Paper –E-C the Modernist Literature
Topic: - Birthday party – Harold printer
Batch: - SEM -III
Submitted to:-Dr.Dilip Barad
Birthday party – Harold printer.
Nobel-prize winning play righter Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, a spine-chilling comic riff on free-floating menace. In his book Pinter describes the “dramatic Painteresque”- “tension and threatened Violence is mediated by irony, humor and literary seriousness, underpinned by an unmistakable readiness to stand and fight if necessary.” It’s an apt description of a writer whose work reflects elements of Modernism and absurdist, along with carefully conceived structure, characters, and remarkably Commercial success. A master of the pause and subtext. PINTER’S gift for portraying by means of dialogue which realistically produces the nuances of colloquial speech and the difficulties of communication has created a style labeled by the rest of us as ‘Painteresque’. His themes are nameless menace, erotic fantasy, obsession and jealousy, family Hatreds and mental disturbance are equally recognizable. He is also famous as a screenwriter, having adapted, among others, The Birthday Party has itself been revived in 1999 in London’s West End.A shabby boarding house is the setting for this story of arguments between past and present and between illusion and reality. Many levels of violence are portrayed, emotional and physical, suppress Stanley is a young man living in a seaside boarding house. He does not work or go out much, and he appears to be hiding from something. One day, two strange men arrive as new Boarders. They are Goldberg, a Jew, and McCann, an Irishman. They appear to know young Stanley. The landlady tells the strangers that it is Stanley’s birthday and the two Men decide, without Stanley's knowledge, to hold birthday Party for him. Have they come to take Stanley back somewhere unknown? To us, or even to "take him out" because he has done something wrong? This birthday party is not your normal, jolly affair. As the Redevelops, there is an ever-increasing air of hidden Menace, all the more chilling, not for what we see, but for what is hidden for.
The Birthday Party opens in the living-dining area of a seedy rooming house at an unnamed seaside resort in England. Petey and Meg Boles, the proprietors, converse while she prepares the breakfast and he reads the newspaper. Their talk is inane, centering ontheirtenant, Stanley Webber. Petey also tells her of two strangers who might come to rent a room.Meg decides to wake Stanley for breakfast and goes to his room. Stubbly and half dressed, Stanley comes downstairs and sits at the table to eat. After Petey goes off to work, Stanley taunt Meg about her "succulent" fried bread, but when she becomes demonstrative, he gets aggravated and protest that her tea is "muck" and the place is a "pigsty."Meg tells Stanley about the two men who may be new. After Petey leaves for work, Meg mentions the likely boarders to Stanley who becomes upset and apprehensive. A neighbor, Lulu, comes to call and tries to convince Stanley to take a walk, but he declines. Just after she leaves, Stanley spots the two men arriving and sneaks out the back door. Meg greets the strangers, Goldberg and McCann. She tells them that it is Stanley’s birthday, but he does not know yet. The wheels are set in motion for a party for him. As the two men settle In, Stanley returns and he and Meg quarrel about whether Goldberg and McCann should stay. Meg attempts to pacify Stanley by giving him his birthday present— a toy drums. He begins playing it hesitantly, but eventually it becomes an erratic, uncontrolled banging.
Themes in this play
What makes an author write is generally the irritation of a wound that cannot be healed. In the case of Pinter, his wounds will always remain in his work, but their source is still available though not fully acceble.Themes are; violence, actual and potential, fear and menace; appearance and illusion; tranquility and chaos; the inability to community; and the urge towards self-probing and the desire for self-definition.
The Element of mystery in Plays.
Pinter’s plays may be described as Thrillers, full of mysteries which are never solved. Hints are dropped deliberately as if they were clues in the mystery, but trail necer leads to a solution.
Language as an instrument of Dramatic action.
He uses Language in a most dramatic way as a vehicle and an instrument of dramatic action. Words become weapons in the mouths of printer’s Characters.
Dialogue as a form of action
Pinter’s characters do not often talk explicitly about a situation. The final scene of the birthday Party is an illustration of this. Here is the concluding bit of dialogue:
Meg. I was the belle of the ball.
Petey. Were you?
Meg. Oh yes. They all said I was.
Petey. I bet you were, too.
Meg. Oh, it’s true. I was.
Meg. I know I was.
Repetition employed by Pinter for various purposes. Through the dialogue we find the ability or inability to communicate.
