Please comment on the relationships between men and women in in 'Birthday Party'.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Man-woman relationship in Pinter is a complex issue that hovers in between affection, lust and the inner violence of the micro-political world of a family. Pinter often merges the archetypes of the Mother and the Whore in his feminine portraits e.g. Ruth in The Homecoming.

In Birthday Party, the most significant man-woman relationships are between Meg and Petey, the husband and the wife and between Meg and Stanley, their tenant. There is Lulu, a young prostitute, who has sexual flirtations with Stanley and even Goldberg later on.

Meg and Petey share a very normal kind of a husband-wife bond with Meg as the domestic 'caretaker' and Petey as the rather reticent work-loving husband. Meg is an old woman who desperately wants to be loved, in a youthful way, almost. Her relation with Stanley is crucial to the play as it merges the mother-daughter relation with a latent erotic encounter, in an Oedipal manner. Stanley's use of the word 'succulent' and Meg's horrific response to it is a witness to this. It is a typical love-hate relation, they share and in their menacing exchanges, the power-rhetoric keeps shifting.

Lulu plays the role of a young vibrant girl, who seems to go after Stanley in the beginning but he is hardly interested. Later on, in the party, Stanley supposedly rapes her, though this seems to be an allegation put against him by the tormenting duo of Goldberg and Maccan. Lulu's sexual intimacy with Goldberg is another case in point. Is she just a stooge? Her crying exit leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Pinter, overall, portrays deceptively smooth going and internally disturbed relation of the sexes in Birthday Party and tends towards a Lacanian vision of sexual non-rapport as it were.

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