UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Pinter’s strangers Worthington, Bonnie Marie


This thesis concerns itself with the study of a single recurring character in Pinter's work whom I define as the stranger. The thesis asserts that Pinter's use of the stranger figure, in its many varied forms, is 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, intrusion, the past, the future, loneliness, estrangement, death. Thus, Pinter uses such fears to catalyse the dramatic actions of his plays. The study includes all of Pinter's major plays from "The Room" through "No Man's Land", and progresses chronologically, tracing Pinter's developing sophistication in the use of this motif. The thesis consists of an introduction, in which I define the term stranger as used in this study; five chapter divisions, based on the progression of major variations in Pinter's exploration of this motif; and a conclusion, which points out the cyclical nature of Pinter's work from "The Room" through "No Man's Land". The conclusion also summarizes the over-all trends of Pinter's work, from his early dependence on physicality, through his intellectual period, to the almost entirely psychological final phase. The five chapters explore Pinter's work play by play, following the progress of his use of the stranger. After his initial, rather overt use of this motif, Pinter quickly moves into more subtle and complex handling of this figure, splitting the stranger into two characters, creating confusion over "Who is the stranger?", switching the role of stranger from one character to another through the course of the play, discovering estrangement as an inevitability of the human condition, and returning at last (with all the preceding nuances incorporated) to the stranger as a single character. At its skeletal minimum, the argument of the thesis is that Pinter has based all of his major dramatic works on essentially the same dramatic action. It is the variations and disguises he has given the formula, the inventions, discoveries, and machinations of this single motif with which this thesis is concerned.

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