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The theme of violence and menace in The Caretaker

The theme of violence and menace is always present in Pinter's earlier' plays and The Caretaker is no exception in this respect. In a play of Pinter violence and menace lurk just below the surface. Mick, for example, is a character who finds pleasure in frightening others. His movements are swift and silent but he is unpredictable in his behaviour. He threatens Davies with physical violence at first and then poses to more subtle but very unsettling exhibitions of verbal menace. Davies is never quite sure where he stands with him.
The caretaker theme of violence

On the other side of the coin Davies presents a menace to Mick, a threat to his relationship with Aston. After all, it is Aston who invited Davies in. Although Mick complaints to Davies about Aston being lazy, at the end the bond between the two brothers is shown to be stronger than that between either of them, and David, the outsider.

Violence and menace also loom large in Aston's life. Unlike Mick he is always the victim and never the perpetrator. His description of the pincers being put on his skull in the hospital is very shocking, because generally we believe hospital to be a place that heals pain rather than causing it.

The most apparent source of menace is Mick. Davies is not only the victim of physical assault but is often brutally reminded by Mick of an ordered social world to which he does not belong. Then Mick's remarks about references, solicitors, contracts, personal medical attendants, etc. expose Davies's position in a world where he has no identity.

In his reaction to all these Davies becomes violent. We see early in Act One of the play, he promises to revenge himself upon the Scotsman who offended him. On two occasions in the play, he draws knife, firstly on Mick in Act Two, and then on Aston in Act Three.

Furthermore, we see that while Mick causes menace to Davies, he himself is frightened of losing his brother to Davies. Aston cannot forget his experiences in the hospital, and his silences can be menacing once the audience know that they spring from a character whose mind has been affected and whose responses are not as predictable as those of an ordinary person. The story of Aston being taken away to hospital against his wishes and tortured there into conformity suggests a hostile outside world waiting to pounce on those whom if suspects to be oppositions.Thus the theme of menace and violence is traceable in the behaviour and actions of the characters in The Caretaker.


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