Harold Pinter – The Caretaker – Character of Davies

Harold Pinter – The Caretaker – Character of Davies

DAVIES A Pinter play frequently starts off with a good deal of humour but moves towards a sombre and disturbing conclusion. The character of Davies follows this pattern. Most of Act One is very funny indeed, entirely because of how Davies is presented; but the end of the play has a tragic dimension as the implications of Davies’ rejection are made to reverberate during his long and hopeless pleading to be allowed back into the room by Aston. It seems that his future will be a continuation as a street beggar, a social reject, with old age threatening his survival. He has lost a possible chance of security. Pinter has created a remarkable stage personality in his vivid and unsentimental portrayal of the tramp. Davies is an old man who, after years of living on the streets, combines every anti-social characteristic imaginable. He is incapable of holding down a job, or of forming a meaningful relationship; he is aggressive, resentful, whinging and, above all, he stinks. Nevertheless Davies does possess something of a life-force, a defiant energy. This is manifest in his verbal energy, his long speeches and in his physical reaction to any assault on him. Donald Pleasance, the first actor to play Davies, was perfect for the role because he possessed as an actor, according to Pinter, the perfect combination of ferocity, vitality and bewilderment. As his character unfolds we can see that the key to his days is survival. Part of his make-up after years of living alone involves fantasy and confusion, but his survival depends on fulfilling basic physical needs: a good pair of shoes ( ‘Shoes’ It’s life and death to me’), a shirt(‘a kind of a shirt with stripes’) and even, sometimes, ‘a piece of soap’. His life is filled with minutiae – a cup of tea, the offer of a bite to eat, ‘loosening up’ before taking a seat: even the act of sitting down is a priority (‘Sit down? Huh “? I haven’t had a good sit down “? I haven’t had a proper sit down ?›??…


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