l e c t u a l demands upon himself, h i s characters and h i s audience. The f i n a l phase (Landscape - No Man's Land) goes one step deeper, exploring not ju s t the i n t e l l e c t , but the profounder psychological drives and needs of the characters. Pinter deals with many of the same subjects (fear of death, fear of re j e c t i o n , loneliness) but he now focuses less on external results and more on 1. The only exception i s The Dumb Waiter, i n which the action builds to the precipice of dr a s t i c physical change. internal motivations and responses. One might contrast the rather s u p e r f i c i a l , i n t e l l e c t u a l love games played by Sarah and Richard i n The Lover, with the deadly serious ones of Kate, Anna, and Deeley i n Old Times. Where, i n the early plays, he deals with death as a physical f i n a l i t y , i n No Man's Land he explores a much more complex and psychological type of death - the death of c r e a t i v i t y , the death of desire to go on, while the physical body s t i l l l i v e s . Throughout t h i s cycle, the one character Pinter continuously employs i s the stranger. He functions as the center post of Pinter's plots and as the bearer of h i s themes, personifying at various times the unknown, fate, the rejected, the rejector (new king) and death. The strangers of the f i r s t three plays a l l overtly perform as messengers. They have something to t e l l to the central character(s) and t h e i r delivery of t h i s message dominates the play. Riley's stated purpose i s to deliver a message, the stranger i n The  Dumb Waiter sends messages ( i n fact demands) v i a the dumb waiter, and Goldberg/McCann are the agents, thus messengers, of Monty. I include the matchseller i n t h i s messenger group of strangers, for though he does not overtly deliver a message, Pinter employs the matchseller i n a d e l i g h t f u l l y i r o n i c way, endowing the character with many of the external trappings of a messenger (mysterious a r r i v a l , blindness, Edward's obsession with him). The irony of course i s that there i s no message. (There are no answers - should you meet Wilson or Monty he i s deaf, dumb and blind.) 112 These four strangers have a number of features i n common besides the messenger function. A l l of them are overtly mysterious; they arrive i n inexplicable ways and possess unexplained powers. As to t h e i r pasts, and t h e i r reasons for appearing to these characters at t h i s p a r t i c u l a r time, Pinter gives either contradictory information, or none at a l l . The inside characters consistently endow these strangers with immense knowledge and consequently a kind of omnipotence. This omnipotence i s supported by the mysterious and a l l e g o r i c a l q u a l i t i e s with which Pinter endows them, and by the f a t a l i s t i c overtones which accompany t h e i r v i s i t s . The mere a r r i v a l of the strangers consistently induces some degree of panic i n the inside characters. The messages they bring, imply or catalyse, t e r r o r i z e the inside characters, whose attempts to escape or repel the messengers are f u t i l e . Though Pin t e r provides only hints as to how or why, he c a r e f u l l y implies a bond between the strangers and the characters they v i s i t . There i s always the sense that the messengers come from the inside characters' pasts. The combination of Pinter's ambiguity over the exact o r i g i n of the strangers and the obvious but undefined power they hold over the inside characters allows the strangers to function as personifications of fate. Ultimately, Rose, Gus, Stanley and Edward a l l recognize i n the person of the stanger t h e i r own death. Fortunately, even at t h i s early stage i n h i s career, Pinter i s complicated enough not to simply k i l l off h i s characters. Rose, who i s prevented from accompanying Ri l e y , goes bl i n d ; Gus i s l e f t facing the b a r r e l of a revolver; Stanley and Edward become blinded, babbling morons. 113 . Pinter provides symbolic scenes of destruction which metaphorize death. Despite the metaphorical and a l l e g o r i c a l aspects of these plays, despite Pinter's attempt to elevate them to the realm of metaphysics (that i s , to deal with the ultimate nature of existence, r e a l i t y , experience), they remain earthbound. They are consumed with physical violence, the outcome of each being the physical destruction of a character. The weapons employed are guns, f i s t s and feet. Even i n the case of Edward, where no weapons are used, Edward perpetually threatens physical violence and, i n the end, i s physically destroyed. These f i r s t four plays, though frequently reaching into other realms ( i n t e l l e c t u a l , psychological, metaphorical, a l l e g o r i c a l ) , remain very physical. The next four plays, The Caretaker through The Homecoming, constitute a grouping i n which the i n t e l l e c t defines and controls the arena i n which battles are fought. Pinter abandons the mysterious, a l l e g o r i c a l and f a t a l i s t i c q u a l i t i e s of the e a r l i e r plays i n favour of increased realism. The work i s s t i l l strongly physical, but i t i s much less dependent on t h i s aspect