the caretaker is a three

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  • 8/7/2019 The Caretaker is a three


    The Caretaker is a three-act play written by the English playwright Harold Pinter. This play

    involves interaction between a mentally-challenged man, Aston; Davis, whom Aston invites home

    to his attic room; and Mick, Astons brother, who appears to be responsible for the house. This play

    seems to address many issues related to the Theatre of the Absurd that could be noted mainly in the

    characters, language and plot.

    As far as the characters are concerned, the play opens with two brothers, Aston and Mick, whose

    lifes precarious balance breaks down by the entrance of a stranger, Davis, as their fears, hatred,

    obsession with power, and loneliness emerge from a screen of a bizarre yet commonplace

    conversation. Indeed, because of an incomprehensible universe, the characters have abandoned a

    rational way of thinking and behaving. Aston is a mentally challenged person who tries to show

    some of the bygone ideals of hospitality and generosity by inviting a tramp home. However, being

    generous does not match the criteria of that absurd world, since Davies, who is supposed to be

    thankful for Astons good behaviour, goes so far as to be not only choosy, but also rude. Moreover,

    Aston keeps dreaming of building a shed in the garden, which turns out to be no more than a

    pipedream. Davies, on the other hand, is another character who is trapped in his own dream that

    consists in going to Sidcup and retrieving his identity papers. Nevertheless, he appears too lazy toassume any such responsibility for taking this journey. Deception of others is clearly noticed in his

    behaviour with the two brothers. For instance, when Mick suggests that he might have been in the

    services, and even the colonies, Davies retorts: I was over there. I was one of the first over there.

    Mick also holds his own dream that consists in getting a successful career, which remains

    unachievable because of the responsibility he has to take in order to care for his mentally challenged


    Language reflects much of the characters loss in a world devoid of meaning. Non-sequiturs,

    meaningless clichs, silence and ellipsis prove the inability of the characters to communicate

    anything substantive or make a human connection. Consequently, language is inadequate to be used

    as a means of communication. Characters are also stuck in repetition and feel unable to express

    themselves properly; in act two, scene one, Mick knocks Davies down and keeps repeating the same

    questions about his name, where he slept, and whether he slept well, for three times. Wordplay adds

    to the characters state of loss and ambivalence. Indeed, when Mick admits that his brother, Aston,

    is a slow worker, and asks Davies for advice, the latter says that Aston is a funny bloke. The

    word funny here bears a double-meaning; either amusing or odd.

    Apart from language, the plot is highly affected by the absurdity of the events. Since the

    characters are stuck in an absurd repetition of almost the same gestures, utterances and events, the

    plot doesnt undergo any development leading to a change in the story line. Indeed, the play finishes

    with none of the characters dreams fulfilled; Astons shed is built but only in his imagination,Micks ambition for a successful career remains a mere far-fetched dream, and Davies decision to

    go to Sidcup and restore his papers is continuously postponed under the pretext of bad weather.

    Moreover, there is a menacing mysterious force that compels the characters to keep cautious all the

    time even from each other, hence to discourage them from having their dreams fulfilled. For

    instance, by wielding a knife on Mick, Davies shows a feeling of insecurity from the former,

    regardless of being the owner of the home he takes shelter in.

    To wrap up, by abandoning rational devices and discursive thought, characters in this play show

    their inability to use language effectively and to establish a human connection. As a result, their

    speeches come full of clichs, ellipsis and repetition, which deeply influence the plot and make of it

    cyclical and meaningless.


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