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What are some themes and character sketches in The Caretaker?

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sawaira | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 10, 2010 at 2:04 AM via web

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What are some themes and character sketches in The Caretaker?

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 28, 2010 at 5:13 AM (Answer #1)

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The Caretaker is an early play by Harold Pinter. It is often termed a comedy of menace. Pinter himself referred to the tragi-comic character of the play when he said that the play was funny up to a point, beyond which it stopped being funny.It was for that beyond the point that Pinter wrote it.

The themes in the play are trampishness, displacement, identity dislocation, breakdown of communication, problematic of meaning in both metaphysical and political terms, fluidity of the self, arbitrariness of the human condition, the interplay of the interior and the exterior, madness and its violent social othering, psychic disintegration, failure of memory, a search for an anchor-point of identity, constantly subversive and topsy-turvy power equations and so on.

Davies is the hapless tramp looking for his the traces of his lost identity, brought in late at night by one of the two brothers Aston. Mick and Aston own the house and they both in turn offer Davies the designation of the caretaker but in the final run, they both turn back on their words and poor old Davies has nothing to fall back upon. The potential certitude of the identity anchor-point vanishes in an irrational betrayal where menace is located and the world remains a contingent order where the self is hardly taken care of.

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