The Birthday Party(1958)


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An Absurd Drama,
Pinteresque's Feature,
Comedy of Menace.

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The Birthday Party(1958)

  1. 1. The Birthday party(1958)<br />Harold Pinter(known as a World War dramatist)<br />Preetiba Jhala<br />
  2. 2. An Absurd Drama<br />A pervasive attitude rather than a system of thoughts.<br />The concept of absurdity defers person to person.<br />The term is applied to many of the works of a group of dramatist of 1950s.<br />What is the meaning of Absurd?<br />According to Ionesco : “Absurd is that which of purpose . . . cut off from his religious metaphysical and transcendental root , man is lost , all his actions become senseless , absurd , useless.”<br />
  3. 3. An Absurd Drama<br />The theatre of Absurd , The theatre of Cruelty(derived from French dramatist Antonin Artaud)<br />Because the theatre of Cruelty is the general notion of exposing the audience to horror.<br />This reveals the threat behind the evasive exchanging of everyday life and to convey tension between people those who think they know each other.<br />
  4. 4. Pinteresque’s features<br />Use of Non-Verbal device(Non-Verbal Communication)<br />Silence and Pause<br />To avoid conversation<br />To show extreme emotional strain<br />As an answer to a rhetorical question(a question for information but to produce effect)<br />To see the effect of what has been said to the interlocutor<br />Dialogues: expose characters alienation from each other , no feelings towards each other.<br />
  5. 5. Pinteresque’s features<br />Deceiving- from it we can’t know the reality of the characters.<br />Character’s talk or chatting- Futile talk , without meaning.<br />Comedy of Menace: Perhaps applied to his early plays “The Room” , “The Birthday Party”.<br />Violence , tension , suspense , terror.<br />Stanley’s struggle: An individual’s imperative need for resistance.<br />Neurotic- is he? Or Neurosis- a reaction against irrationality of existence.<br />
  6. 6. Pinteresque’s features<br />Needless mystery and violence were introduced.<br />Stanley learns two men’s arrival but their arrival remains completely unexplained and surprise<br />Who are they? Don’t know.<br />Goldberg and MaCann: Tow men’s arrival unexpectedly and take the third man (Stanley) away is ‘Abstract’ and ‘Absurd’.<br />
  7. 7. Pinteresque’s features<br />The theme of Absurdity is created by :Contradiction:<br />Little expository information in the play.<br />Contradiction by the characters , therefore one can’t take what they say at first value.<br />Act-I: Stan: I have played the Piano all over the World , (reduces immediately to) all over the Country , (a pause) undercuts both hyperbolic presentation in stating “I once gave a concert”.<br />Contradiction in dialogues.<br />
  8. 8. Pinteresque’s features<br />Dialogues about Stanley’s birthday party , about the house.<br />Because of Contradicted dialogue the identity is shifting<br />The theme of Identity makes the play ambiguous.<br />Goldberg is called Nel but in past he was called Simey and Benny he refers to MaCann both ‘Dermont’ and ‘Seamus’.<br />Actual identity remains unclear.<br />
  9. 9. Pinteresque’s features<br />“We see the destruction of the victim from the victim’s own point of view.” –Arnold P. Hinchilffe<br />Goldberg refers to his job and his family , it seems that he may be the victim of the society.<br />Goldberg and MaCann both faces nervous breakdown , so they are victim of their past.<br />Stanley becomes his victim.<br />May be Stanley will meet his death or will only receive brainwashing.<br />
  10. 10. Pinteresque’s features<br />So the play is the destruction of an individual , the independent voice of an individual.<br />
  11. 11. Comedy of menace<br />Freud’s theory – Jokes and the Relation to the Unconscious<br />According to Freud 3 people are required for the successful teasing of a tendencies or purposeful joke<br />1 who makes the joke<br />2nd who is taken as the object of the hostile or sexual aggressiveness<br />3rd in whom the joke’s aim of producing pleasure is fulfilled<br />
  12. 12. Comedy of menace<br />Jokes – used as theatrical device (events)<br />Purpose to please or impress the audience<br />Joke maker makes the jokes for his pleasure, to create the relationship between someone else<br />The act of telling jokes forces anyone to become the part of the event<br />If they listen, they compromise<br />If laugh, they are with the aggressor <br /> if they refuse to laugh they are with the victim<br />They are not free to do what they want<br />