Examine Pinter's portrayal of a violent working class in The Homecoming, with specific reference to Lenny's monologues and the use of animal imagery in the drama. How are these ideas reflective of...

Examine Pinter's portrayal of a violent working class in The Homecoming, with specific reference to Lenny's monologues and the use of animal imagery in the drama. How are these ideas reflective of the magnifying glass effect in the drama?

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

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Violence is an essential part of the world that Pinter depicts in The Homecoming. Violence is shown to be a means by which control is obtained, and essential to the structure of the family. The men in the family use violence in their professional realms.  This is how they interact with others domestically.  Violence becomes a way in which the men are able to display their masculinity.  Emotional and physical violence establish order and embody the exercise of power. Each character uses violence as a means of control. Joey's boxing is the most obvious use of violence, a professional being where force is used to submit is the same elements in how he relates to Ruth. Verbal violence such as calling her a "tart" and then physical force in trying to "go all the way" with her is a reflection of this.  Max's violence as a butcher, someone who forcefully dismembers, can be paralleled to how he uses verbal violence in the forms of put downs and insults.  His professional aspect of physical violence is mirrored personally in how he strikes Sam to maintain his control as the patriarch of the family. Max's past with Macgregor as "two of the worst hated men in the West End" is also reflective of his violent streak, a way to maintain control over others.

Lenny uses violence in the manner of his story telling, indicative of control, and meant to intimidate Ruth.  His story of violence is meant to subdue Ruth and also assert his control over her. He uses a form of verbal violence to reflect how much power he has and could exert, if he wished to do so.  When she inverts this with the glass of water, it is a way to counter violence with an exertion of power on her own.  In another monologue when Lenny speaks to Teddy about taking the cheese roll, there is violence featured in its emotionally challenging quality. He wishes to challenge Teddy about being "sulky" and the "unequivocal" nature of Teddy's actions.  Violence is seen in how Lenny wishes to claim power over Teddy.  When Teddy speaks of his "occupation," it is another reference to violence, and its manifestation in the professional and personal realms. As he is a low level pimp, Teddy's professional being is using violence and intimidation as a way to control others.  What Teddy does in the professional world is how he interacts with those in the personal one.

For the family, violence is the means by which they interact with the world.  Pinter uses their embrace of violence operates as a magnifying glass in their daily professional and personal lives.  It emphasizes the world in which they live, one predicated in violence and control over another. It makes visible the way in which people interact with one another. In the working class setting, power is forceful exertion.  It becomes the construction of domestic and professional reality. Like the relationship between human beings and animals, it is one of submission and control.  A magnifying glass can be applied to the animals that the men control, such as horses at the track, or the creatures that Max used to disembowel, to reflect how the men interact with each other, and how Ruth is able to enter and control this situation herself.  Violence and power go hand in hand, as control is exerted as a force of being.  Submission and control are the results of this emotional endgame.

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