Harold Pinter

Powerful Essays
Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter is one of the greatest British dramatists of our time. Pinter has

written a number of absurd masterpieces including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker,

The Homecoming, Betrayal, Old Times, and Ashes to Ashes. He has also composed a

number of radio plays and several volumes of poetry. His screenplays include The French

Lieutenant's Woman, The Last Tycoon, and The Handmaid's Tale. He has received

numerous awards including the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear, BAFTA awards, the

Hamburg Shakespeare Prize, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or and the

Commonwealth Award.

Harold Pinter was born on October 10, 1930 in Hackney, East London. He was

the sole child of Jack Pinter and Frances Franklin. His father was a ladies’ tailor whose

family was among Jewish immigrants that reached the East End of London. Both sides

of Harold’s family were Jewish, but they had different personalities and characteristics.

His paternal side was Orthodox Jewish and they had an artistic background, whereas his

maternal side was more secular and skeptical about strict rules of religion and were

known for their entrepreneurial background. Although the Pinter’s were relaxed and

music-loving, they got along well at family gatherings with the noisy and clamorous


Since Harold was an only child, he would imagine a life with brothers and sisters

and would create imaginary friends and play out adventures and scenes in the backyard

of his home. This isolated world created a place where Harold felt warmth and security.

However, this childhood was interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939. Harold had to

leave his home in Hackney as part of a nationwide evacuation, and along with twenty

four other children, Harold was sent to John Nash, a fabricated castle, from the

elementary school. This was a traumatic and disturbing experience for all of the boys

who were isolated from their homes and families, especially for nine-year old Harold.

Some boys took advantage of this experience and were happy to be exposed to rural life.

“For Harold, the disturbing experience blended with a magical eye opening encounter of

rural life and his tendency to introspect blossomed” (Top Biography). At the same time,

his awareness to sounds and images developed, and these permeated his later life and


This encounter left a mark in Harol...

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...lways isolated from something, whether it be from the lack

of feeling of love from non-existing siblings and creating imaginary friends in his

backyard, or being isolated from his parents during his evacuation throughout the war.

Pinter’s life was filled with significant events, but he claims that his life is and was

confusing and has had no influence through his works. In this case, his plays, like his

life, are just a series of events that happen in real life, but are not supposed to mean a

certain thing or express a certain thought. His most recognizable plays mostly take place

in just a room filled with people dealing with a certain issue, but they mean so much

more; or do they? These situations can be so awkward and silly at times that they are

absurd enough to see humor in them and laugh at. This is the way Pinter wanted his

plays to be looked at. He was never trying to get a message across and his plays are

meant to show a situation at hand and how people deal with it. It is so easy to try and

come up with a reason for his menace which causes critics to over-analyze his work.

This is what makes Harold Pinter one of the greatest British dramatists of our day.
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