Power and Gender Politics in 'the Homecoming' -Pinter

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Pinter Essay

There has been speculation over whether Pinter’s later plays are a departure from the more metaphorical explorations of power to being more openly political, or whether his plays have been political from the beginning. This progression from the metaphorical power games can be seen in “The Homecoming”, written in 1967, and “One for the road”, written in 1984. In the exposition of “The Homecoming” the play could be mistaken as apolitical but its exploration of gender politics makes it broadly political.

The gender conflict in “The Homecoming” is presented mainly through patriarchal power. The character of Max uses verbal violence in order to dominate those around him. Max: “We’ve had a stinking pox-ridden slut.”

Max uses blunt and forceful language in order to gain dominance over Ruth, the only female in the play. These obscenities are repeated throughout the play and are representative of Max’s assumed superiority over women. This is evident in his attitude towards his wife who he refers to as a “bitch”. However this continues degradation of women could be seen as a defensive device as he struggles to cope with another strong-willed character. He sees Ruth in particular as a threat as she is an outsider and does to conform to the rules that he and his family adhere to. Every character in “The Homecoming” has their designated male characteristic, e.g. Joey represents male power. When Ruth arrives she doesn’t settle into the expected role as she is not the timid female that he seems used to. His words are deliberately chosen in order to cause offence and are an attempt to drive any threats to his position in the house away.

The character of Lenny is used to explore manipulation as a form of power. Ruth: “How did you know she was diseased?”
Lenny: “I decided she was.”
Lenny, from the moment he meets Ruth, attempts to establish a dominant position with his two stories of aggressive behaviour towards women. However he only...
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