The Homecoming

By comparing ‘The Homecoming’ with at least one other appropriate play, discuss the importance of violence in post 1945 dramaUp until 1945, the world has endured decades of war and violence which affected the lives of everyone through the duration of it. It affected the way people lived, the way people worked and even how plays were written. Since the war, violence has subsequently become one of the key themes in post 1945 plays such as Pinter’s ‘The Homecoming’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ by Edward Albee.Although both plays include the theme of violence, they contrast with one another. This is because Harold Pinter expresses violence to the audience in a subtle, unusual way which is dissimilar to Albee’s play. In The Homecoming, there are no scenes of physical violence. It consists of a house filled with male characters where hostility is an accepted constituent of their lifestyle through the use of verbal warfare so to speak.This reflects the situation in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. In Albee’s play, George and Martha find themselves in the same situation as violence is an accepted part of their lifestyle too. This play however, demonstrates more direct acts of violence such as the incident where Martha is consistently teasing George about his novel and, despite numerous warnings from George, he lashes out and strangles her Martha by the throat until Nick shoves him off.I think the theme of violence is an important topic within post 1945 plays, if used effectively. This is because it unlocks a whole new generation of drama which enables new levels of excitement. The storyline in The Homecoming may be implausible, yet the violence in the play are very accurate to reality as Pinter documents the domestic aspects of human nature.In Pinter’s ‘The Homecoming’, there is a ruthless battle for territory and power, with Max losing his position within the household and Lenny somewhat taking the dominant role. This conflict reflects the conflict in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. This is because of George and Martha’s ongoing conflict as they try to fight and humiliate eachother in new, inventive ways. George and Martha battle this out as if it’s a daily fixation.In The Homecoming, hints of violence are demonstrated such as Max telling the audience that he was once one of the toughest men in East London, having all men move out his way in the street. This must have come as a shock to theatre audiences, and certainly a drastic change to themes and issues encased in pre 1945 theatre productions. Nevertheless, this method is effective because despite the lack physical violence, this is made up with stories aided by the vulgar and gruesome language.Pinter sets his play within one room in the comfortable domestic household. Pinter experiments with a new method of conveying a subtle type of violence. He does this through the frequent uses of pauses and silences within the play to develop a sense of peril which is in contrast to methods used in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Pinter also uses much more direct violence. “Listen! I’ll chop your spine off if you talk to me like that.” This is a brutal and harsh threat from Max to his son Lenny. It is violence like this which is effective as it captures the audience’s attention and is maintained by the constant source of friction throughout the course of the play.Violence is of huge importance to post 1945 drama. Following from the horrific events during the course of the war, hostility and aggression can no longer be ignored as a social issue. The use of violence in post 1945 play’s enable playwrights such as Pinter (The Homecoming) and Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) to express human emotion in a realist manner, allowing audiences of all classes to relate to this kind of human nature and appreciate the effectiveness of it.

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