This paper discusses the ways of communication of two characters Ben and Gus in Harold Pinter’s play, dumb waiter. Ben and Gus are two assassins awaiting the arrival of their next victim in a dank basement. The pair inhabits a pantomimic parody of world where nothing is ever accomplished through their dialogue. As a result they talk, but they don’t communicate. This paper examines four kinds of their communication and the violence and menace underneath it. It also explores the concept of power regarding their communication and the notion of silence that permeates the play.
Keywords: silence, communication, power, menace, social class
Harold Pinter, English playwright, achieved international renown as one of the most complex and challenging post-World War II dramatists. His plays are noted for their use of understatement, small talk, reticence and even silence to convey the substance of a character's thought, which often lies several layers beneath, and contradicts, his speech. In 2005 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The son of a Jewish tailor, Pinter grew up in London's East End in a working-class area. He studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1948 but left after two terms to join a repertory company as a professional actor. Pinter toured Ireland and England with various acting companies, appearing under the name David Baron in provincial repertory theatres until 1959. After 1956 he began to write for the stage. The Room (first produced 1957) and The Dumb Waiter (first produced 1959), his first two plays, are one-act dramas that established the mood of comic menace that was to figure largely in his later works After Pinter's radio play A Slight Ache (first produced 1959) was adapted for the stage (1961), his reputation was secured by his second full-length play, The Caretaker (first produced 1960; filmed 1963), which established him as more than just another practitioner of the then-popular Theatre of the Absurd. His next major play, The Homecoming (first produced 1965), helped establish him as the originator of a unique dramatic idiom. Such plays as Landscape (first produced 1969), Silence (first produced 1969), Night (first produced 1969), and Old Times (first produced 1971) virtually did away with physical activity on the stage. Pinter's later successes included No Man's Land (first produced 1975), Betrayal (first produced 1978), Moonlight (first produced 1993), and Celebration (first produced 2000). From the 1970s on, Pinter did much directing of both his own and others' works. By and large, Pinter’s later dramas, often more overtly political than his previous works, have been greeted with less critical acclaim than his earlier plays. Pinter who has written twenty-nine plays and twenty-one screen plays and directed twenty-seven theater productions, is one of the early practitioners of the Theater of the Absurd which started in the fifties. Absurd, which is one of the many different aspects of his works, functions as a means of getting into the reality that is Pinter’s main concern. In his own web site he writes, In 1958 I wrote the following: 'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false'. I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false? The generic analysis of Harold Pinter’s works has been one of the main interests of and, at the same time, controversial issues among his critics. Many critics regard him as one of the predominant figures of the Theatre of the Absurd, and his works have been approached in the light of the theories and doctrines of this avant-garde literature. Though very enlightening and...
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