Comedy of Menace and Violence

Question: Consider “The Caretaker” as a comedy of Menace and Violence.


Harold Pinter (1930-2008) is a genius in creating a dramatic world in which Violence and menace exist in disguise. Menace means an intrigue and sinister, feeling of characters who have inexplicit motives to overpower others. It may arrive in a number of ways – physical, psychological, and mental. In his play, Pinter displays life confined by the surrounding menace and ‘an atmosphere of menace’ which changes the lifestyle of his characters. His characters do not leave the room for the menace because they feel safe and secure in the closed room.

In the play “The Caretaker”, Harold Pinter Expresses menace on three levels like physical violence, the labyrinthine problems set by the outside world, and the dreaded loss of emotional security.

Physical Violence

At the beginning of the play “The Caretaker”, Harold Pinter reveals violence through the bar fight of Davies. Davies is an old tramp who is homeless and badly in need of companionship and a house. From the bar fright, Aston rescues Davies and invites him into his flat. Here Davies gets an opportunity to stay in Aston’s room, but he always complains about the inadequacy of things. When Aston goes out leaving Davies alone in the room, Davies begins to search through all the different items in the room. At that time, Mick silently enters the room and attacks the old tramp, throwing him to the floor and demands to know what is doing in the room. This sudden outbreak of violence shows the very real danger of the world of Davies. So, Davies becomes the victim of physical Violence and crude humour.

Davies’ reactions are always violent

Davies condemns others for his own mistake. When Aston tells Davies that he makes noises and groans and jabbered in sleep, then Davies becomes violent and speaks that nobody ever tells him that before. He further says that he never dreams nor make noises in sleep. If Aston hears any noises at the night, these might have been made by the Blacks living next door. In the next morning, When Aston further says Davies that he cannot sleep in the night for Davies’ snorting, Davies shows his expression very violently. 

More Notes: The Caretaker

Mick is a violent and always produces menace for Davies

According to Harold Pinter, violence and menace lurk just below the surface. Mick finds pleasure in frightening others. He chases Davies with a vacuum clean, which is as well as terrifying. Mick seems to sympathize with Davies’s complaints about Aston but when Davies says that he is not an experienced interior decorator, Mick makes a verbal assault on Davies. Mick tells him every word he speaks can be interpreted differently. Most of the words are lies. He is violent, unreliable, and completely unpredictable. Mick calls him a wild animal and a barbarian. Mick also speaks him that Davies has failed to go to Sidcup to bring his identity card for references. For this reason, Mick refuses him from the job of caretaker.

Davies and Aston are victim of the society

Davies and Aston are the victim of the society. They are both mentally haphazard because Davies is a homeless, jobless, and old tramp person probably in his sixties who badly needs a companionship and a house and Aston is a mentally sick person.


In termination, we can say that “The Caretaker” is the best paradigm of comedy of comedy of Menace and Violence because Harold Pinter properly displays menace and violence through the characters. This play is fulfilled the three conditions of menace and violence.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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