Newspaper Discourse

Newspaper Discourse

Foucault (1974) discusses Discourse in terms of language link with culture, making its direct reference with the Newspapers as it is related to the social function of language. Discourse claims that the language used about a particular practice constructs the object of which it speaks.

In contrast to two major models, the Van Dijk’s social cognitive model and Wodak’s discourse historic model, Fairclough (1995) resorts to discourse analysis oriented towards sociolinguistics and to social theories regarding discourse in order to create a theoretical framework of CDA with three dimensions. Through these theories he studied the existing relationship between discourse and larger structures of society. In his study, the very first dimension is discourse as a text. Its goal is the study of different features in a text regarding discourses and it also inquires text sign, the reasons for this design, and other different possibilities. Through examining the choices of the linguistic forms of texts, it aims at revealing the function of such textual features and its role in production or resistance of the systems of ideology and power hierarchy. The second dimension of his study is discourse as material practice. It examines the process of its production, circulation and consumption.

For Fairclough (1992), the three dimensions of discourses respectively correspond to three analytical traditions. They are linguistics tradition with close textual and linguistic analysis; the macro sociological tradition with an emphasis on social structures; and the interpretive or micro sociological tradition that stresses individual action and agency.

CDA methods state that the discourse in newspaper forms a circular process. In it, social roles as well as different practices interfere with the text, as they shape its context and production manner. In a similar way, newspaper texts also have an influence in society by shaping the readers’ points of view (Richardson, 2007). Textual analysis is the first level of analysis in the Newspaper discourse, as it conveys the imprint of society i.e. connoted and denoted meanings. Occasionally reports of events are not entirely true or objective; they employ rhetorical strategies that are called rhetorical tropes. Corbett (1990) defined a trope as something that deviates from the original, ordinary meaning of a word (p. 426).

Newspaper discourse is characterized by following important features (see Bell, 1991, p.85; Fairclough, 1995a, p.36 and Biber, 1993, p.246): First, it has multiple creator or designers and a complex process of news writing news should be conceived as a product that derives from organizational structures and professional practices (Bell, 1991, p. 38). Accordingly, it is impossible to conceive any story alone, unique, a first-hand product from its source journalist, if we have not witnessed the journalist at work. A Newspaper by line does not guarantee the authorship (Bell, 1991, p.42). Newspaper Discourse lacks direct feedback, confusion, fragmentation, interaction, presence of audience, all of them characteristics of mass communication.

Stereotyping as regards how objective can communication via mass media be, it should be noted that readers and speakers have a stereotyped image in mind. It means reader has to identify newspaper as an institution i.e. the journalist is seen by them as merely an ‘institutional voice’ (Lindegren-Lerman, 1983, cited in Van Dijk, 1988a, p.75). Similarly stereotyped readers exist both in the minds of the communicators as well as in the text, i.e. they are partly constructed or construed through the text. It does not actually address the individual readers but the reader is addressed as a social group.

Embedding: News is always an embedded talk. Inside the News text produced by the author, other speech events or actions are rooted. Each has its own sender, receiver, and setting of time and place (Bell, 1991). News style is also controlled by some other general factors after (Van Dijk, 1988a, p.74):

  • News is a written type of discourse which qualifies the general limits imposed by written or printed texts.
  • It is confined by the possible topics of news discourse i.e. politics, either at a national or at an international level, military conflicts, social concerns, violence, disasters, sports, artistic creations, science and issues of human interest in general.
  • It is usually restricted to a formal communication style. It is every day, common, spoken language is deemed inappropriate, and only admitted within quotations ‘at least in the broadsheets.’
  • It is affected by time and space constraints. Its deadlines require fast writing and editing. Syntax and lexicalization must be of routine/ daily life to some degree. The fixed patterns of sentences are taught by journalism textbooks. Its room requires a condensed writing style to avoid repetitions. Sentences are crowded with much information in relative clauses; and nominalizations ‘which capture whole propositions’ are also significant.
  • It is influenced by the specifics of printing and layouts. Last but not the least, mass media outputs appear periodically and are accessible to a large audience (Jucker, 1995).

