Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Ben, a hired assassin. A senior partner for an unnamed organization, Ben periodically travels around the country murdering people according to the instructions of his superiors. Throughout these gruesome tasks, Ben acts as a responsible professional, a killer who believes in carrying out his job with precision. As a result, Ben often is irritated by the casual actions of his colleague, Gus. Ben perceives Gus and his questions about their mysterious work as dangerous and potentially as violating authority. Tension between these two characters provides both a comic and a serious tone to the character of Ben. The more Gus inquires about his job, the more hostile Ben becomes. Ben is a proud man, afraid to admit the existence of anything that he does not understand. He enjoys his job and resents any suggestion that he is not fully occupied or satisfied with life, both at work and at home; his home life is complete, with its woodwork and model boats. Ben acts cautiously, and he silently carries out his orders without question. Consequently, he could be the “dumb waiter” referred to in the title of the play. Despite his apparent superiority to Gus, however, Ben is threatened by the possibility of change. For example, the mysterious appearance of matches under the door of their basement room and the descent of a dumbwaiter with orders for food that he cannot provide make Ben nervous because he is not in control of his situation. He tries to avoid...

(The entire section is 541 words.)