The Silence and Violence of Language
Pinter’s work is to a great extent influenced by Samuel Beckett. who used silence-filled intermissions for a radical theatrical consequence. Pinter has spoken of address as a ploy designed to cover the nudity of silence. and these purposes are frequently apparent in the duologue of Gus and Ben. Ben’s most outstanding response to Gus’s changeless inquiries about the nature of their occupations is silence. Lurking underneath this silence is ever the menace of force. the expectancy of something deathly—the drama ends as Ben trains his gun on Gus in silence.
Gus’s inquiries and Lamentationss are besides deflected. delayed. or interrupted. Ben often changes the conversation and ne’er answers with any emotional deepness to Gus’s more inquisitory inquiries. In the same manner. they both avoid discoursing with any reconditeness the newspaper articles about decease. jumping past them to more fiddling affairs. such as the malfunctioning lavatory. Ben sometimes delays his response until they are interrupted—by the sound of an inanimate object. such as the lavatory ( which flushes on a hold ) and the dense server.
The linguistic communication itself is besides tinged with force. particularly when the subject is something apparently fiddling. The men’s statement over the phrase “Light the kettle” is filled with Ben’s barbs that intimidate and shame Gus. Furthermore. when Ben screams “The Kettle. You Fool! ” and choking coils Gus. one gets the feeling that his words are intertwined with the act of physical force. In a sense. the looming presence of Wilson is the most ascendant silence in the drama.
Assuming Wilson is the one directing the work forces messages through the dense server and the speech production tubing ( and Gus does state at one point that sometimes Wilson lone sends messages ) . so the audience ne’er gets a opportunity to hear him. but merely hears him through a secondary mouthpiece as the work forces read or reiterate his orders. His mysteriousness is one of the more baleful constituents of the drama. for Wilson seems to be everyplace through his multi- tiered organisation.
He performs an off-stage function similar to that of Godot in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. but whereas Godot symbolizes a impersonal god-like figure for whom the characters wait. Wilson is a malevolent God whom the characters wait for in violent silence. Anxiety Over Social Class Gus and Ben are both low-class felons. and most productions of the drama stress their societal position with appropriate idioms and speech patterns. Some productions may even choose to give Ben a somewhat superior speech pattern. as he is more concerned with his standing.
He repeatedly admonishes Gus for his “slack” visual aspect and wonts. pressing him to do himself more presentable. but Ben besides seems more resigned to his lowly condemnable life ; he considers them fortunate for holding occupations. His profound shame over his category emerges in interactions with those upstairs via the dense server. and much of this shame is tied to linguistic communication. The nutrient orders from the dense server are for progressively alien nutrients with unfamiliar names. and Ben pretends to cognize how to do them merely to a point.
When they decide to direct up their cache of nutrient. even Gus feels he has to affect those upstairs by denoting the trade name names of their prosaic groceries. Ben besides merrily reports that the adult male upstairs. presumptively of higher societal standing. uses the same debated phrase—”Light the kettle”—as he does. and he warns Gus to detect decorousness when speaking to the upstairs. as he demonstrates with his formal apology.
Ben is far more reverent of Wilson than the inquiring Gus. and his respect is attributed less to feelings of regard than to an overruling lower status composite ; Wilson is their leader for a ground. and he must obey him at all costs. even if it means bewraying his friend. In this visible radiation. The Dumb Waiter can be read as an anti-corporate update of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. an fable of in- combat and what corporate workers will make to delight their higher-ups. Motifs Repetition At the play’s start and terminal. Ben expresses indignation at an article in the newspaper while Gus sympathizes.
Similar repeats mark the action throughout the drama. Early on. Gus bemoans the dull sleep-and-work modus operandi of his life. and assorted insistent actions—from Gus’s inclination to run out lucifers to his repeating trips to the bathroom—emerge as the footing of this cyclical weariness. Language. nevertheless. is where Pinter’s usage of repeat points to force and the closeness of decease.
Gus about ever has to reiterate and paraphrase his of import inquiries to Ben. inquiries that touch upon darker issues Ben does non wish to uncover. Ben’s mechanical nstructions to Gus on how to put to death their slaying are repeated by Gus with similar withdrawal. and when Ben echoes through the speech production tube his ain mission to kill Gus. it similarly echoes the old interaction with Gus. Pinter has compared reverberations to hush. and if one views the silences in his dramas as indicants of force. so lingual reverberations and insistent actions suggest force every bit good. Symbols The dense server The dense server serves as a symbol for the broken. nonreversible communicating between Gus and Ben.
If messages are to be sent via the dense server. so merely one individual at a clip can direct them. and one can non at the same time speak and listen through the dense waiter’s talking tubing. Correspondingly. Gus and Ben ne’er have a to the full unfastened dialogue—minimized even more by Ben’s cognition of his impending treachery of Gus—and whenever Gus tries to convey up something emotional. Ben refuses to talk with him. This disjunction is the kernel of their relationship. They do non talk with. but to each other. They are like the dense waiter—mute bearers of information. non partakers of it.
