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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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This thesis starts from the assumption that power is not a pre-given fact, but an attribute that has to be acquired and reacquired through a variety of strategies. Power is thus reflected in Harold Pinter’s plays through a multitude of ritualistic games and confrontations of wills. The characters embark on such battles animated by the urgent desire to impose and maintain the authority of their fabricated universe, while negating the access of all others to their most intimate and obscure facets. Power is equivalent to depriving others of their own freedom of manifestation and, thus, to delegitimizing other structures and values of living which make Harold Pinter’s characters play, with no intention of reciprocity, on the borders of the linguistic, spatial, narrative and gender configurations.

The first chapter, entitled “A Preliminary Analysis of Harold Pinter’s Dramatic Technique” (1.1 Breaking the Realistic Convention; 1.2 Surveying Power through Multi-layered Games. The Complicity of Language, Narration, Space and Gender Constructions), investigates the distinctive features of the dramatic technique Harold Pinter employs in his plays, starting from the playwright’s ingenious strategy of crossing over the commonly accepted conventions of Post-World War II English drama, while simultaneously choosing to operate within their comfortable and secure framework.

The kitchen-sink domestic realism which developed the mid-1950s British drama is well reflected in Harold Pinter’s dramatic work, whose stage settings, characters and speech patterns powerfully reproduce a recognizable social context. On the other hand, against the obscure side of a psychologically motivated...

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