What's the role of gender in Pinter's Silence?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ellen is a strong woman who refuses to be confined in the traditional gender role of the male's object of desire. Although she is the object of desire of the two men in the play, she refuses to be defined by them and she is not passive.The two men cling to her, not the other way round. She takes the decisions regarding the man she wants to stay with and the one she wants to leave. She also refuses to be identified as "emotional" and "sentimental" as some stereotyped view of gender identify women. Critics have noticed how Francis Cuka, the actress who played Ellen in the 1969 Royal Shakespeare Production, kept a flat voice for much of the performance. This acting trait denoted a woman who is almost indifferent to her own and other people's unhappiness. It is important to note that the apparent absence of gender conflict or struggle for power in the play does not make the characters, Ellen included, any happier. As Penelope Prentice argues in The Pinter Ethic (second link below), the play dramatizes the assumption that the lack of conflict may be as destructive as its presence.