'What can be meant by living in the dark': The Construction of Self-hood, Fantasy and Desire in Harold Pinter's Night, Landscape and Silence
This dissertation will examine Harold Pinter's plays, Night, Silence and
Landscape, through a Freudian lens. Looking at the psychological motivations that
lead into the character's alienated existences. I will examine and explore the
biological drives and instincts that lead the characters to construct identities and
invent realities in which they seek comfort. This dissertation will examine the
biological forces that prevent characters from achieving solace in the physical world;
they are drawn instead, toward a deep-rooted, infantile longing for the security of the
mother. This psychoanalytical interrogation will continue through a Lacanian
methodology, to provide further psychological causes and insight into the worlds of
fantasy that all of the characters so far discussed inhabit, to varying degrees. Through
a Lacanian lens, I will examine the inability of the characters to achieve truth, and a
fixed stable identity through language. I will suggest that there are no absolute truths
for the characters in the plays examined; rather truth is relative, and entirely
dependent on perspective.
Each of the three plays, Landscape, Silence and Night, deal with themes of
authority, identity, conflict and desire. Landscape was first performed in the Aldwych
theatre accompanied by Silence. Night, performed in 1969, was part of the revue:
Mixed Doubles: An Entertainment on Marriage at the Comedy Theatre, London. The
central theme of Night is memory; each character re-constructs memories in
accordance with present needs and desires. This play portrays two characters in their
forties, designated in the stage directions simply as 'Man' and 'Woman,' reminiscing
about the circumstances under which they met, and the immediate events thereafter.
The couple agrees that they first met at a party hosted by friends of...