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Ocr As Level English Literature Unit F662 Task 1: Close Reading ‘The Homecoming’ By Harold Pinter Explore How Pinter Presents The Struggle For Po

1208 words - 5 pages

The struggle for power between characters is pivotal to The Homecoming, nowhere more so than in this extract, where Ruth meets her brother-in-law Lenny. Throughout, Pinter portrays a glass of water as a symbol of sexual and physical dominance, and this begins when Lenny offers to take the glass saying, “Excuse me” and “shall I”. “Me” and “I” suggest that although Lenny is asking Ruth a question, he focuses on himself and his dominance. A further demonstration of this is the repetition of “in my opinion”. “My” shows that he thinks his views are superior to hers, while the possessive pronoun suggests his need to be in control. These firm remarks are reflected in the short stage directions, ...view middle of the document...

She calls Lenny “Leonard”, his mother’s name for him, which immediately casts Ruth in a maternal light in Lenny’s eyes. He “pauses”, showing how this comment has left him lost for words, which are the source of his power. The line “Don’t call me that, please.” is significant because “please,” suggests desperation and supplication, revealing a vulnerability in Lenny.

In contrast to her maternal tendencies, Ruth propositions Lenny, saying, “If you take the glass... I’ll take you”. The ellipses show how the sharp Ruth is pausing for dramatic effect and mark a trivial conversation becoming loaded with sexual tension. It should be noted how Ruth rarely pauses after Lenny speaks, showing her quick wit, whereas he pauses many times,. The personal pronouns “me”, “you” and “I” here show how both characters are focused on their own power. The imperative “take” is forceful and constantly used throughout this extract, showing the battle between the two individuals. Lenny replies to Ruth’s proposal with “You’re joking”. “Joking,” suggests that he thinks Ruth’s offer is a triviality and is in utter disbelief. He reacts by shouting “What are you doing, making me some kind of proposal?”. “Shouting” shows his anger and frustration at Ruth and echoes when the prostitute Lenny mentioned to Ruth earlier also “had a certain proposal”. Pinter stresses the links between the two women by repeating this line twice. This and the ambiguity of “a certain proposal” may be alluding to Ruth’s past as a prostitute, or could indicate that Lenny has assumptions about the motives of all women he encounters and assumes they have the same intentions.

As mother figure and object of desire Ruth uses physical language both maternally and sexually. “Sit on my lap” could be seen as motherly, and bears reminiscence to the final tableau of the play, where Joey’s head is in Ruth’s lap. However, her next order is the domineering “Put back your head and open your mouth” and the images of a “mouth” and later “throat” are overtly sexual. In response Lenny says, “Take that glass away from me” which is a direct contradiction of his earlier line “Give me the glass”. “Take” and “Give” are forceful and assertive words that show the urgency of Lenny wanting to regain power. In this way Ruth has changed the meaning of the glass from inanimate object to sexual metaphor, confusing Lenny about what he wants.

Pinter shows how Ruth overpowers the physically orientated...

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