 

Feminism in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man

Feminism in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man

Regarding feminism; accurately this indictment that the ‘will of men’ had brought on the Women that places this novel apart from the other Women stories. Ice Candy Man is exclusive in illustrating not only the assault that was revealed on the women of the subcontinent but also in its valorization of the indictment and bravery that women are able in periods of disaster. Colors of contemporary feminism as well as would be found in Sidhwa’s work.

Feminism & Women’s Power

Sidhwa’s interpretation of Lenny’s own ideas, of Ayah’s overall rejection to take her destiny, of Godmother’s ingenuity, and of Lenny’s mother and aunt’s initiatives at recovery – all join to offer organization to women in this novel in the perspective of feminism. Sidhwa’s Women-centered story thus vindicates the power of women to create options and to take the reins of their life in their own arms, which actually volumes to an act of fantastic defiance, especially if we keep in thoughts the particular conditions of Ayah’s situation. Thus, though being a novel which seemingly prioritizes a man at least in its name, Ice-Candy-Man slightly but successfully subvert discussion of patriarchy and rights women will, option and durability along with the feministic features of sympathy and becoming a mother.

Feminism & Diasphoric Femininity (ies) in Sidhwa’s Writings

On the other hand through An American Brat, Sidhwa can appropriately be known as a diasporic femininity’s author, as the protect of the novel explains that she “divides her time between the U.S where she instructed, and Lahore where she lived a part of life.” Problematizing the idea of a set identity (ies), Sidhwa symbolizes her woman character as having several stages of identity (ies). Searching the groups of marginalization in Pakistan as well as in U.S, she lives upon the techniques of the sexed subaltern for training organization. When checked out in this way, Sidhwa’s work is different as it explains the various kinds and stages of marginalization. Furthermore, the limitations between the oppressed and the oppressor are brought up into a talk. Situated in various public and regional roles, the females of color develop methods of preparing organization. While doing so, the factors of “normalcy” and “traditionally feminine” are re-conceptualized. It is this state policies of gendering, its significance and effects that are shown in the perspective of contemporary as well as classical feminism.

Bapsi Sidhwa at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, ...
Bapsi Sidhwa at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Style Given By O’Henry in “The Last Leaf”

The Last Leaf Summary

‘The last leaf’ consists of four human characters; JOHNSY, SUE, DOCTOR and BEHRMAN, and a non-living character Mr. Pneumonia. Johnsy and Sue are roommates. Johnsy falls ill and she binds herself with such a fancy that she well die with the fallen of last ivy leaf. But Sue, the very optimist, consults the painter, Behrman, to paint an ivy leaf against the wall. Behrman paints such a leaf which is clinging to its stem against the wall. At last, Johnsy recovers her health. But Behrman dies of pneumonia in the hospital.

 The Last Leaf STYLE

  In style, the main focus is on the manners which are used by the writers in his work. Critics have to deal with the dialogues, vocabulary, metaphorical diction, syntax, kinds of imagery and kind of subject matter which is used by the writer.

PERSONIFICATION in The Last Leaf

            A variety of Figurative or metaphorical language in which things or ideas are treated as if they were human beings, with human attributes and feelings is called Personification. In the very first line of this story “the Last Leaf”, streets are personified by the writer but there streets symbolize human passions and relationships.

“The streets run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called ‘places’.”

 Pneumonia is a serious kind of disease and may become the cause of death. Johnsy falls ill due to the prey of pneumonia. While Behrman dies of it.

 “Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman.”

DIALOGUES

 The usage of dialogues is frequently existed in this story. Dialogues always occur between the two people who talk face to face. The mostly action of this story proceeds with the dialogues of Johnsy and Sue.

 “Try to sleep,” said Sue, I must call Behrman.”

                        “What is it, dear?” asked Sue.”

                        “Tell me as soon as you have finished,” said Johnsy

SIMILE/METAPHOR

 These deal with the relatedness of one thing to other with direct or indirect reference. Simile is the relatedness by ‘as’ or ‘like’. But metaphor is direct relation of one thing to the other on the behalf of some quality. For example,

                       “Johnsy was lying white and still as a fallen statue.”

“Behrman had a Michael Angelo’s Moses beard curling down from the head of a satyr along the body of an imp.”

