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Theatres of the Mind A Kleinian analysis of the plays of Harold Pinter

Jarrett, James (2018) Theatres of the Mind A Kleinian analysis of the plays of Harold Pinter. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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For the past fifty years, critics and scholars have been searching for a critical language to explain the work of Britain’s most successful playwright, Harold Pinter. One of the richer paths of enquiry has been to analyse the plays using a psychoanalytic vocabulary. In general terms, however, most of these studies have been restricted to using a Freudian terminology. This study develops the psychoanalytic tradition of Pinter studies by applying the theories of one of Freud’s successors, Melanie Klein. The study has been undertaken through an analysis of play texts to develop a synthesis of Kleinian theory and Pinter. Klein’s work develops Freudianism by exploring the primitive building blocks of the infant’s mind. Chapter 1 introduces the thesis argument and gives a detailed introduction to Pinter’s background and his work as writer. Chapter 2 provides an examination of the fundamental elements of Klein’s theories in the context of Freud’s own ideas. Chapter 3 uses Klein’s theory of dreams to analyse Pinter’s earlier work and argues that the plays explore complex unconscious phantasies of relations to bad and good objects. A further contribution is made to psychoanalytic vocabulary with the introduction of the notion of the split object. Chapter 4 explores the manic- depressive aspects of The Dwarfs, whilst Chapter 5 is a close reading that argues that The Caretaker can be read through the lens of the characters’ anxious attempt to repair ‘objects’ damaged in phantasy. Chapter 6 provides a detailed Kleinian exegesis of The Homecoming and then Pinter’s later work in considered: his memory plays, and his work after 1980, including his overtly political work and his last plays including Ashes to Ashes and Celebration. In this chapters Kleinian lexis is employed to get at the unconscious undercurrents of the plays. Throughout, along with a specific emphasis on the characters’ unconscious anxieties and relations to objects, the relationship between society, the historical moment and the text are considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: James Jarrett
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2018 15:10
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2021 02:00

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