i n terms of both t a c t i c s and outcomes. These are 'mind game' plays. The tools of power employed are dependent on the i n t e l l e c t . The b r u t a l i t y of the early plays i s s t i l l present, but the b r u t a l i t y now works on a character's mind more than h i s body. In The Caretaker and The C o l l e c t i o n , such apparently innocent objects as vacuum cleaners, tote bags, and cheese knives 114 function as weapons. The Lover i s based e n t i r e l y on an i n t e l l e c t u a l game, and i n The Homecoming, though s t i c k s and f i s t s emerge again, they are used i n a facetious manner. The real power battles are played on i n t e l l e c t u a l l e v e l s . Words become the most e f f e c t i v e weapons i n t h i s phase of Pinter's work. In these plays we can no longer i d e n t i f y the stranger simply by h i s being a newcomer. Pinter begins to look at the d e f i n i t i o n of stranger from a variety of points of view, and to deal with the f l u x i n relationships which reveals di f f e r e n t characters to be the stranger at d i f f e r e n t points i n time. This phase of the work i s more s o c i a l l y oriented than the other two. Pinter's focus s h i f t s toward the group and how i t i s threatened or strengthened by the stranger. Where i n the f i r s t phase he explores fear of strangers, i n t h i s phase he explores the need for strangers. Aston and Mick need the stranger i n order to play a game which r e s u l t s i n expulsion of the stranger and a strengthening of t h e i r bond as brothers. S t e l l a and Sarah require stranger sex (at least i n fantasy) i n order to remain content. In The Homecoming, Pinter combines both of these games and adds a new t w i s t . A sexual contract i s arranged between Teddy's family and the stranger Ruth, at which point a new stranger must be made. The group i s redefined i n i t s expulsion of Teddy. In t h i s phase of the work, Pinter deals with the making of strangers through conscious choice - a very i n t e l l e c t u a l game. Following The Homecoming, Pinter moves into a deeper, more psychological phase. The plays almost completely shed p h y s i c a l i t y ; i n Landscape, Silence and Old Times, none of the characters ever physically touch each other, and the room i t s e l f disappears. Space, time, memory, a l l aspects which we normally perceive to determine r e a l i t y , become subjective rather than objective. The function of the stranger evolves i n that there i s no longer a p a r t i c u l a r a r r i v a l and p a r t i c u l a r stranger around whom the plot revolves, but a v i s i o n of r e a l i t y i n which everyone i s a stranger. The fear Pinter now focuses upon i s that of loneliness. Fear no longer derives from a s i t u a t i o n i n which one character threatens another, but from the t e r r i f y i n g v i s i o n of a world which offers nothing but peopled loneliness. Everyone i s estranged from everyone else. The characters of Old Times cannot even establish an agreed upon memory of t h e i r pasts; those who have thought themselves friends and even lovers discover themselves mistaken. In t h i s bleak period of Pinter's w r i t i n g everyone i s apparently the odd man out. This depressive v i s i o n of the world i s somewhat mellowed i n No Man's Land. A s l i v e r of l i g h t cracks the bleakness i n the person of Spooner - the stranger who turns out to be an old f r i e n d . This i s the f i r s t time i n a l l of Pinter's plays that t h i s figure functions as both stranger and friend. Though he has danced around t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y i n a number of the e a r l i e r plays (Riley, Richard, Ruth, Anna) he has never been as successful with i t as he i s here. As Spooner says, he i s kindness i t s e l f ( certainly he must not seem so to H i r s t , who experiences anxiety and h o s t i l i t y before f i n a l l y accepting Spooner as h i s guide), but what Spooner off e r s , i n the long run, i s the love of a good ghost. Pinter's v i s i o n of the relationship between one man and another has acquired an extremely matured sense of compassion. The world i s no longer f i l l e d with strangers, but with old friends. While the stranger figure has previously personified threat and fear, i n t h i s play he functions as a guide i n accepting and overcoming fear. With No Man's Land, Pinter re-introduces the phy s i c a l i t y of the room and of characters touching one another. The psycholo-g i c a l basis of the play i s so strongly entrenched that i t i s not threatened by the re-introduction of the trappings of realism. No Man's Land i s remarkably s i m i l a r to the early messenger plays. Structurally No Man's Land and The Room are almost i d e n t i c a l . Though many of the plays have strong s i m i l a r i t i e s , the p a r a l l e l s of construction between The Room and No Man's Land are remarkable; further they are the only two of the canon with t h i s i d e n t i c a l structure. The outline i s b a s i c a l l y as follows: A character (Spooner/Riley) who at f i r s t appears to be a stranger but i s l a t e r revealed to be a revenant bears a message to another character (Hirst/Rose). This