COMPARISON

It is a technique used by O’ Henry to explain things through contrast and comparison. It is based on the quality or quantity of something. Art and literature are very close to each other but the writer compares them on the level of their functions. He pleads,

“Young artists must pave their way to art by drawing pictures for magazine stories that young authors write to pave their way to literature.”

 SYMBOLISM/IMAGERY

This story also does have the devices of symbolism and imagery. Leaf deals with life, nutrition and growth as well. The symbol of shoes and icy cold is also used in this story. Shoes are the symbol of oppression, tyranny and death as well. The writer uses this symbol to show the death of Mr. Behrman.

            “His shoes and clothing were wet through and icy cold.”

 Imagery is also very close to symbolism but it appeals to senses and feelings. There is a lot of color imagery in this story.

            “I have something to tell you, white mouse.”

 The image of white mouse is used for Johnsy because she recovers her health now. The white color presents innocence and purity.

 “Johnsy was contentedly knitting a very blue and very useless woolen shoulder scarf.”

             “Old Behrman, with his red eyes…”

 THEMES

OPTIMISM/PESSIMISM

 The system of this universe is based on two opposite things i.e. day and night, black and white, good and bad, hope and frustration etc. ‘The Last Leaf’ is very symbolic story which conveys the theme of Pessimism and Optimism. Pessimism deals with the darken aspects of life. As optimism is totally against to pessimism, it deals with the positive ways of life. It also can be said that optimism and pessimism are the two sides of a single coin. Johnsy always leads her life as a pessimist. Sue consoles Johnsy and she consults a painter to paint the fancy of Johnsy in an optimist way.

           “When the last one falls I must go, too.” –P

           “She was looking out the window and counting-counting backward.” –P

            “It is a sin to want to die.” –O

 HOPE

Hope is also one of the major themes in ‘The Last Leaf’. The system of this universe is running at the idea of hope. We dream for future life due to hope. For example, if an old man is seriously ill still he is dreaming for his recovery because of hope. He does not think about the black or fatal bird. The significance of the leaf is life and nurture. Leaf is the hope of life for tree or plant. When Johnsy sees the painted leaf against the wall through the window then she says,

“Something has made that last leaf stay there to show me a how wicked I was. It is a sin to want to die.”

 The Doctor said to Sue, “She’s out of danger. You’ve won.”

DEATH

The title of this story conveys the theme of death. Last means very close to death or closely to be end. The life or growth of the tree or plant may be guessed through its branches and the condition of leaves. There were almost a hundred leaves clinging with the stem but they were falling due to autumn season. Autumn is the mortal season for leaves. At the same time Johnsy fell ill due to Pneumonia. Pneumonia is the symbol of death for human being and old Behrman dies of it.

 “When the last one falls I must go, too.”

            “Mr. Behrman died of Pneumonia today in the hospital.

 FRIENDSHIP/SACRIFICE

“The last leaf” shows the theme of friendship and sacrifice. Friendship is such a relationship that is completed with the ties of sacrifice, sincerity, love, loyalties etc. Sue is friend of Johnsy and she progresses this relation through sacrifices.

Said Sue, “Will you promise me to keep your eyes close, and not looked out the window until I am done working?”

CONCLUSION

“It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.”

After the whole discussion, we can say that ‘The Last Leaf’ is also after “The Gift of The Magi” O’ Henry’s masterpiece. ‘The Gift of the Magi’ held so much popularity that many writers wrote OPERAS and many singers sang that OPERAS. These short stories are derived from the life of the ordinary people in New York City. O’ Henry uses twist plot in his stories, which turn on ironic or coincidental circumstance. Although some critics are not so enthusiastic about his work yet the public loves it. The Last Leaf Study Guide By M Zaman Ali.

The Last Leaf William James
William James (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Caretaker

The Caretaker is a play by Harold Pinter. It was first published by both Encore Publishing (publisher of Encore Magazine) and Eyre Methuen in 1960. The sixth play that Pinter wrote for stage or television production, it was his first significant commercial success. The play was first performed on stage at the Arts Theater, London, on 27 April 1960; it transferred to the Duchess Theater the next month. Its first run included 444 performances.

