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Laughter and Terror in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

             Examine the balance in the play between laughter and terror, the ludicrous and the sinister, particularly with relation to the figure of Mick.
             Harold Pinter's The Caretaker is a play about two brothers and a vagrant. The play deals with power in human relations by means of laughter and terror. Failure in communication between the characters produces many amusing situations. Everything, however, is not as amusing in reality as it may first seem to be. The play's audience is disturbed with their own reactions as they notice what it is that they are really laughing at; the abuse of power by terror and bullying. The play changes its mood suddenly back and forth between innocent amusement and real terror, which creates a feeling of guilt as a result of enjoying and laughing at a situation that turns out to be not so innocent and amusing, after all. The play shows how thin the line between what is funny and what is quite the opposite of it can sometimes be. Thus judging by universal human values, it is rather difficult to tell whether the play is amusing at all, because compassion and malicious delight are both fundamental parts of human nature, and the audience undoubtedly has to go through a disturbing internal struggle between them both.
             There are three characters in the play. Davies, an old vagrant, is the character with whom the audience is at least supposed to identify, although he is definitely not a tradional protagonist with a flawless moral and always respectable goals. His behaviour is often disgusting, ungrateful and dishonest, which makes it difficult for anyone to indetify with him. The other extreme is his weakness and vulnerability, which makes people feel compassion towards him, and thereby obviously indentify with him, however uncomfortable it may feel. Mick, the younger of the brothers, is the most powerful character. He is a mean and clearly a sadistic man, who enjoys the feeling of power over others, especially Davies, who is an easy target for him.

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