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Compare Family Grudges And Violence In 'the Homecoming' And 'a Streetcar Named Desire'

998 words - 4 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

He asks the audience to question what lies beneath the surface of conversation.

Ruth uses her sexuality to gain dominance over the male members of the household. At the end of the play the family put her on the game. However, Pinter has reversed the stereotypical weak role of a prostitute. She makes an “inventory” of things she would need, symbolising her complete dominance. Critics have described her as a “manipulator” which is indeed true. This is similar to the character Abigail Williams from ‘The Crucible’ who manipulates the community to gain power over society. She uses the Puritan’s greatest fear; the defiance of God. Ruth gains control over the family and their violence if proved to be a cover for impotence and weakness.

The play belongs to the theatre of the absurd. The non-sequitur, disjointed conversations represent the dysfunctional family. In the play the individual is stressed, instead of society. It focuses on the oddness, incomprehensibility and unpredictability of the world. Lenny tells Ruth about his encounter with a prostitute and stated that he was going to “kill her”. This is very shocking and violent in the extreme. However, Ruth’s response was to ask how he knew she was “diseased”. This is not what the audience would have expected, which adds to the shock impact of the violence.

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a work of social realism. It is set in the American Deep South in the 1940’s. The play uses expressionism and plastic theatre. It follows the story of the protagonist Blanche, who is a fallen woman in society’s eyes. Blanche seeks protection and security in New Orleans with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley.

Stanley is a violent, domineering man. He is Polish and represents the new face of America. Blanche claims he is a “Polack”, which makes her appear ignorant as in fact he is American “born and raised”. Stanley married Stella who belongs to the upper class,...

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