 

Origins and contexts of the play

Pinter’s own comment on the source of three of his major plays is frequently quoted by critics :

I went into a room and saw one person standing up and one person sitting down, and few weeks later I wrote The Room. I went into another room and saw two people sitting down, and a few years later I wrote The Birthday Party. I looked through a door into a third room and saw two people standing up and I wrote The Caretaker.

According to his official authorized biographer, Michael Billington, Pinter “talked in detail about the play’s origins” in images from his own personal experience and observations for the first time with him (in the mid 1990s), when Pinter told Billington that he wrote the play while he and his first wife Vivien Merchant

“were living [… ] in this first-floor flat in Chiswick: a very clean couple of rooms with a bath and kitchen. There was a chap who owned the house: a builder, in fact, like Mick who had his own van and whom I hardly ever saw. The only image of him was of this swift mover up and down the stairs and of his van going . . . Vroom . . . as he arrived and departed. His brother lived in the house. He was a handyman . . . he managed rather more successfully than Aston, but he was very introverted, very secretive, had been in a mental home some years before and had had some kind of electrical shock treatment . . . ECT, I think . . . Anyway, he did bring a tramp back one night. I call him a tramp, but he was just a homeless old man who stayed three or four weeks.” […] Mick, as he says, was the most purely invented character of the three. For the tramp [Davies], however, he had a certain fellow feeling. […] “It [the Pinters’ life in Chiswick] was a very threadbare existence . . . very . . . I was totally out of work. So I was very close to this old derelict’s world, in a way.”(Harold Pinter 114–17).”

For earlier critics, like Martin Esslin, The Caretaker suggests aspects of the Theatre of the Absurd, described by Esslin in his eponymous book coining that term first published in 1961; according to Esslin, absurdest drama by writers such as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Edward Albee, and others was prominent in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a reaction to chaos witnessed in World War Two and the state of the world after the war.

Billington observes that “The idea that [Davies] can affirm his identity and recover his papers by journeying to Sidcup is perhaps the greatest delusion of all, although one with its source in reality”; as “Pinter’s old Hackney friend Morris Wernick recalls, ‘It is undoubtedly true that Harold, with a writer’s ear, picked up words and phrases from each of us. He also picked up locales. The Sidcup in The Caretaker comes from the fact that the Royal Artillery HQ was there when I was a National Serviceman and its almost mythical quality as the fount of all permission and record was a source.’ To English ears,” Billington continues, “Sidcup has faintly comic overtones of suburban respectability. For Davies it is a Kentish Eldorado: the place that can solve all the problems about his unresolved identity and uncertain past, present and future” (122).

About directing a production of The Caretaker at the Roundabout Theater Company in 2003, David Jones observed:

The trap with Harold’s work, for performers and audiences, is to approach it too earnestly or portentously. I have always tried to interpret his plays with as much humor and humanity as possible. There is always mischief lurking in the darkest corners. The world of The Caretaker is a bleak one, its characters damaged and lonely. But they are all going to survive. And in their dance to that end they show a frenetic vitality and a wry sense of the ridiculous that balance heartache and laughter. Funny, but not too funny. As Pinter wrote, back in 1960 : “As far as I am concerned The Caretaker IS funny, up to a point. Beyond that point, it ceases to be funny, and it is because of that point that I wrote it.”

Characters

  1. Mick, a man in his late twenties
  2. Aston, a man in his early thirties
  3. Davies, an old man

Synopsis

This three-act play involves interactions between a mentally-challenged man, Aston; a tramp, Davies, whom Aston brings home to his attic room; and Aston’s younger brother (Mick), who appears responsible for the house.

 

Act I

(A night in winter)

 

[Scene 1]

 Aston has invited Davies, a homeless man, into his apartment after rescuing him from a bar fight (7–9). Davies comments on the apartment and criticizes the fact that it is cluttered and badly kept. Aston attempts to find him a pair of shoes for Davies but Davies rejects all the offers. Once he turns down a pair that doesn’t fit well enough and another that has the wrong color laces. Early on, Davies reveals to Aston that his real name is not “Bernard Jenkins”, his “assumed name”, but really “Mac Davies” (19–20, 25). He claims that his papers validifying this fact are in Sidcup and that he must and will return there to retrieve them just as soon as he has a good pair of shoes. Aston and Davies discuss where he will sleep and the problem of the “bucket” attached to the ceiling to catch dripping rain water from the leaky roof (20–21) and Davies “gets into bed” while “ASTON sits, poking his [electrical] plug (21).

