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What is the function of the birthday present in Pinter's "The Birthday Party"?

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abhisek | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 23, 2010 at 1:40 AM via web

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What is the function of the birthday present in Pinter's "The Birthday Party"?

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted July 2, 2010 at 6:25 PM (Answer #1)

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The birthday in Harold Pinter's play The Birthday Party is a rather ironic motif. It has within it, an existentialist or absurdist idea of a menaced birth and a Beckettian collapsing of the categories of birth and death, the womb and the tomb coming together, as it were.

In case of Stanley, what is of foremost importance is that it is not his birthday. It is thrust on him as an occasion. This highlights the contingency of birth itself. Then as the play progresses, the birthday celebration is a sardonic form of torture with Goldberg and McCann leading from the front. As the conclusion of the play, Stanley is indeed reborn. He gets a new birth, but at the cost of his identity. He is brainwashed, neuroticized and made into this puppet at the end, when he is taken to Monty, some sort of a doctor, as it is implied, to a madhouse.

As far as the birthday present is concerned, Lulu's presence, Meg's great speech and the cake all contribute to the atmosphere. The blind man's buff as a game builds the dramatic suspense of the occasion, leading to the rather ambivalent breakdown of Stanley.

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xxxyyy | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:07 PM (Answer #2)

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the birthday present is a drum. it negates the status of stanley as a pianist.had it been a piano it would have symbolised stanley's artistic rebirth.further it serves to reveal the menace within

stanley"s mind through his erratic play of the drum.it may symbolise his prenatal existence and the rebirth is possible only after the rapture of the drum

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