The caretaker

The caretaker

The author:

Harold Pinter was born on the 10thOctober 1930 in Hackney/London. He’s one of the most famous English playwrights; his dramas emphasize a sense of unspoken or unexplained tensions between special characters; they often treat themes like loneliness, existential fear, and aimlessness. In his plays Pinter tries to connect absurd, realistic and psychological elements. In his early plays Pinter shows ordinary people threatened or attacked by mysterious forces; that’s why these works are often called "comedies of menace". In the 80’s he turned to political subjects and attacked totalitarian governments.
His most famous works: "The Birthday Party" (1958), "The Dumb Waiter" (1957), "The Caretaker" (1960), "No Man’s Land" (1975) and "One for the Road" (1984).

The characters:

    Aston: He’s a young man and a little bit weird man; he loves working with his hands and seems to be quite good - natured or even a little bit naive. His character bears the stamp of his dark past. Mick: He’s a really strange person; at the beginning he tortures Davies psychically; when he talks to him, he always repeats uninteresting things, talks about his family and compares him to his uncle and a bloke he once knew. He doesn’t shrink back from insulting Davies, he plays Davies off Aston and often twists his words. Davies: He’s arrogant and very racist, he especially discriminates against blacks. He likes smoking his pipe, never smokes cigarettes, never dreams, and never makes noises at night (when Aston asks him why he did make noises during the night, Davies tells him that these nasty noises must have been made by blacks from the neighborhood). He doesn’t want to talk about his past, he doesn’t even tell where he’s from, but divulges, that he once lived under the wrong name of Bernard Jenkins. He seems to be nosey and distrustful, when he is alone, he examines the rooms of the others, but he’s also easily afraid.

The plot:

Aston allows Davies, who wants to get back his papers from a mysterious man who lives in Sidcup; to live in his room for some time. Davies puts this offer to good use, talks with Aston about irrelevant stuff, but also hears about the sad past of Aston, who - like Davies later tells Mick, the brother of Aston - isn’t a real friend of his: This withdrawn young man once lived - or rather had to live - in a psychiatric clinic and was discharged after an electroshock treatment. Now he lives in his brother’s dilapidated house in order to renovate it. Mick seems to be jealous of the new "friend" of his brother, and so he asks Davies to work as a caretaker in his house. Davies places confidence in Mick, who also criticizes his brother, and tries to conspire with him against Aston and he even goes for him - but in the end is dropped by both of them.

The interpretation:

Harold Pinter tries to describe the problem of human communication (Aston), but also shows the attitudes and problems of an average chap (Davies) with his racist, authoritarian, but sometimes also subservient character and his social prejudices. The language demonstrates various character traits and reveals subtle battles of words.

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