The IUP Journal of English Studies
The Real and the Absurd in Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter

Article Details
Pub. Date : June, 2020
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES100620
Author Name : Zeeshan Ali
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 08



This paper analyzes the amalgamation of absurdism and realism in Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter. The Dumb Waiter is the last of three earliest plays by Pinter that possesses the traits of the Theatre of the Absurd. The play projects the life of two hired killers during one of their missions and is highly flavored with realistic essence, which is mostly in contradiction with the principles of the Theatre of the Absurd. But due to the amalgam of absurdism and realism in Pinter's oeuvre, finding the realistic streaks in his works is not a tough task. Behind the thick layer of absurdity in The Dumb Waiter, the real characters with internal fears depict the pathetic status of a powerless man in a menacing atmosphere. The characters' futile struggle to protect themselves from their powerful master is rendered realistically.


Harold Pinter belongs to the postwar generation of playwrights who rejected the established dramatic values and believed in presenting a new outlook on the society. When Pinter entered the scene, schools such as Working-class drama, Kitchen-sink drama, Angry-young dramatic school, and the Theatre of the Absurd were popular. Of these schools, the Theatre of the Absurd was the most powerful before the 1950s. It originated in France and then came to England. Pinter's work can be divided into three phases, viz., Early Plays (1957-1968), Middle Plays (1968-1982), and Later Plays (1980-2000), which are also called Comedies of Menace, Memory Plays, and Overtly Political Plays, respectively. His early plays deal with the themes of menace and absurdity, the middle plays focus on the unreliability of memory and concern for the past, and the later plays overtly emphasize the political elements which are covertly present in his earlier plays.


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