What is the nature of love in the play Betrayal by Harold Pinter?

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On one level, Betrayal can be thought of as a love story. Love is at the center of the various adulterous relationships that take place throughout the play, even though such illicit liaisons involve lies, deceit, and, of course, betrayal. Yet it's a distorted kind of love, love that is ultimately based on narcissism. In the many tangled relationships on display, love for the beloved is an expression of the felt emotional needs of the lover, primarily arising from a fear of loneliness and its corresponding autonomy.

Pinter's disruption of the linear time-frame in which such events occur—the drama unfolds in reverse—adds to the sense that there is something more complex about love and the relationships to which it gives rise and that this complexity cannot adequately be captured by a conventional narrative structure with a precise beginning and end.

An interesting paradox arises from Pinter's treatment of the love theme in that love arises among the three characters on stage as a result of betrayal and yet is, by the same token, vulnerable to further such acts. What was created by betrayal, and sustained by betrayal, is also prone to being destroyed by betrayal. On this reading, betrayal is not the antithesis of love but rather a key component of it.

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