[Scene 2]

(The LIGHTS FADE OUT. Darkness.)

(LIGHTS UP. Morning.)

As Aston dresses for the day, Davies awakes with a start, and Aston informs Davies that he was kept up all night by Davies muttering in his sleep. Davies denies that he made any noise and blames the racket on the neighbors, revealing his fear of foreigners: “I tell you what, maybe it were them Blacks” (23). Aston informs Davies that he is going out but invites him to stay if he likes, indicating that he trusts him (23–24), something unexpected by Davies; for, as soon as Aston does leave the room (27), Davies begins rummaging through Aston’s “stuff” (27–28) but he is interrupted when Mick, Aston’s brother, unexpectedly arrives, “moves upstage, silently,” “slides across the room” and then suddenly “seizes Davies’ “arm and forces it up his back,” in response to which “DAVIES screams,” and they engage in a minutely-choreographed struggle, which Mick wins (28–29), ending Act One with the “Curtain” line, “What’s the game?” (29).

Act II

 

[Scene 1]

(A few seconds later)

 

Mick demands to know Davies’ name, which the latter gives as “Jenkins” (30), interrogates him about how well he slept the night before (30), wonders whether or not Davies is actually “a foreigner”—to which Davies retorts that he “was” indeed (in Mick’s phrase) “Born and bred in the British Isles” (33)—going on to accuse Davies of being “an old robber […] an old skate” who is “stinking the place out” (35), and spinning a verbal web full of banking jargon designed to confuse Davies, while stating, hyperbolically, that his brother Aston is “a number one decorator” (36), either an outright lie or self-deceptive wishful thinking on his part. Just as Mick reaches the climactic line of his diatribe geared to put the old tramp off balance—”Who do you bank with?” (36), Aston enters with a “bag” ostensibly for Davies, and the brothers debate how to fix the leaking roof and Davies interrupts to inject the more practical question: “What do you do . . . when that bucket’s full?” (37) and Aston simply says, “Empty it” (37). The three battle over the “bag” that Aston has brought Davies, one of the most comic and often-cited Beckettian routines in the play (38–39). After Mick leaves, and Davies recognizes him to be “a real joker, that lad” (40), they discuss Mick’s work in “the building trade” and Davies ultimately discloses that the bag they have fought over and that he was so determined to hold on to “ain’t my bag” at all (41). Aston offers Davies the job of Caretaker, (42–43), leading to Davies’ various assorted animadversions about the dangers that he faces for “going under an assumed name” and possibly being found out by anyone who might “ring the bell called Caretaker” (44).

[Scene 2]

 

(THE LIGHTS FADE TO BLACKOUT.

THEN UP TO DIM LIGHT THROUGH THE WINDOW.)

A door bangs.

Sound of a key in the door of the room.

DAVIES enters, closes the door, and tries the light switch, on, off, on, off.

It appears to Davies that “the damn light’s gone now,” but, it becomes clear that Mick has sneaked back into the room in the dark and removed the bulb; he starts up “the electrolyte” and scares Davies almost witless before claiming “I was just doing some spring cleaning” and returning the bulb to its socket (45). After a discussion with Davies about the place being his “responsibility” and his ambitions to fix it up, Mick also offers Davies the job of “caretaker” (46–50), but pushes his luck with Mick when he observes negative things about Aston, like the idea that he “doesn’t like work” or is “a bit of a funny bloke” for “Not liking work” (Davies’ camouflage of what he really is referring to), leading Mick to observe that Davies is “getting hypocritical” and “too glib” (50), and they turn to the absurd details of “a small financial agreement” relating to Davies’ possibly doing “a bit of caretaking” or “looking after the place” for Mick (51), and then back to the inevitable call for “references” and the perpetually-necessary trip to Sidcup to get Davies’ identity “papers” (51–52).

