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individual’s pathetic search for security of secret dreads and anxieties of the terrorism of our world.‖ Martin Esslin Martin Esslin, an eminent critic, used the phrase ―Theatre of the Absurd‖, to describe the plays of the 1950s and 1960s. It was influenced by the traumatic experience of the horrors of the Second World War which showed the total impermanence of any values, and highlighted the precariousness, fundamental meaninglessness and arbitrariness of human life. Pinter’s 'The Birthday Party’ presents The theatre of Absurd and it is one of his best-known and most-frequently performed plays. It explores many themes and issues throughout the play through the dialogue and relationships of the characters and one of them is the theme of absurd of existence. Pinter sees the funny side of the absurd. Since there is nothing for Pinter that is not funny, he employs a comic way of expression to laugh at everything, even at the tragic parts of existence. The absurd is aimed at a deeper perception of human existence. It helps to reveal a more complex reality which is hidden deep inside. Such themes as loneliness, lack of communication, fear of the world outside, and the terror of betrayal become the major concern of the absurdist writer. He sees a chaotic world, where there are many absolute truths which confuses us. It is a world where there are mixed up fantasy and the real, where the choice becomes a real catastrophe, and disconnected situations are what determine the individuals’ prospect of the future life. In Birthday Party Goldberg and McCann are interrogating Stanley: Goldberg: Where was your wife? Stanley: In— Goldberg: Answer. Stanley (turning, crouched): What wife?
becomes a vehicle of conventionalized. In the first Act. However. Moreover. Pinter uses repetition as a mode to create laughter and also to ease the tension of the scene and divert the audience’s response slightly from the action. This ritualistic scene of the breakfast suggests a visual image of the character’s isolation and the boredom of their lives. how language fails to unite them. as a result.is that you? Pause Petey? Petey – what? Meg –Is that you? Petey – Yes it’s me. everything eventually becomes unreliable. Language. the mysterious behaves of characters. stereotyped meaningless exchange. as a means of communication. Petey’s newspaper itself as ―one of the most effective barriers 2 . Petey? Pause Petey. Words fail to express the essence of human experiences. ―The most distinctive elements in Pinter’s dramatic technique are the ambiguity that surrounds events. and.‖ For instance. and the silences and other verbal characteristics. not being able to penetrate beyond its surface. they are lead to the solitude of the fearful void. their meaningless conversation indicates clearly the meaninglessness and the emptiness of their relationship. the near omni presence of menace.Goldberg: What have you done with your wife? McCann: He's killed his wife! Stanley: What wife? Goldberg: Why did you never get married? This situation shows how individuals fail to communicate. Meg repeatedly asks a question to create laughter: Meg – Is that you. According to Ganz. The Theatre of the Absurd shows language as a very unreliable and insufficient tool of communication. even the language. In this drama.
e. dethroned. ―Stenley enters. absurdity of life. The dialogue between Petey and Meg are more an attempt at evasion than communication. Every single phrase characters say leads them into pauses and silences. He is unshaved. and helpless. For Pinter.to communication devised by man. These aspects are the main. Pinter stresses on four different aspects of language: rhythm. tempo. often vicious reality. their words seem mere sounds. intensity and tension. rather than for their own meanings. and not words. and to create sounds that fill their loneliness and isolation. in his pyjama jacket and wears glasses. Pinter’s characters usually use verbal exchanges in order to hide their naked. suggestive auditory effects to fill the stage time and break silence. Pinter arranges his words meticulously. The birthday party itself may be seen as a ritual to complete Stanley’s destruction that is already started before with a torrent of accusations. disarmed. and the absurd changes. which is a major linguistic element in The Birthday Party. language creates a stasis in a communication. In Pinter.‖ offers a very suggestive visual effect that exposes the failure of communication. Pinter believes that life is arbitrary and meaningless. and he listens to them through silence. So. from one to another. Martin Esslin indicates that the play may be similar to Beckett’s ―Endgame‖ in the sense that both plays talk about 3 . and any verbal assertiveness causes communicative disjunction. The image of Stenley helps us to visualize the state of uselessness. i. A person is thrown into this world. Pinter in many occasions points out his belief that the reason of using language is that “people fall back on anything they can lay their hands on verbally to keep away from the danger of knowing and of being known.” The feelings of anguish and dread are caused by the supposition that man is a miserable creature whose life is controlled by some super-human forces. The dynamity of play is attained by manipulation of the exchange pattern of the dialogues.‖ Influenced by existentialists. As well as constant repeating of one and the same question ―Is it nice?‖ by Meg. the structure of the dialogue plays a vital role in creating a tense dramatic atmosphere of absurdity of existence.
to make her anxious. Similarly. his past. regarding birthday as Man’s essential crime. one of the most dominant themes within the play. Meg: You’ll be lonely. So Goldberg says: There’s a gentleman living here who’s got a birthday today and he’s forgotten all about it. but in reality. It starts with the little noise of lightening and then ends gradually and quietly unnoticed and leaving nothing but ashes. all by yourself. is perpetuated by the characters’ needs to maintain their delusions by lying to one another. every object such as a newspaper or a toy drum and ordinarily harmless games or actions and every slight sound and voice plays a worthy role in an individual’s struggle for survival and in projecting the general sense of fear and Man’s terror of loneliness. nothing could be further from the truth. nothing remains from Stanley as Goldberg and McCann take him away so quietly and without objection. He behaves like a dying man whose life is absurd and meaningless. Pinter draws an image of the absurdity of human existence in Stanley’s pantomime when he ―lights a match and watches it burn‖ . He tells Meg he has a new job and that he will be leaving. Meg: Tickle. after destroying everything. Meg: Are you going out? Stenley: Not with you. Stenley: Will I? 4 . tickle. Stanley does not want to leave the boardinghouse. Very strikingly. sight and even his ability to express. Stenley: (pushing her) Get away from me. In ―The Birthday Party‖. Everytime he speaks to Meg he tries to offend her. Stanley seems now to feel that his existence is as insignificant as this match. identity. Stanley consistently lies within the play. stuck in the mindless and repetitive world of Meg and Petey’s relationship.human deterioration and the process of death. and yet he feels trapped there. Confusion. So were going to remind him.
" 5 . meaninglessness and isolation. The Postmodernism predominates and in the wake of it. which never allows the protagonist to rest. Pinter succeeds in creating an allegorical drama of epic proportions: Man versus his birth and existence. nothingness. the danger. Pinter excellently depicted the modern rootlessness of man. The characters in ―The Birthday Party‖ are neither capable using the language. The final impression of the play on the audience echoes Pinter’s own words: " In our present-day world. we are surrounded by the unknown . nothingness. like an absurd hero.. language has lost its semantic power and significance.―The Birthday Party‖ reveals humans’ state of solitude. aggressiveness and violence. terror. absurdity. In Pinter’s world. There is something always lurking which haunts him so that he is not able to articulate himself fully. the irrationality. language for them is like movement. all prevails. or Man versus language. There is a kind of horror about and I think that this horror and absurdity go together. Language. To conclude. brings to the audience the absurdity of human situation. guilt.. who is wandering with no origin and no destination. and there is no solace for him. futility. He can be involved in dual relationship of being a lover and a surrogate son. I would like to say that this play impressed me by its true image. everything is uncertain. there is no fixed point.