English - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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"The heartaches and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to": The body politics of trauma in Pinter's The Dwarfs, The Room, A Slight Ache, and The Homecoming

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

Critics are too ofien inclined to overlook the important role that Pinter's only novel, The Dwarfs, plays in the Pinter canon. My thesis is an attempt to correct this oversight. In this thesis I will argue that The Dwarfs is a required foundation for a fuller and more complete understanding of one of Pinter's major thematic preoccupations in his early drama: male trauma and the culturally inspired and mediated program of masculine self-denial and forgetfulness that serves as a strategy for dealing with it. Simply stated, male trauma in The Dwarfs, The Room, A Slight Ache, and The Homecoming takes the form of death anxiety. In this context, the site of the male wound is the human body on which Pinter males read the signs of human weakness, human limitation, and human mortality writ large. By undertaking a close reading of the cause, the effect, and the consequence of Len and Pete's crisis in The Dwarfs, I will argue that the Pinter males' heightened state of vigilance and arousal in this novel and in the three plays in question is the result of their need to defend against the return of traumatic memories. It is in this context that I intend to speak of the post-traumatic manner in which Pinter males conduct their lives. In this respect, Len and Pete, I will argue, are prototypes for the males we encounter in the plays. Moreover, to the extent that Pete's relationship with Virginia in the novel is regulated in accordance with his distorted post-traumatic view of the human body, his and hers, I intend to argue that their relationship is the prototype for the one that men share with women in the plays. In the introduction I provide a background to trauma theory and existential psychology. I also briefly examine Pinter's Kullus trilogy, Kullus, "The Task," and The Examination, by way of providing a bridge for my later application of trauma theory and existential psychology to The Dwarfs. In the first chapter I examine the nature of Len's trauma and discuss his masculine strategy for dealing with it. In the second chapter I examine the nature of Pete's trauma, its effect, and the implications it has for understanding his relationship with Virginia. I also explore the link between Pete and Virginia and The Room's Rose and Bert, and Clarissa and Toddy. In the third chapter I analyze Edward's masculine crisis in A Slight Ache, and the role that Flora plays in helping her husband to deal with it. Finally, in the fourth chapter I examine masculinity under siege in The Homecoming.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of English - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

"The grand object of human desire" : the female quest for power in Henrik Ibsen's A doll house, Ghosts, and Hedda Gabler

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1993
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Theses (Dept. of English) / Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Book 6 books : on becoming in an inchoate world

Author: 
Date created: 
1992
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Theses (Dept. of English) / Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Measure's game : the writing of George Bowering

Author: 
Date created: 
1989
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Theses (Dept. of English) / Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)