The Dumbwaiter

Topics: The Dumb Waiter, Question, Harold Pinter Pages: 3 (1040 words) Published: March 30, 2011
This essay will argue that the relationship between Ben and Gus in The Dumbwaiter is one that is exceedingly unbalanced rooted in a quest for power whereby Ben, assumes the role of superior and Gus the subordinate. Their relationship appears void of emotion and solitude, yet both characters are interdependent on the other to certify their very existence. It can be argued that Ben and Gus’s assume their identities in relation to the other; Ben essentially assumes the role of the master and Gus the role of the slave. Throughout the play Gus is predominantly submissive to Ben’s demands thus allowing Ben to assume the superior position in their relationship. It is notable that in a relationship which is unevenly balanced Ben appears much more secure, while Gus emerges anxious and uncertain in his relations with Ben. From the very beginning of the play it is clear that Ben and Gus’s relationship is unbalanced by an unequal division of power as Pinter creates a scene which is comparable to a master keeping a watchful eye over the activities of his slave. As the play opens Ben sits in silence reading a newspaper while observing the activities of Gus. As Gus “kneels and unities his shoe lace” we are told that “Ben lowers his paper and watches him”. The very idea that Ben observes Gusas he takes a flattened matchbox out of his shoe suggests It is evident that Ben and Gus’s relationship is empty of emotion which is illustrated in the emptiness of the dialogue which is enacted between the two characters. Ben and Gus do not engage in meaningful dialogue, but converse about trivial matters such as the toilet cistern and the kettle. Such patterns of dialogue are particularly revealing to the overall quest for power as Ben escalates an innocent disagreement regarding the phrase “Light the Kettle” to a serious physical altercation. The struggle for dominance is made evident by Ben who uses violence to intimidate a submissive Gus “grabbing him with two hands by the throat, at...
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