Article Title

Dance to a Cut-Throat Temper: Harold Pinter's Poetry as an Index to Intended Audience Response


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

By the time Harold Pinter wrote his first play, The Room (1957), he had completed several hundred poems.1 Although an extensive analysis of the published verse would be interesting in its own right, perhaps more importantly, a brief examination sheds light on the intended audience response to the mature plays. Most critics concur that Pinter depicts human relationships as based in patterns of dominance and subservience, or aggressive vs. escapist behavior, but few discuss the motivations for such behavior or intended response to Pinter's richly ambiguous portrayals. Like the poems, the mature plays depict wonderfully particularized situations involving memorably idiosyncratic characters, yet at the same time both situation and character evoke metaphorical associations. The poems not only clarify those associations, but also emphasize that intended response to the plays entails the recognition that the characters' refusal fully to confront the fact of death motivates much of their behavior. Such refusal accentuates a radical insecurity that necessitates aggressive or escapist responses.2 Recognition of such a concatenation, the poetry emphasizes, is in tum intended to lead to positive changes in audience behavior.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.