character i s mysterious, has a quality of other-worldliness and, although threatening, i s exceedingly gentle. An intermediary character (Foster/Briggs, Bert), whose only 117 . way of coping with the world i s violence, unsuccessfully attempts to protect Hirst/Rose from a l l contact with t h i s messenger. The intermediaries are completely unsuccessful as protectors; the message i s delivered, and the message i s death. This ambitious topic seems to overwhelm Pinter i n h i s f i r s t attempt, and The Room suffers from vagueness and a confused mixture of realism and allegory. No Man's Land i s an i n f i n i t e l y sophisticated re-working of an idea which seems to have plagued Pinter since the composition of his f i r s t play. Pinter claims to consider each of h i s plays "a diff e r e n t kind of f a i l u r e " 2 and thus attempts i n each new play to solve the f a i l u r e s of previous attempts. No Man's Land, i t seems, f i n a l l y succeeds where The Room f a i l e d . Perhaps with No Man's Land - ju s t as the character H i r s t , f o r the f i r s t time, i s able to accept and cope with the t e r r i f y i n g message the stranger brings - perhaps i n No Man's Land Pinter has at la s t come to terms with whatever fear has driven him to write twenty years of stranger plays. The remarkable s i m i l a r i t y between No Man's  Land and hi s f i r s t play suggests the completion of a cycle i n Pinter's work, for with No Man's Land he returns to his i n i t i a l theme, message, and motif. Curiously enough, with h i s next play he leaves a l l these behind. Betrayal i s the f i r s t of Pinter's major plays not to deal with the stranger as a central figure. 2. Harold Pinter, PLAYS:ONE, The Birthday Party, The Room, The Dumb Waiter, A S l i g h t Ache, A Night Out (London: Cox and Wyman Ltd., 1976), p. 117. BIBLIOGRAPHY 118. Alvarez, A. "Death i n the Morning". New Statesman, 12 December 1959, p. 836 . "Wanted A Language". New Statesman, 30 January 1960, p. 150. Amend, V i c t o r E. "Harold Pinter: Some Credits & Some Debits" Modern Drama, 10 (September 1967), p. 165. Baker & Tabachnick, Harold Pi n t e r , Cox & Wyman Ltd. London, 1973. Bernhard, F.J. "Beyond Realism: The Plays of Harold Pinter." Modern Drama, 8, No. 2 (Sept. 1965), 185-191. . "English Theatre 1963: In the Wake of the New Wave". Books "Abroad, 38, 143-144. Boulton, J.T. "Harold Pinter: The Caretaker & Other Plays". Modem  Drama, 6, No. 2 (Sept. 1963), 131-140. Brown, J.R. "Dialogue i n Pinter & Others," C r i t i c a l Quarterly, 7, No. 3 (Autumn 1965), 225-243. . ed. Modern B r i t i s h Dramatists: A Co l l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l  "Essays, London, 1968. Brustein, Robert. The Theatre of Revolt: An Approach to the Modern  Drama, Boston, 1962; London 1965. Burkman, Katherine. The Dramatic World of Harold Pinter: I t s Basis  In R i t u a l , Ohio State University Press, Ohio Dukore, Bernard F. Where Laughter Stops: Pinter's Tragicomedy, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London, 1976. E s s l i n , Martin. Pinter: A Study of h i s Plays, Metheun & Co. Ltd. London, 1920. . The Peopled Wound: The World of Harold P i n t e r , Doubleday & Co. Inc., Anchor Books, New York, 1970. Ganz, Arthur, ed. Pinter: A Col l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l Essays, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood C l i f f s , N.J., 1972. Gassner, John. ed. Everyman, (Author Unknown) from A Treasury of  Theatre: From Aeschylus to Ostrovsky, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1967. Gordon, Lo i s . Stratagems to Cover Nakedness, University of Missouri Press, Columbia & Missouri, 1969. Hayman, Ronald. Harold Pinter. (Contemporary Playwrights Series) Heineman Educational Books Ltd., London, 1968. H i n c h l i f f e , Arnold P. Harold Pi n t e r , Twayne Publishers Inc. New York, 1967. H o i l i s , James R. Harold Pi n t e r , Carbondale, I l l i n o i s , 1970. Lahr, John, ed., A Casebook of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, Grove Press, New York, 1971. Pi n t e r . "Writing for Myself", Twentieth Century, Feb., 1961. . "Writing for the Theatre", Evergreen Review, No. 33, August/September, 1964. . PLAYS:ONE, The Birthday Party, The Room, The Dumb Waiter, A  "Slight Ache, A Night Out, Cox & Wyman Ltd., London, 1976. . PLAYS:TWO, The Caretaker, The Co l l e c t i o n , The Lover, Night "School, The Dwarfs, Cox & Wyman Ltd., London, 1977. 120. . The Homecoming, Metheun & Co. Ltd., London, 1965. • Landscape and Silence, Eyre Methuen Ltd., London, 1969. . Old Times, Grove Press Inc., New York, 1971. • No Man's Land, Grove Press Inc., New York, 1975. . Betrayal, Eyre Methuen Ltd., London, 1978. Schechner, Richard. "Puzzling Pinter", Tulane Drame Review, 11, No.2 (Winter 1966). States, Bert 0. "Pinter's Homecoming: The Shock of Non-Recognition", Hudson Review, 21 (August 1968). Storch, R.F. Harold Pinter's Happy Families, Massachusetts Reviews, 8 (August 1967). Sykes, Arlene. Harold Pi n t e r , University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Queensland, 1970. Taylor, J.R. Anger and After: A Guide to New B r i t i s h Drama, London, 1969. ~ 

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