What is the impact of modernism on Harold Pinter?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A complete answer to such a question would go beyond the allotted space here.  Pinter's place in Western literature is a powerful one and, consistent with Modernism, an attempt to answer the impact of the movement on he and his work can only start the discourse and not end it.  I think that Pinter embraces some of the fundamental elements of modernism.  It should be noted that thinkers like Pinter represent where modernism and its successor, postmodernism, might blend into one another.  What is seen as one can also be seen as the other because, true to Modernism, Pinter was not entirely driven by fitting the prerequisites of an arbitrary label.  I think that one overwhelming theme that can be seen in Pinter's work is how public cruelty finds its way into the private.  Pinter's works are studies in how deliberate cruelty can be present in the internal, and how individuals are not necessarily alienated from the world when they take the form of it.  Modernist thinkers were concerned with how the individual can is trapped between the world and their own sense of self.  Pinter takes this idea and goes to another subterranean level in asserting that the individual takes the form of the cruelty around him.   In this light, the "sensitive person" that Modernism hinges upon has become appropriated by the world around them.  The proverbial monster walks amongst us because we are the monster, and Pinter's works explore this idea.  There is cruelty that is evident in the outside world, and how the individual acts amongst this configuration is of vital importance to the Pinter drama.  Through this, we understand the complete fragmentation of both world and individual.

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