[Scene 3]

(Morning)

 

Davies wakes up and complains to Aston about how badly he slept. He blames various aspects of the apartment’s set up. Aston suggests adjustments but Davies proves to be callous and inflexible. Aston tells the story of how he was checked into a mental hospital and given electric shock therapy, but when he tried to escape from the hospital he was shocked while standing, leaving him with permanent brain damage; he ends by saying, “I’ve often thought of going back and trying to find the man who did that to me. But I want to do something first. I want to build that shed out in the garden” (54–57). Critics regard Aston’s monologue, the longest of the play, as the “climax” of the plot.[5] In dramatically terms, what follows is part of the plot’s “falling action”.

Act III

 

 

[Scene 1]

(Two weeks later [… ]Afternoon.)

 

Davies and Mick discuss the apartment. Mick relates “(ruminatively)” in great detail what he would do to redecorate it (60). When asked who “would live there,” Mick’s response “My brother and me” leads Davies to complain about Aston’s inability to be social and just about every other aspect of Aston’s behavior (61–63). Though initially invited to be a “caretaker,” first by Aston and then by Mick, he begins to ingratiate himself with Mick, who acts as if he were an unwitting accomplice in Davies’ eventual conspiracy to take over and fix up the apartment without Aston’s involvement (64) an outright betrayal of the brother who actually took him in and attempted to find his “belongings”; but just then Aston enters and gives Davies yet another pair of shoes which he grudgingly accepts, speaking of “going down to Sidcup” in order “to get” his “papers” again (65–66).

[Scene 2]

(That night)

 

Davies brings up his plan when talking to Aston, whom he insults by throwing back in his face the details of his treatment in the mental institution (66–67), leading Aston, in a vast understatement, to respond: “I . . . I think it’s about time you found somewhere else. I don’t think we’re hitting it off” (68). When finally threatened by Davies pointing a knife at him, Aston tells Davies to leave: “Get your stuff” (69). Davies, outraged, claims that Mick will take his side and kick Aston out instead and leaves in a fury, concluding (mistakenly): “Now I know who I can trust” (69).

[Scene 3]

(Later)

 

Davies reenters with Mick explaining the fight that occurred earlier and complaining still more bitterly about Mick’s brother, Aston (70–71). Eventually, Mick takes Aston’s side, beginning with the observation “You get a bit out of your depth sometimes, don’t you?” (71). Mick forces Davies to disclose that his “real name” is Davies and his “assumed name” is “Jenkins” and, after Davies calls Aston “nutty”, Mick appears to take offense at what he terms Davies’ “impertinent thing to say,” concludes, “I’m compelled to pay you off for your caretaking work. Here’s half a dollar,” and stresses his need to turn back to his own “business” affairs (74). When Aston comes back into the apartment, the brothers face each other,” “They look at each other. Both are smiling, faintly” (75). Using the excuse of having returned for his “pipe” (given to him earlier through the generosity of Aston), Davies turns to beg Aston to let him stay (75–77). But Aston rebuffs each of Davies’ rationalisations of his past complaints (75–76). The play ends with a “Long silence” as Aston, who “remains still, his back to him [Davies], at the window, apparently unrelenting as he gazes at his garden and makes no response at all to Davies’ futile plea, which is sprinkled with many dots (“. . .”) of elliptical hesitations (77–78).

Analysis of the characters

Aston

When he was younger he was given electric shock therapy that leaves him permanently brain damaged. His efforts to appease the ever-complaining Davies may be seen as an attempt to reach out to others. He desperately seeks a connection in the wrong place and with the wrong people. His main obstacle is his inability to communicate. He is misunderstood by his closest relative, his brother, and thus is completely isolated in his existence. His good-natured attitude makes him vulnerable to exploitation. His dialogue is sparse and often a direct response to something Mick or Davies has said. Aston has dreams of building a shed. The shed to him may represent all the things his life lacks: accomplishment and structure. The shed represents hope for the future.

 

Davies

Davies manufactures the story of his life, lying or sidestepping some details to avoid telling the whole truth about himself. A non-sequitur. He adjusts aspects of the story of his life according to the people he is trying to impress, influence, or manipulate. As Billington points out, “When Mick suggests that Davies might have been in the services — and even the colonies, Davies retorts: ‘I was over there. I was one of the first over there.’ He defines himself according to momentary imperatives and other people’s suggestions” (122).

