Dhaka Courier

Harold Pinter: a Modern Dramatist

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Harold Pinter, a playwright, screenwriter, director, actor, and the most influential modern British dramatist, was born on October 10, 1930, in Hackney, London, UK, son of a Jewish tailor and a working-class upbringing. He was the author of more than 30 plays which were written between 1957 and 2000 and those plays changed the shape of British theatre post-WWII. His work was greatly influenced by Samuel Beckett, an Irish novelist, playwright, poet, short story writer, and a great Modern dramatist.

Modern Drama is “a particular type of drama which depicts modern attributes and shows all the changes that happened on the political, social, economic, religious, and psychological level”.

Pinter is widely known among other modern dramatists for the use of colloquial language, unpolished grammar, numerous cliches, and illogical syntax that made his works so influential that his name has been used to describe certain situations- the “Pinter Pause”. His writings are also characterized by irony, oxymorons, paradox, repetitions, and so on. Because of his contribution to the field of literature, he was awarded by Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

Pinter’s dramas deal with manifold themes. Among them, loneliness and isolation, lack of communication, violence and menace, personal identity, love of power, primitive instincts, human nature, dreams and illusions, and many more. His dramas illustrated the picture of the post-WWII society that how the people were alienated from one another. He also showed the dehumanizing effects of modernity among people. His dramas are also associated with the trend of modernism such as the stream of consciousness, surrealism, cubism, dadaism, futurism, expressionism, imagination, and symbolism.

Pinter wrote his first play The Room in 1957 which was presented in Bristol by which he made his playwriting debut. Other prominent plays are The Birthday Party (1957), The Dumbwaiter (1957), The Caretaker (1959), The Homecoming (1964), Old Times (1970), No Man’s Land (1975), Betrayal (1978), and so on.

The Caretaker is considered one of the famous modern dramas where Pinter criticizes the 1950s English society in different ways. It is called Pinter’s second full-length play where he uses only three characters such as Davies, Aston, and Mick. It consists of the element of tragedy and comedy. Pinter commented, "As far as I am concerned The Caretaker is funny, up to a point. Beyond that point, it ceases to be funny, and it is because of that point that I wrote it." It is often compared to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The setting of the play is realistic and historical. The play takes place in a one-room apartment which was owned by two brothers and is assumed to be located in West London. In the play, davies is a man who is rejected by society because he does not have his identity. Davies is called a man without an identity. Aston, the older brother of Mick, appears shy, reserved, and slow. He was given electric shock therapy for that his brain became permanently damaged. Mick, an intelligent and ambitious who cares deeply for his brother and was also rejected by society.

The play deals with various themes which are the political state in England, social class, race, deception, and identity problem. The Caretaker is also associated with the Theater of the Absurd, a post–World War II designation for particular plays that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence.

Harold Pinter, a Nobel Laureate, the foremost representative of British drama who occupied in the highest position in the field of literature, died on December 24, 2008, due to liver cancer. He remains the prominent figure as he links the pre-war theatre with the modern one.

Md. Jubel Miah, BA (Hon’s) in English MC College, Sylhet. Email: ahmedjubelbcc@gmail.com

  • Harold Pinter
  • Born on October 10, 1930
  • Modern Dramatist

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