Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/8365
This essay discusses the substantial and hitherto largely unacknowledged debt that Harold Pinter’s plays owe to George Orwell’s grand statement and last novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The main focus will be on attributes and themes of Pinter’s plays which have been widely acknowledged by critics as so typical of his works that the adjective “Pinteresque” has been ascribed to them, such as the volatility of the past, enclosed spaces, intrusion and the power struggles inherent in language. By investigating close parallels between Pinter’s plays on one hand, particularly The Birthday Party, his first major play, as well as the “memory play” Old Times, and Nineteen Eighty-Four on the other, Pinteresque features will be shown to be also Orwellian in nature.
Pinter repeatedly brought the Orwellian vision of a major political struggle to the stage cloaked as a microcosmic battle of wills, much as Orwell did himself in the final third of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Starting with a discussion of the background of The Birthday Party and moving on to separate chapters about the past, enclosed spaces, and language, the politically Orwellian aspect of Pinter’s oeuvre, generally believed to have been of little weight until his overtly political plays in the 1980s and his increasing political activism, will thus be shown to be of vital importance from his earliest works onwards.
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