 

Mick

At times violent and ill-tempered, Mick is ambitious. He talks above Davies’ ability to comprehend him. His increasing dissatisfaction with Davies leads to a rapprochement with his brother, Aston; though he appears to have distanced himself from Aston prior to the opening of the play, by the end, they exchange a few words and a faint smile. Early in the play, when he first encounters him, Mick attacks Davies, taking him for an intruder in his brother Aston’s abode: an attic room of a run-down house which Mick looks after and in which he enables his brother to live. At first, he is aggressive toward Davies. Later, it may be that by suggesting that Davies could be “caretaker” of both his house and his brother, Mick is attempting to shift responsibility from himself onto Davies, who hardly seems a viable candidate for such tasks. The disparities between the loftiness of Mick’s “dreams” and needs for immediate results and the mundane realities of Davies’s neediness and shifty non-committal nature creates much of the absurdity of the play.

 

Style

The language and plot of The Caretaker blends Realism with the Theater of the Absurd. In the Theater of the Absurd language is devalued.

 

The play has often been compared to Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, and other absurdist plays because of its apparent lack of plot and action.

The fluidity of the characters is explained by Ronald Knowles as follows: “Language, character, and being are here aspects of each other made manifest in speech and silence. Character is no longer the clearly perceived entity underlying clarity of articulation the objectification of a social and moral entelechy but something amorphous and contingent (41).

Language

One of the keys to understanding Pinter’s language is not to rely on the words a character says but to look for the meaning behind the text. The Caretaker is filled with long rants and non-sequiturs, the language is either choppy dialogue full of interruptions or long speeches that are a vocalized train of thought. Although, the text is presented in a casual way there is always a message behind its simplicity. Pinter is often concerned with “communication itself, or rather the deliberate evasion of communication” (Knowles 43).

 

The play’s staccato language and rhythms are musically balanced through strategically placed pauses. Pinter toys with silence, where it is used in the play and what emphasis it places on the words when they are at last spoken.

Mode of drama: Tragicomedy

The Caretaker is a drama of mixed modes; both tragic and comic, it is a tragicomedy. Elements of comedy appear in the monologues of Davies and Mick, and the characters’ interactions at times even approach farce. For instance, the first scene of Act Two, which critics have compared to the hat and shoe sequences in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, is particularly farcical:

 

ASTON offers the bag to DAVIES.

MICK grabs it.

ASTON takes it.

MICK grabs it.

DAVIES reaches for it.

ASTON takes it.

MICK reaches for it.

ASTON gives it to DAVIES.

MICK grabs it. Pause. (39)

Davies’ confusion, repetitions, and attempts to deceive both brothers and to play each one off against the other are also farcical. Davies has pretended to be someone else and using an assumed name, “Bernard Jenkins”. But, in response to separate inquiries by Aston and Mick, it appears that Davies’ real name is not really “Bernard Jenkins” but that it is “Mac Davies” (as Pinter designates him “Davies” throughout) and that he is actually Welsh and not English, a fact that he is attempting to conceal throughout the play and that motivates him to “get down to Sidcup”, the past location of a British Army Records Office, to get his identity “papers” (13–16).

The elements of tragedy occur in Aston’s climactic monologue about his shock treatments in “that place” and at the end of the play, though the ending is still somewhat ambiguous: at the very end, it appears that the brothers are turning Davies, an old homeless man, out of what may be his last chance for shelter, mainly because of his (and their) inabilities to adjust socially to one another, or their respective “anti-social” qualities.

Interpretation:

In his 1960 book review of The Caretaker, fellow English playwright John Arden writes: “Taken purely at its face value this play is a study of the unexpected strength of family ties against an intruder.” As Arden states, family relationships are one of the main thematic concerns of the play.

Another prevalent theme is the characters’ inability to communicate productively with one another. The play depends more on dialogue than on action; however, though there are fleeting moments in which each of them does seem to reach some understanding with the other, more often, they avoid communicating with one another as a result of their own psychological insecurities and self-concerns.

The theme of isolation appears to result from the characters’ inability to communicate with one another, and the characters’ own insularity seems to exacerbate their difficulty communicating with others.