Furthermore. Ben. particularly. is manipulated by Wilson in the same manner that the dense server is controlled by its system of blocks. Separate One: Beginning Until The Envelope Summary The scene is a cellar with two beds. a serving hatch. a kitchen and bathroom to the left. and another transition to the right. In silence. Ben reads a newspaper on his bed while Gus ties his shoe laces on his bed. Gus coatings and walks to the kitchen door. so stops and agitate his pes. Ben watches as Gus takes a planate matchbox out of his shoe.
After he and Ben exchange a glimpse. Gus puts it in his pocket. From his other shoe. he takes out a planate coffin nail carton. They exchange another expression. and Gus puts the carton in his pocket before he leaves for the bathroom. There’s a sound of the lavatory concatenation being pulled without it blushing. and Gus returns. Ben angrily relates to Gus a newspaper article. which reports on an aged adult male who tried to traverse a busy street by creeping under a truck. which so ran over him. Gus agrees that it is detestable. Gus once more tries to blush the lavatory. but it doesn’t work. When he returns. Ben orders him to do tea.
Gus admires the crockery. He asks Ben for a coffin nail. and hopes. “it won’t be a long occupation. ” He remembers he wanted to inquire Ben something. but is interrupted by Ben who reports on an article about a kid killing a cat. Gus so asks if Ben has noticed how long it takes for the lavatory armored combat vehicle to make full. Ben suggests that it is a “deficient ball cock. ” Gus complains that he didn’t sleep good on the bed and so sees a image on the wall of cricket participants entitled “The First Eleven. ” Neither he nor Ben knows that the “first eleven” refers to a school’s top cricket participants.
He wishes for a window in the room and plaints that his life revolves around come ining a dark room he’s ne’er seen earlier. kiping all twenty-four hours. making a occupation. and so go forthing at dark. Ben tells him that they are fortunate to be employed merely one time a hebdomad and Tells Gus his job is a deficiency of involvements. Ben. for illustration. has woodwork and theoretical account boats. and ne’er corsets idle. Gus asks if Ben of all time gets fed up. but they shortly fall soundless. The lavatory eventually flowers. which Gus remarks on before farther knocking the cellar. Ben commands him to do tea. as they will be “on the job” really shortly.
As Gus takes out a tea bag and examines it. he asks Gus why he stopped the auto that forenoon in the center of the route. Ben says that they were early. Gus asks if they were excessively early to travel in. which explains why the sheets seemed soiled to him. Gus has forgotten what town they are in and Ben tells him that they are in Birmingham. Gus says that it is an industrial metropolis. the second-biggest metropolis in Great Britain. Gus wants to watch the Birmingham association football squad tomorrow ( Saturday ) . but Ben says that there is no clip and that they have to acquire back. even though they used to remain over after a occupation.
Gus speaks about a Birmingham game they one time saw together. but Ben refutes the inside informations that Gus remembers. An envelope slides under the door. Analysis The influence of Irish dramatist Samuel Beckett on Harold Pinter is evident in this drama. and legion similarities and allusions to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot harvest up in this subdivision. As with Godot. there are two characters. one dominant. one submissive. who portion the sum of letters and syllables in their names ( although Pinter’s Gus and Ben are simpler names—and simpler characters—than Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon ) .
Gus’s trouble in seting on his shoe corresponds to a similar job with a boot in Beckett’s drama. In both dramas. furthermore. the characters have been stranded in one topographic point with an ill-defined intent. at least from the audience’s position. The individual location is a basic of Pinter’s other dramas. every bit good. Pinter’s usage of repeat and silence besides harkens back to Beckett’s work. Beckett’s primary usage of these is to propose the thoughts of disaffection and the attack of decease. but Pinter manners them with a more sinister. violent touch. Pinter has said that silence is a signifier of nudity. and that address is an effort to cover this nudity.
Gus keeps desiring to inquire Ben something but is interrupted. an exchange that will reiterate throughout the drama. The duologue in between is frequently Ben’s effort to detain replying Gus’s question—here. a fiddling affair about the lavatory. Ben besides uses silence to debar the potency for more intimate probing from Gus. Not merely are Ben’s holds and breaks a signifier of silence. but even they are interrupted—Ben’s studies of the decease of the aged adult male and the cat. serious affairs of mortality. are rapidly aborted in favour of more everyday concerns. The work forces do non interrupt the silence themselves normally.
Rather. the sound of an inanimate object—the toilet—jolts them back into treatment. The lavatory serves as a base for Gus throughout the drama. It represents repeat. and the futility of repeat. Like the jerky duologue. the lavatory works on a delay—the flower is preceded by a long pause—solidifying the impression that repeat effects small alteration. Just as Gus transfers the planate matchbox and carton ( both faulty objects ) from his places to his pocket—one receptacle to another—the receptacle of the faulty lavatory transportations human waste to the receptacle of the cloacas.
The waste. nevertheless. does non vanish ; it will return in some signifier. and is portion of the cyclical nature of life that bores Gus. the dull repeat of work and slumber. The characters’ complete separation from the upper category is besides introduced and will be explored in farther deepness subsequently. Their strangeness with the featuring footings of posh cricket and their fondness for the more propertyless game of association football instantly defines their societal standing.