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Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Discuss the role and character of Aston in the play The Caretaker.

Aston in his last twenties or early thirties appears to be the elder brother of Mick in The Caretaker'. He wears a shabby pin-striped suit that was given to him at the hospital.

The most obvious feature of Aston is his generosity. He rescues Davies from the cafe, places a chair for him, offers him a room and a bed, goes back for his bag, and finds him another when the original one is unobtainable. He gives Davies a cigarette, a pair of shoes, money and the bag. However, his very kindness leaves him vulnerable to attacks from Davies. It is ironic that Davies speaks to Aston, who is kind to him, in a way, he would never dare speak to Mick, who taunts and torments him.

In Act One Aston tells Davies that he likes working with his hands, but all his talk of building the shed and for all his working with electric plugs, he accomplishes very little in the play. His business appears to be an excuse for getting nothing done rather than a means of attaining targets. By keeping himself preoccupied, Aston manages to give his life some sense of purpose, although this leads Mick to complain that Aston is hopeless as a workman. What Pinter shows very powerfully through Aston is a mind, rendered too timid to confront those issues with which it is faced. It has been rendered so by a society which dislikes misfits. Unable to give his life much drive or direction, Aston takes refuge in dreams and pointless fiddling with plugs.

The disordered state of Aston's mind has been projected in various ways. Most obviously the room with its clutter of ill-assorted objects, serves as a visual symbol of Aston's cluttered brain. His manner of speech is also significant. Most of the time, his speeches are short as though he feels difficulty in formulating thoughts and expressing them is also difficult for him. For example, in Act Two when Aston tells Davies about the shed he intends to build. In his musing about the shed and then the room, Aston seems to forget Davies's presence. In this way, and through the hesitant and broken phrases he uses, Pinter shows the extent to which dreaming gives Aston some sense of purpose.

To sum up, Aston appears to be a practical man of the world. Although he is kind, he does finally have the determination to ask Davies to leave. He does this only after Davies has been particularly offensive, and then in a mild manner, even offering Davies some money to get to Sidcup. It is only when Davies speaks dismissively of the shed that Aston becomes angry. He does not mind for insultation but he cannot tolerate when anyone speaks disrespectfully of the dream that gives his life a semblance of purpose.

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