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Compare Family Grudges and Violence in 'the Homecoming' and 'a Streetcar Named Desire'.

  • Date Submitted: 03/06/2011 11:10 AM
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Post-1945 Drama
Family grudges and violence
‘The Homecoming’ is a complex, confrontational and brutal play by Harold Pinter. It belongs to the genre of the theatre of the absurd. The play depicts the suffocating relationship between the tyrannical father Max and his two sons Lenny and Joey, and brother Sam. The arrival of his eldest son Teddy and his wife Ruth unleashes a barrage of family grudges and tension within the household.

Teddy and Ruth are subject to abuse when they return. The language used by Max is coarse and offensive. He describes Ruth in a very derogatory manner, “smelly scrubber” and “pot ridden slut”. Lenny calls his father a “daft prat” which emphasises a distinct lack of respect. The language used is as disturbing and shocking to modern audiences as it would have been to audiences when the play was first published in 1965.

Throughout the play there is violent imagery and language. This represents the power struggles within the household. Max tells Lenny that he will “chop off your spine”, which is emphatic of his dominance. The arrival of Teddy and Ruth as outsiders disrupts the fragile equilibriums of the family. The play is set in a very confined area and this represents security. The introduction of outsiders poses a threat to the family “unit”. Teddy is an outsider as he is intellectual, highly educated and more socially acceptable. The family humiliate him intellectually and socially, which is all part of their battles for dominance. Ruth is the only female in the male dominated household, which makes her an outsider. She plays both the role of mother and whore, although at the end of the play she rejects her role as a mother. Ruth brings out the worst, most vile characteristics of the members of the household. Pinter has used the other characters to vocalise and act out the worst attitudes of human nature, which are normally suppressed or not communicated. He asks the audience to question what lies beneath the surface of...


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