Discuss the Caretaker as "A Comedy of Menace".

6631 Words Dec 6th, 2010 27 Pages
The initial review of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker generally followed a pattern: the brilliance of the actors was celebrated and the questions of influence, primarily Beckett's, were linked to discussions of the relationship between the comic and serious elements in the play. Interpretations of the 'meaning' varied from the literal to the fully allegorical, by way of generalized abstract tags. Subsequent academic criticism, deriving from textual study rather than stage performance, has early always followed the serio-tragical-symbolical-abstract line- what we might call Modern Man in Search of His Insurance Cards, or, I stink. Therefore I am. The comedy of The Caretaker is not a dispensable palliative. To discuss 'meaning without taking …show more content…
Rather than follow the tendency to generalise from paraphrase and thereby lose the essential drama, one must examine certain passages in order to bring out the deeply sensitive psychological insight that lies behind Pinter's plain statement.
Deeply Sensitive Psychological Insight
When the curtain rises, Mick shares the activity of the audience. 'He slowly looks about The Room looking at each object in turn. He looks up at the ceiling, and stares at the bucket. Then he brazenly separates himself from the audience. 'Ceasing, he sits quite still, expressionless, looking out front. Silence for thirty seconds.' Mick then leaves upon hearing 'muffled voices'. This silent enigma is in dramatic contrast to the end of the play. At the outset Mick, in effect, rejects the audience by walking offstage after a protracted silence, while at the close it is Davies who is left onstage rejected by the audience insofar as we recognize that he must go. But this formal, inverted symmetry is recognised retrospectively. Mick's silence and departure stays as a qualm, leaving a question behind the laughter that is immediate.
Aston's opening invitation to Davies to 'sit down' is manifestly frustrated by the evident disorder of the attic. As Aston sorts out
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