As the characters also engage in deceiving one another and themselves, deception and self-deception are motifs, and certain deceptive phrases and self-deceptive strategies recur as refrains throughout the dialogue. Davies uses an assumed name and has convinced himself that he is really going to resolve his problems relating to his lack of identity papers, even though he appears too lazy to take any such responsibility for his own actions and blames his inaction on everyone but himself. Aston believes that his dream of building a shed will eventually reach fruition, despite his mental disability. Mick believes that his ambitions for a successful career outweigh his responsibility to care for his mentally-damaged brother. In the end however all three men are deceiving themselves. Their lives may continue on beyond the end of the play just as they are at the beginning and throughout it. The deceit and isolation in the play lead to a world where time, place, identity, and language are ambiguous and fluid.

By: Aqsa Riaz

Oedipus Rex, Plot, Symbols, Style, Philosophy, Quotations

Plot

 

The city of thebes is suffering and Oedipus the king wants to know why. Creon is sent to ask the oracle and Teiresius, a prophet is sent for. The oracle says that the murderer of Laios must be found and punished so Oedipus proclaimed that he would do everything he could to find the murderer. Teiresius says that the murderer is Oedipus, but Oedipus does not believe him. Oedipus charges Creon of sending the prophet to overthrow him. Oedipus tells Iocaste of his leaving Corinth. He tells her that it was prophesied that he would kill his father and marry his mother, but so that it would never happen, he ran from Corinth. On the trip, he met some people on the highway, got in an argument, and killed them. He also solved the riddle of the sphinx, and became the king of Thebes. A messenger came from Corinth to tell Oedipus of Polybos’ death and that he would now become the king of Corinth. The messenger also tells Oedipus that he is not the son of Polybos, but that the messenger was given Oedipus by another man and that he gave Oedipus to Polybos. The person that gave Oedipus to the messenger was sent for. The shepherd arrives and tells Oedipus that he was a servant of Laios and that Laios gave him his child to kill because of the prophecy that his son would kill him. Since the shepherd felt sorry for the child, he did not kill him, but gave him to the other shepherd. After this, Oedipus finds out that the prophecy came true. Iocaste commits suicide, and Oedipus gouges out his eyes. Then he says bye to his children, and leaves the city.

Symbols

 

The scar on Oedipus foot – Oedipus got this scar when the servant from Laios tied him by his foot and left him to die. This is where Oedipus (which means swollen foot) got his name. “Messenger: I cut the bonds that tied your ankles together. / Oedipus: I have had the mark as long as I can remember. / Messenger: That is why you were given the name you bear.”

Teiresias – He symbolizes Oedipus’ blindness to the truth in the beginning of the play and shows Oedipus’ temper. His title of the blind seer exemplifies the theme of blindness and sight. “Teiresias: … A Blind man, / Who has his sight now.”

Style

 

The style is simple and like normal speech for the most part. The sentences are not complicated and they are easy to understand. Sophocles wrote the play in the typical five part tragedy fashion.

Philosophy

 

The story seems to say that a man cannot run from his fate. It was prophesied that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother, and although he tried to run from that, it happened anyway. The same is true for Laios who tried to get rid of his son to run from the prophecy that his son would murder him.

Quotations

 

“Oedipus: Wealth, power, craft of statesmanship! / Kingly position, everywhere admired! / what savage envy is stored up against these,” Oedipus says this to Creon after the fortune from Teiresias.

“Teiresias: … But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind: / You can not see the wretchedness of your life, / Nor in whose house you live, no, nor with whom. / Who are your father and mother? Can you tell me?” Teiresias says this to Oedipus after Oedipus starts getting angry with him.

“Teiresias: A blind man, /Who has his eyes now; a penniless man, who is rich now; / And he will go tapping the strange earth with his staff; / to the children with whom he lives now he will be / Brother and father – the very same; to her / Who bore him, son and husband – the very same / Who came to his father’s bed, wet with his father’s blood.” Teiresias tells this to Oedipus prophesying what Oedipus will find out.

“Oedipus: Let it come! / However base my birth, I must know about it. The Queen, like a woman, is perhaps ashamed / To think of my low origin. But I / Am a child of Luck; I can not be dishonored.” Oedipus says this to Iocaste trying to encourage her to continue with the search of the truth when she was beginning to fear the truth.