The Homecoming Essay Example
The Homecoming Essay Example

The Homecoming Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 6 (1549 words)
  • Published: December 26, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Critics often hold different views on the play, and while some critics regard the examination of power as posing a feminist viewpoint by the end of the play, others would argue that the world of the play is profoundly misogynistic and rooted in a male fantasy of women as saints or sinners, Madonna's or tarts, mothers or whores...Martin Esslin believes that the play is indeed misogynistic and fixed in oedipal fantasy, but others such as Billington and Walker take a very different stance.

These critics argue that Ruth is, in fact portrayed as the most powerful character, and through her actions is making a bold, feminist statement.Pinter paints a portrait of a male household, in the total absence of women and illustrates the effect that a woman has on that environment. He demonstrates how the male characters are torn bet


ween idealisation and vilification of the female sex, consciously exposing the whole mother-whore dichotomy. Pinter's play works on two levels, on a realistic level that reflects a socially accurate study of an all male and predatory family structure, but also on a metaphorical level that challenges the stereotypical role of women and male dictatorship.

Ruth's rise to power and triumph is the main part of the play containing and addressing the feminist view point of suppression in society and the need for change. On first reading it appears that Ruth is a hapless victim in the play conforming to the traditions and rules set down by the literacy establishment and society, however when looking closely at aspects of the play it becomes apparent that she is in control and manipulating her surroundings. This dual side of Ruth's

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

character works on two levels as does the play, the primary part of her attributes is that of a self confident and strong woman able to deal with the onslaught of the men in the family. Her secondary role seems to be that of change and challenge as her character does not coexist in the misogynistic world of The Homecoming or conform to social conventions of the time.Ruth possesses a masculine power within the realms of a woman and Pinter expresses this with precision language and the abrupt actions and expression that Ruth uses.

For instance it is Ruth who abruptly terminates the clinch with Joey and announces 'I'd like something to eat'. Ruth also peremptorily demands a drink of whisky that is traditionally considered a masculine drink and then when it is poured into a delicate glass she request a tumbler. This conveys to the audience the feminist message of a woman's right to be treated as a male equivalent and equal, rather than a delicate and emotional creature that needs male support to survive, but also reveals the misogynistic stance on women as a stark contrast.Yet alternatively, her actions could be considered as ironic because Ruth depicts feminine power and control in a situation that is parallel to the misogynistic view of women as objects and possessions that serve a purpose.

She becomes the masculine figure with authority using Joey highlighting the irony of the situation with the stereotypical role reversal followed by her demands. This could be said to support the view that The Homecoming is rooted in misogynistic circumstances and focus that reflect predominately in the language.When Ruth does speak it

is often to disruptive effect, critic Deborah A. Sarbin states: 'that she functions in the play as a disruptive force.' For instance when Lenny tries to draw Teddy into philosophical debate, she instantly alters the enquiry from the metaphysical to the material.

Ruth to take pleasure in flouting the argument the impact of her comments are heightened by the sensual and sexual references to 'lips', 'legs' and 'underwear' to show a shift in the authority and dynamism of Ruth's comments.Her self assured confidence and forceful nature show signs of independence, her equality in aspects of conversation and events, such as the philosophical and entrepreneurial business theory. For instance 'You would have to regard your original outlay simply as a capital investment' Reflect the feminist belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes conforming to the view that The Homecoming is indeed a feminist play.Critics debate whether the play is truly feminist on the basic principle that Ruth follows the men's wishes and ventures into prostitution. Feminists would consider this a choice made by Ruth as it catered to her needs and gave her economic stability, but misogynists would view this differently and as a sign of male dominance and not female manipulation. The misogynistic and totalitarian themes are strong in the first Act portraying Lenny as the dominant figure who displays his derogatory view of women.

When Ruth enters the play he attempts to impress her, but also stamp's his authority on the situation.Lenny: ...So I gave her another belt in the nose and a couple of turns of the boot and sort of left it at that.

Ruth: How did you know

she was diseased?Lenny: How did I know?Lenny: I decided she was.The reference to violence illustrates the treatment of women and their status, which reinforces the view that The Homecoming is misogynistic expressing the suppression in society. I believe Ruth's comment 'How did you know she was diseased?' changes the focus of the dialogue from misogynist vulgarity to feminine prominence, Ruth does not appear shocked or uncomfortable by the events that Lenny has told of. Unusually Pinter doesn't add a pause or silence after Lenny's long monologue, but presents Ruth asking questions as soon as he has finished his imposing speech. I believe that this is the first real point at which the underlying feminist subject matter becomes apparent, as Pinter deliberately reframes from using a pause or silence to emphasise Ruth's supremacy and foreshadow her rise to a form of social, economic, and political authority and in certain aspects equality, but she does not achieve equality overall.The fixation and idealisation that the male characters associate with Ruth allow her to deploy her sexuality to gain power and territory.

This is shown by stage directions throughout the play and reflects the expanding control that Ruth has over the men. Pinter deploys this technique when Ruth enters the play on page 28 'stands, then slowly walks across the room' suggesting that she is laying claim to her new found space.At the end of the play Pinter repeats the same method on pages 136-138, which demonstrates the obvious admiration Joey has for Ruth expressing his yearning for a woman and her various qualities acquiescent with the misogynistic view of the play where women are objects of possession and

desire.While contrastingly the final act also portrays the power and position of Ruth expressing the feminist view that women are as capable as men and can posses the same characteristics.

The play finishes with Max kneeling at Ruth's feet groaning, his body sagging and the realisation that his position in the family has become redundant. The feminine authority and control in the play combined with the depth to the feminine character suggest to a large extent that the play is of feminist focus and build up, however the misogynistic roots of the situation and the language used is always apparent creating a sardonic irony. The feminist statements that arise are valid and complex, but when scrutinized the underlying misogynistic elements begin to breakdown the strength of the feminist action, response or progress.As I have examined Ruth's actions compare with the male characters misogynistic approach leading me to conclude that The Homecoming is not a feminist play, but a portrayal of society that reflects both positions and highlights the totalitarian structure of the family in the 1960's. It is true that the play examines and conveys the key points of the feminist argument as Ruth does fore fill her feminine desire to be in control of her life with authority and power whilst gaining economic stability. Yet she does not obtain the equality that is the key to feminist ideology on a political and more importantly a social front.

She gains a false sense of this due to misogynistic setting that she is part of and reflects the way in which she goes about obtaining power and achieving her goals within a corrupt family and society.Although

The Homecoming is now a highly regarded work by a writer rated as one of the most important dramatists of the late twentieth century, in the early 1960's Pinter's work was considered challenging and perplexing. His adoption of many of the traditional conventions within society, such as the domestic setting of the sitting room in The Homecoming and seemingly realistic dialogue between recognisable characters, which transform the apparently familiar into something unexpected shocked many audiences in the 1960's. Due to the recognisable and familiar structure of the family in the play and the unexpected and absurd happenings of a woman entering the structure and being put on the game was thought to be outrageous. The developing range of social concepts and attitudes combining to finish in the success of a woman attaining a sense of freedom, authority and equality stunned audiences.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds