Renunciation of language in Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming,” “The Caretaker” and “The Dumb Waiter: a Lacanian analysis

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Education, Department of Foreign Language Education, Turkey

Approval Date: 2006

Thesis Language: English

Student: Türkan Aydın



Based on Harold Pinter's three plays “The Homecoming,” “The Caretaker” and “The Dumb Waiter,” the aim of this study is to explore the idea that an individual cannot be a speaking member of the Symbolic Order, thus of the society unless s/he obeys the prohibitions/commands of language, a concept on which both Pinter and Lacan put great emphasis in their own vision. For Pinter human beings lead a life controlled by some unknown powers and build a disastrous subjective world devoid of linguistic competence. As for Lacan, language imprisons, castrates and pushes the subject into a claustrophobic world, which is portrayed strikingly by Pinter. The result is equally impressive; for Lacan: neurosis or psychosis, oscillating between the Orders/Registers of the Symbolic, Imaginary and Real, not possessing an assigned role in the community, and for Pinter: an absurd world where there is no meaning but a sense of loss. Lacan’s explanation for the reasons of this absurd world focuses on two significant factors : the m(O)ther, who meets the basic needs in the Imaginary Order/stage of infancy and who introduces the Father to the child, and the Father, who will enable the child to obey the prohibitions of language, and thus to secure the child’s adulthood. Throughout the study the points which will be highlighted are as follows: the characteristics of the absurd drama, the place of Harold Pinter in the contemporary theatre and the justification of a Lacanian reading, subjectivity’s constitution.