Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Miseries of Modern Man as depicted by Harold Pinter in the play The Caretaker

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Miseries of Modern Man as depicted by Harold Pinter in the play The Caretaker

Why Absurd is Meaningful?

Definition of modern man: Modern Man is indefinable. He is bunch of certain capabilities which are flexible and one is frequently replaced by another when caught in the whirlpool of flux of society.

1. Any man is a Modern man if he is capable of dropping the Hydrogen Bomb and Atom Bomb on innocent people without any shame or guilt. While doing the act he thinks that he is playing God.

2. Any man who is buying land on the Moon and Mars is a Modern Man.

3. Modern Man thinks that once he was Ape Man and in the future one day he would be Super Man, only he has to grasp more than he can hold. He believes in the Theory of Evolution.

4. Modern Man believes in his Negative Capability. He has infinite strength to face uncertainty. The world is not a closed rational system, the erratic and eccentric stand a better chance of understanding the world than a rational man.

5. Modern Man is proud of agnosticism, commercialisation, technology, anything that widens the gap between rich and poor.

Modern Man has three faces- Mike, Aston and Davies in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. Mike and Aston are brothers and Davies is a tramp. All of them are directionless. In the play Shoes have been used symbolically. They are symbolic of the right path, action and destination, which all the three are utterly lacking. Despite being aimless they are ready to lend shoes and thus show path to others without caring for its appropriateness.

All the three suffer from isolation. At the beginning of Act I Mike is alone on the stage and at the end of play Davies stands alone on the stage. Mike rejects the audience and walks away after thirty seconds without uttering a single word. He attracts the attention of the audience at the garbage scattered in the room. Davies stands alone rejected by both, the brothers as well as the audience. The means of communication have decreased the capacity of Modern Man for genuine communication. Fear of rejection is due to lack of genuine communication.

All the three are opportunist and leave no chance to take advantage of each other. Aston has not brought Davies home out of charity. He wants to use him as an assistant and take his help in constructing a shed in the backyard of the house which is his long awaited dream. He collected Davies as he collects all other junk with the objective of putting them to use someday. Davies after realising that Mike is the owner of the house plays tricks to separate brothers. Mike is using his imbecile elder brother as caretaker.

Since society is always undergoing a transformation and time has lost its sanctity as Past, Present and Future, Modern Man feels loss of identity. All the three characters are insecure due to loss of identity. They either do not have any past history or they were oblivious of it. Mike was declared as mental patients and electric shocks were given to him whenever he tried to talk sensibly. He suffered from erratic memory lapses and lost his identity as a complete rational man. Davies confesses that original papers establishing his true identity are at Sidcup for the last seven years and he is living with a false name-Bernard Jenkins. Papers have become the only source of identity of Modern Man. The true identity of real self has lost the meaning.
Mike is mysterious and no one knows where he lives and what does he do?

Modern Man is a great planner and same is true for all the three characters. Mike is planning to renovate the house, Aston is planning to construct a shade in the backyard and Davies is planning to collect his papers from Sidcup. All are waiting for appropiate time, which never comes.

All the three characters are Biblical. Davies is Dionysus or the wandering Jew, Mick is dark angel and Ashton is bright angel as well as Christ himself as carpenter trying to build a church. Expulsion of Davies is also allegorical to the expulsion of Adam from Garden of Eden.

All the three have invisible parents, which shows that parents have become aliens for Modern Man. Beside this all the three suffer from racial hatred, fear of rejection, distrust, hallucinations, confinement, distorted values, sexual perversions(exchange of notes between Aston and Davies) and ennui which is the hallmark of Modern Life. The birth of new theories like Absurdism, Cynicism, Skepticism Nihilism and atheistic existentialism is consequential.  

In the end Mick hurls the Buddha statute against the gas stove and it breaks. This is highly symbolic. Buddha is a symbol of peace and compassion. The broken statute is symbolic that the option of peace is now obsolete. All the compassion which both the brothers demonstrated for Davies is also lost. It also symbolises that iconoclastic faith prevails in aimless and purposeless life.

Mike passionately outbursts '' I got to think about all directions. I don't stand still. I am moving about ,all the time. I am moving...all the time. I have got to think about future...".

That's the damnable misery of it

Just an absurd thought:
Wriggle if you cannot walk: Walk if you cannot run ~Vipin Behari Goyal

1.Thomas Nagel: Mortal Questions, 1991. ISBN 0-521-40676-5
2. Barrett, William (1977). Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-8371-9671-X.
3.Esslin, Martin (1961). The Theatre of the Absurd. OCLC 329986
4.Great moments in the theater By Benedict Nightingale
262 pages. Oberon Books

© Vipin Behari Goyal

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