Scott O?Neil`S “The Dumb Waiter” Essay, Research Paper
The Dumb Waiter
The Dumb Waiter is a play that could be interpreted in many ways. It could be veiwed simply as a photo realistic slice of life drama or as a comical case study of a dysfunctional relationship. The dramatic action in TheDumb Waiter is relatively static. The two characters, Ben and Gus, do not change environments through out the play. Which leaves the audience to sit there and attempt to grasp what the scattered dialogue is talking about as opposed to focusing on the environment that surrounds them.
The characters Pinter creates are a pair of hit men who, as the dialogue states, have pulled many jobs with each other. They have developed the relationship of a bully and his sidekick. Ben, the protagonist, is very sly and quick with the tongue like a gecko. When placed in a bind he adapts to the circumstances surrounding him. This becomes apparent when it is implied that he cant read, he creates absurd stories that are convincing to his not to quick sidekick. Gus, the antagonist, plays the pole of his subservient yes man through out the play; he is Ben?s Labrador, doing exactly as told as if he were unable to think for himself.
The major obstacle for Ben is the struggle to cope with the antics of Gus. Gus has many idiosyncrasies that Ben finds intolerable. One example that is made very clear is gus? inquisition. Gus questions everything, especially when the message will come. Ben overcomes this obstacle quite easily when he turns the gun on his own partner.
The play is set in the basement of an old broken down house. The basement seems dark and dank. This setting is not familiar to the characters for they are hit men and move around from job to job. Later in the play the dialogue indicates that it is set in the basement kitchen of a caf?, but I feel that this is just another story made up by Ben in order to explain the dumb waiter?s activity.
The Dumb Waiter follows epic form. The action slowly unfolds until there is one climax. Like in many modern plays the climax and the resolution are the same moment. In The Dumb Waiter this climax is at the final moment when Ben realizes he must turn his gun on his own partner. He does so and the play ends.
Many symbols could be perceived in The Dumb Waiter. Two stuck out prevalently to me. The tea is a symbol of the shortcomings of sophistication. In the beginning of the play Gus sorts through a tea set and wants to make a cup of tea. It is later stated that he doesn?t even like tea, although through out the play he is constantly trying to make it. Towards the end of the play the tea is sent back in the dumb waiter, showing that this attempt at sophistication is not enough to please the higher power. The second symbol is the dumb waiter. This is used to show that there may be a higher power in the team?s presence.
After discussion with a fellow classmate I found that this play parallels Waiting For Godoh. It is a pair of people waiting for a third person to come; a third person that is eluded to many times but never appears. A third person who may be god.