The Language of Silence: The Syntax of Power and Politics in Pinter's Later Plays
The atmosphere of a Pinter play hangs heavy with words- the oblique, the noncommittal, the dismissive, and, intriguingly, the unspoken. And as a dramatist engaged in exploring the possibilities of language, it is what is left unsaid that most impacts him. Pinter questions the ability of language to speak of 'reality' and explores its limitations. His early plays confounded audiences and critics alike as these 'comedies of menace' brought on the stage characters who are lonely, frightened and despairing men and women, struggling to express themselves, utterly broken down and annihilated in the end by ruthless, articulate, powerful men. Implicitly political, this is as yet a theatre of images; but the social setting is significant as we see immigrants, drifters, the mentally disabled and the marginalized that exist on the fringes of society and are consequently helpless in the face of authority. This paper will deal with two of Pinter's later plays: One for the Road and Mountain Language - plays that, in contrast to his earlier ones, are overtly political and yet carry forward his artistic commitment. For here, again, Pinter is concerned with the arbitrary boundaries man makes for himself- of concrete, of language and of philosophy. One for the Road (1984) transports us into the dark world of a moral wasteland with its theme of torture and totalitarian suppression. Though not politically identifiable, the cruel interrogation seeks neither information nor confession but the destruction of the family. Pinter takes the metaphor further in Mountain Language (1988), which depicts abuse of power against socio-political prisoners by denying them the right to speak their own language .The short sentences, the phrases left unfinished, the awkward pauses, all become outward manifestations of the inner anxiety and deeper uncertainties of the characters, living as they are at the extreme edge. Significantly, Pinter gives skilful use of language to characters who wield power over others. Thus, Pinter's political theatre presents the marginalized, silent (silenced?) dissenters and their highly articulate oppressors, as he explores the power, as it were, of language in its use and the abjection that accompanies its denial; and the dangers of tyranny and absolutism: and the individual in the midst of all.
Keywords - Language, Political, Power, Annihilation, Silenced