The comedy of Menace
The Birthday party may be described as a tragedy with a number of comic elements; or we call it a comedy which, however, also produces an overwhelming tragic effect. But the most appropriate label for this play would be” the Comedy of menace.”
Tension; Humor; violence; Ambiguity in the play
The scene of rapid- fire question of Stanley by the two visitors adds greatly to the tension, though there is plenty of humor in the questioning which, therefore, diminishes the grimness of the bullying.
Structural merits of the play
It has been said that The Birthday party has neither a beginning nor an end.
The Birthday Party is full of rambling information that challenge attempts to differentiate between reality and illusion. For example, in spite of the presentation of personal information on Stanley and his two persecutors, who or what they really are remains a mystery. Goldberg, in particular, provides all kind of information about his background, but he offers only slanting clues as to why he has intruded upon Stanley's life.
What has Stanley done to deserve persecution? The facts of his past are so unclear that his claim to be a pianist may even be false. The Birthday Party influences the audience to doubt anything with certainty.
The Birthday Party uses a single setting, the living-dining room of a seaside boarding house somewhere on the coast of England. Its mystery adds to a sense of place as symbol, especially in figurative readings of the play.
The Influence of Hackney on his work
The dialogue between the present and the past (megined or real) runs through Pinter’s work. The past is not only particularized but portrayed in direct speech and from the view-point of the present. His characters indulge in a subtle interweaving of the past with the present, and this reveals the effect which experience has had on their telling of their stories. Seen from the present, thepast reflects the obsession of the present, and the result becomes a strange recreation of events perhaps best forgotten.
The problems of Motivation and identity
And yet Pinter is not a naturalistic dramatist. This is the paradox of his artistic personality. The dialogue and the characters are real but the over-all effective is one of mystery of uncertainty, of ambiguity. The first deviation from the usual realistic play lies in the element of uncertainty about the motivation of the characters, their background, and their very identity.
(1) Who are the two men?
(2) Where did Stanley come from?
(3) Were they all supposed to be normal?
(4) Who are you?
(5) Where did you come from?
The use of “silences” and “pauses” by Pinter
Pinter uses two different terms for the punctuation of his dialogue by passages without speech: “pause” and “silence”. The silences and pauses in his work are simply a part of his creed as a craftsman. When Pinter indicates a “pause” ,he wants us to understand that intense thought-processes are continuing and that unspoken tensions are mounting; and when he indicates a “silence “ ,it is a sign of the end of a movement and the beginning of another, as between the movements of a symphony.
Pinter’s Method of characterization
Pinter’s whole method of characterization differs sharply from the conventional method to which we have been accustomed. For the conventional dramatist, the past histories of the characters are the soil in which the whole plot is planted. For Pinter the past histories of the characters do not matter much. The only facts with which he is concerned are the facts of what is said and done on the stage.
The Women Characters in Play
Pinter is not interested in exploring experience. Basically his vision of the world remains adolescent or childlike. Many of the men in his plays are either dispossessors or disposes and almost all the women are either possessive mother-figures or tarts and, therefore, almost impossible to be possessed.
An emotionally troubled man in his thirties. Paranoid, dark, and very clever.
An attractive, charismatic and charming leader. His past is vague, but he clearly has a dark history, and his presence brings a sense of menace. He is a brilliant manipulator, with a sinister.
Goldberg’s Irish henchman. He’s a bit of a thug, and an imposing figure who serves as the muscle of the operation. Good at what he does, but oddly nervous about it in anticipation.
A working class man in his sixties who owns a boarding house with his wife, Meg. Petey is a deck
Chair attendant at a nearby beach. He is a gentle man.
Petey’s wife. She is sweet, dotty, and deeply and inexplicably attached to Stanley.
Working class neighbor. Pretty, common and extremely vulnerable.
Pinter Views on this play
“I think that the plays like The Birthday Party, the Dumb Waiter and Hothouse are metaphors, really. When you look at them, they’re much closer to an extremely critical look at authoritarian postures—state power, family power, religious power, power used to undermine, if not destroy, the individual, or the questioning voice, or the voice which simply went away from the mainstream and refused to become part of an easily recognizable set of standards and social values.
“What goes on in my plays is realistic, but what I’m doing is not realism.”
This is an entertaining and thought- provoking play with full of mystery and the ambiguity, painteresque features. Inadequate or unreliable information about the characters and a gripping comedy of menace with painteresque quality. Rich in meanings, but without a specific Theme.