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A Study of Menace, Pause and Silence in Harold Pinter’s Early Plays
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Language and Culture. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The particular characteristics of Pinter’s theatre such as the theme of violence, the competitive interpersonal relationships, the implied unwillingness in communication between the characters and the distinctive use of silences and pauses, distinguish his work from the writers of the absurd. Pinter makes particular use of “Silences” and “Pauses” as theatrical techniques that present a non-verbal way of communication in his plays. The frequent use of these particular techniques in Pinter’s dialogue has urged some critics to coin new expressions such as “Pinteresque” or “Pinter Pause” in the vocabulary of drama to specify Pinter’s technique. One of the important objectives in this essay is to point out the fundamental significance and function of the “Silences” and “Pauses” in Pinter’s work and point out their distinction. I will discuss how the silences and pauses function in Pinter’s theatre as a non-verbal way of communication by creating fragments in the dialogue.


The plays which will be analyzed in this essay are: The Room, The Dumb Waiter, The Birthday Party and The Caretaker. My objective in this essay is to explore the context of these plays with regards to the theme of menace. In the first chapter, I mainly aim to explore the menacing context of these plays regarding the structure of menace and the ways it takes place in each play separately. This analysis will be presented in relation to the spatial territory in which the characters are confined. My aim is also to describe why menace is presented in a theatrical sense. I have chosen to quote some significant passages of each play in each section to illustrate my purposes in the first chapter. The aim of the second chapter is to define the character types involved in the presentation of menace, “The Intruders” and “The Victims”, and to analyze the strategies their use in encounters with each other. After describing the character types I will explore in detail how “The Intruders” use linguistic strategies to confuse and subdue their victims and finally victimize them and how “The Victims” use strategies to cope with menace in order to survive. There are some passages quoted from the plays to facilitate the purpose of the second chapter. The objective in the third chapter is to define “Silences” and “Pauses” as theatrical techniques used in form of non-verbal communication between the characters. I will discuss, based on Peter Hall’s definition, how these techniques are significant in understanding a Pinter play for the readers and the actors who perform them on stage, and will further explore the function of “Silences” and “Pauses” and their distinction in the context of the plays in question in this essay.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 49 p.
Keyword [en]
Harold Pinter, Early Plays, Silence, Pause, Menace, The Room, The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Dumbwaiter, intruder, victim
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104597ISRN: LIU-IKK/MPLCE-A--14/02--SEOAI: diva2:697913
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Language and Culture in Europe
, Linköping (English)
Available from: 2014-02-19 Created: 2014-02-19 Last updated: 2014-02-19Bibliographically approved

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