Theme of Power in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming

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The Theme of Power in The Homecoming Author: Sarah Marchant In Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" one of the important themes is power. Many of the characters try to exert power. Many of the characters try to exert power over others through various means such as sexuality and intelligence. The use of violence within the household is believed by the men to be the most important tool of power. However, when Ruth, the only woman in the play, enters, she appears to defeat the men's power, but not with violence. Her sexuality and apparent intelligence become part of the way in which she takes control of the house. Power itself is the ability to take control and exert authority over others. Violence is a physical form of this. It usually takes the form of a display of force and this could be an unjust or even unlawful action. There could be a use of violent language or an element of threatened violence. However, the degree of power this holds is determined by the reaction of those threatened, or whether or not anything comes of the threat. Teddy introduces his wife, Ruth, into his childhood home that is a scene of tense threats and reports of violence - both sexual and physical. As soon as the play begins there is conflict between Lenny and his father, Max. Having been insulted by Lenny, Max threatens him with his stick, saying "Don't you talk to me like that. I'm warning you". However, nothing comes of this threat. The only element of power that can be inferred comes from the way in which Lenny makes no response. Perhaps he has previous experience of Max's anger, or it could be that both parties know that there is no point in pursuing the matter. The power that is expected to come with a threat is non-existent in this household as the threats are well-worn and always empty. Max demands that Teddy and Ruth leave his house, yet by the end of the play, he is sobbing and yearning for attention from Ruth. The insults and derogatory terms used within the family are not so much an element of power as a way of life. As there is no real mother figure within the household, the men have lapsed into a way of life in which they can show no affection to each other. Instead they insult each other in ways usually reserved for women: "bitch" and "slag".

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