Pinter’s Contexts . The Birthday Party Themes: Power (Thriller, Gangster-speak) Identity Individual struggling against society Prepared by: Shamala Maheswaran. Pinter’s Contexts: Thriller Theatre and The Birthday Party.
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It was Pinter’s first hand experience that formed the background for TBP
His material comes from weekly repertory thriller theatre and farces
Each act ends with a strong climax(Plot Point)
Act 1 Climax: Stanley ‘Shall I put this (drum) around my neck”
Stage directions: She watches him uncertainly…drumbeat now savage and possessed.
Mccann and Goldberg use the routines of interrogative detectives such as trapping victim in a chair and flanking him on either side of the chair, imitating Stanley’s eventual caging at Monty, calling Stanley “Eh Boy’ and disallowing adult speech for Stanley.
Violence and menace formed part of the social landscape of Pinter’s teens. Gangs were a part of the experience of the youth of many parts of Britain’s larger cities. Thus the thuggish behaviour is seen in the gangsters using everyday household objects to threaten Stanley. This iincludes lifting up a chair threateningly, shoving Stanley into a chair and dragging Stanley up the stairs for further ‘fun’
Pinter had ample experience of ‘room as territory’ and he would have been acutely aware of the wider territories claimed by gangsters of 1950s London.
He would have been influenced by 1950’s elements such as USSRs use of electro-shock therapy in mental asylum’s. Hence M and G bring Stanley to ‘Monty’ (a pseudonym for mental institution’ to ‘adjust’ ‘re-orientate’ and ‘integrated’-all suggesting use of drugs, electric shock therapy etc to ‘adjust’ Stanley. The word ‘adjust’ suggests re-making Stanley into an automaton like figure of the state. ‘Integrate’ suggests conformity to state, like little automaton figures all marching smartly for state power.