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Origins Of Arrested Development In Various Characters From Pinter's "The Birthday Party"

1654 words - 7 pages

The intent of this paper is to make known the origins of arrested development in various characters from Pinter’s The Birthday Party, as well as the role of pain in the process of rebirth. The protagonist, Stanley, arguably suffers the most from arrested development, and his inability to mature in life can be attributed to his comfortable lifestyle and the lack of pain necessary to make him dynamic. Since the characters themselves do not realize that they are shiftless and suffer from arrested development, outside factors are introduced into the boarding house that will serve as catalysts for needed rejuvenation. This paper will incorporate sources from esteemed literary analysts such as Fiero, Taylor, and Rukhaya. This paper will use chronological order extracting from primary and secondary sources. Once Stanley experiences the shredding of his self, he is transformed into somewhat of a machine. McCann and Goldberg use brutal interrogation to rip Stanley apart and are successful by using very clever techniques. By the end of their interrogation, Stanley is “gagging on word fragments.” McCann and Goldberg continually threaten Stanley, which keeps the fear in him and exacerbates his gagging. The choice of diction in the ripping of Stanley is vital to the manipulation of McCann and Goldberg along with the two word-rich litanies. McCann and Goldberg, however, made these words sound like chants, or “dreadful incantations” and used them to completely tear Stanley to pieces. The most important part of their interrogation is pre-birthday and this is everything begins to happen.(Fiero 1)
Poutney here talks about how Goldberg and McCann can be described as pieces of Stanley’s inner self, or “manifestations of Stanley’s strongly-developed sense of guilt and fear of pursuit”(Pountney 1) due to Stanley’s silence. Considering religious backgrounds, Pinter who is Jewish uses his self-knowledge of the Jews into his play of absurdity. The onslaught of words which they crush Stanley, “their vitality and comic vulgarity, the swagger and aggression, and the rhythms of their language have a richness that comes straight out of the Jewish idiom of Pinter's family background as well as the regional influence of London's East End” (Pountney 1). Pinter makes McCann and Goldberg comparable to a Nazi with their use of interrogation and imposing their own thoughts on Stanley. Pinter’s whole idea is to make sure that McCann and Goldberg are portrayed as the enemy, which Pinter does throughout the play by mentioning little things like “what do they have a wheel barrel for?”

Fiero begins to talk about the literal sense of the absurd dialogue. The drum is symbolic of a membrane and in the second act, which Stanley breaks through the drum showing his rebirth. Once Stanley experiences this rebirth, he immediately shows his changed self by choking Meg and pounces on Lulu. The choking of Meg is directly representative of him trying to kill his actual mother, which is excellent...

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