Human Interactions in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

Human Interactions in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

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The Carataker by Harold Pinter is a play, which focuses on complexity of human interactions and at the same time it blends different sub-genres such as, comedy, tragedy and psychological play. For the purpose of this commentary I am going to compare two separate but also to a certain extent similar scenes from the Act One and the Act Three. Both scenes deal with a seemingly trivial matter- the shoes. However, in both instances “the shoes” have a deeper meaning. Therefore, I would like to analyze them in terms of interactions between the two characters; namely, Aston and Davies, attitudes, motifs and how they fit in the context of the entire play.
In the Act One Aston offers a pair of leather shoes to Davis who describes them as “Not a bad pair of shoes”. During the examination he is impressed with the quality of the shoes. However, he admits that they are too narrow for him. It seems that Davis is appreciative of Aston’s effort and concern to provide him with shoes. Perhaps it is related to the fact that it is the beginning of the play and both characters do not know each other yet and are still fascinated by the freshness of their relationship.
In the scene in Act Three when Davies is offered with another pair of shoes, the interaction between Aston and him is quite different. This time he does not care to compliment the shoes. Instead he just complains that they do not fit but reluctantly he agrees to wear them until he receives a pair that will. After that he asks for laces and he hears that Aston only got the shoes for him. As a result, he exclaims that the shoes are not good at all without laces, so Aston brings him laces but of a different colour than the shoes. Yet again, Davies is not pleased about it although he finally accepts the shoes saying that “Well, they can do, anyway, until I get another pair”. In this scene, Davies indicates that Aston should try to get him another shoes. He does not acknowledge Aston’s efforts. Rather he uses Aston even though Aston is the man who gave him a place to live and a chance for a better future.
Davies’s quest for obtaining a pair of shoes is an essential motif in the play. The shoes represent a social status and the notion of moving forward.

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Without them Davies is sort of paralysed. Literally, in a physical sense, as he cannot move from one place to another and metaphorically, as he is unable to climb the social ladder. Paradoxically, he is the one who prevents himself from going ahead, as he chooses not to accept the shoes for various unimportant reasons and it is clearly shown in both scenes, as he produces different excuses.
The shoes are not the only aspect repeated in the play. Davies throughout the play wants to get his shoes, so he can retrieve his identity. He mentions the place called Sidcup where those documents are held but he cannot get there without shoes. All of these aspects are related and one leads to another. The scenes with shoes prove that one apparently insignificant item may prevent one from achieving a normal life and in the case of Davies it is so. Without shoes he cannot get his documents and without his documents he cannot sort out his own life. Nonetheless, Davies does not realise or maybe refuses to realise that he is the source of his own misfortunes through excuses and obstacles he creates.
In my conceit, the two scenes are similar in terms of motifs, as the repetition of the shoes connects with the larger theme of Davies’s struggle for an ordinary life. On the other hand, the interactions and the attitudes of both characters differ from the scene in the Act one and the Act Three, as it was mentioned above. Nevertheless, the supposedly insignificant scenes have a crucial part in the play itself, as the shoes are the first step for Davies to reclaim his life. Even if the chance is wasted.

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