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Max characterisation - The Homecoming

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Introduction

Max characterisation Pinter presents Max as the dispossessed alpha male, fighting in an ethological battle against his 3 sons. His attempts to retain his power are unsuccessful as his questions and insults are, for the most part, completely ignored. He feels unheard in his own home as he asks "do you hear what I'm saying? I'm talking to you"; he has become subordinate and has lost his dominance. Seen as a patriarchal interrogator and intimidator in his younger years, highlighted by him entering the play with a question "what have you done with the scissors?" and telling stories about his 'glory days', Max uses exclamations, expletives and questions to try to draw out those around him. Feminising his brother and sons, by calling them insults such as "whore" and "slutbitch", Max tries to regain ground in the power struggle between the Hackney predators. ...read more.

Middle

This subtext is enhanced when Lenny speaks of when his father used to "toss" him in the air then "catch" him coming down. The ambivalence of this phrase could show that Max was a caring, playful endearing father or that he was careless and violent with his sons. In The Homecoming language is seen as "an attempt to cover nakedness" Max's vulnerability is exposed as much of his speech is long passages spaced with pauses, as noone responds. He is in constant need for attention, making it clear that he's "here, too, you know", as if his constant shouting and spitting out of the actor's words had not already made that clear. He longs for affection both from his sons and Ruth as he asks if Teddy if he wants "a cuddle" from his father- suggesting this is the warmth his children felt towards him when they were younger. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sam's final one-liner, exclaiming that "MacGregor had Jessie" in the back of his car further proves the hypothesis that Max is not Lenny's father. In the semiotics of theatre by Max's cigar going out we can see from a Freudian persective, with the use of phallic symbolsm, that Max is aware that he has lost his alpha role as "he stubs it out" himself. This shows that he 'fell' from his position, more than it being taken from him. Throughout the play Max is seen as patriarchal, pugilistic and aggressive. His attempts to regain his position as alpha male go unfulfilled an his chair, with a central placing in the room, acting as a throne, is eventually taken over by Ruth in the screen version of the play. ...read more.

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