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Multilevel Representations of Power in Harold Pinter's Plays

Alina-Elena Rosca

The study offers an interdisciplinary analysis of Harold Pinter’s dramatic discourse and focuses on the way power makes the characters play on the borders of linguistic, spatial, narrative and gender configurations. It examines the experimental nature of Harold Pinter’s dramatic technique and how he compromises both the realistic and the absurd dramatic formulae. The study also investigates the narrative of the past – a new dramatic technique in Pinter’s Plays, which brings into focus the inner life of the characters without causing any severe disturbance to the realistic conventional formula. It asserts that the narratives of the past become a form of doing, of being anchored in life and of acting in response to it. It also argues that sexuality is constantly submitted to manipulation and that women are more prepared than men to transgress gender constructions.
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In spite of Harold Pinter’s apparent dedication to the realistic convention, this thesis has proposed a more challenging examination of Pinter’s dramatic work starting from the manner in which the complex notion of power contextualizes a different type of research which goes well beyond the conventional approach. Power is strongly related to all the strategies Pinter’s characters appeal to in order to impose their perspectives or delusions as the only legitimate reality. In the active role they take at the level of constructing appropriate faces or masks, characters keep away from facing uncomfortable desires and, thus, from acting in the immediate reality of the present.

The first part of the thesis confirms that Harold Pinter follows the path most of the modernist artists have engaged into and opts to preserve the naturalistic convention and to explore its well-known techniques in order to bring into effect his experiments and views. Contrary to the reproduction of a recognizable social context, the playwright’s revolutionary attempt consists in handling the realistic convention as a profitable smoke screen. This convention becomes a pretext for redirecting attention to and approximating the nature of those disturbing desires and tensions which lie hidden beneath the social mask and the daily rhythms of life.

Although the characters adopt easily recognizable acts of social discourse routine, they are no longer strictly defined by deterministic social elements, such as their milieu or their distinct position in society. Considering the lack of data about their personal...

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