'The Birthday Party' by Harold Pinter

Essay by ballard619High School, 11th gradeB, June 2007

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The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter is a play composed of three acts, and is set in an old boarding house, run by Meg and Petey, who are a couple in their late sixties. There is only one boarder, Stanley, a scruffy, depressed-looking man in his late thirties who has apparently been a professional pianist. Three people arrive in the boarding house from the outside world: Lulu, a young woman who tries to get Stanley to go out with her with out success, Goldberg a powerful and threatening Jewish man in his fifties and McCann, an Irishman in his thirties who is quiet and menacing. It becomes clear that they have come in pursuit of Stanley and that they work for a shadowy organisation. Although it is never known for what reason they put him in the spotlight, interrogate him and eventually take him away. Following the arrival of Goldberg and McCann they mention to Meg, to put on a birthday party for Stanley, even though Stanley denies the claim that is his birthday.

Meg gives Stanley a toy drum as a birthday present, which Stanley ends up beating with increasing savagery. We then see the first scene of interrogation. Goldberg and McCann begin to quick fire questions at Stanley, eventually reducing him to a state of mental distraught. The scene then segues into a small social party. The party atmosphere becomes hostile as Stanley is victimised in the course of playing a game blind man’s buff, before losing control and firstly strangling Meg and then preparing to rape Lulu.

Act 2 is set in the morning after the party. Goldberg and McCann, it becomes apparent, have been working on Stanley through the night. Stanley appears dressed in a suit, clean shaven and rendered in his conventional appearance. Goldberg and...