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The Room by Harold Pinter: A Play Review

Harold Pinter’s The Room is a play written in the genre of realistic comedy. Indeed, the author talks about an average couple living in a studio. Rose and Bert seem to be comfortable with each other’s strange personalities. However, their seemingly peaceful existence is distracted by strangers who want to take away their room and hurt Rose. Since the play does not reveal the exact reasons behind the characters’ actions, the two possible explanations for the story are that the protagonist’s past found her and fascist agents came to arrest the protagonists.

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The first possible explanation for this play is that Rose’s family probably abused the main character, and now they found her after the escape. Indeed, Riley, a blind black man, brought a message for the woman: “Your father wants you to come home,” which frightens the protagonist (Pinter, 2018, p. 26). It proves that Rose has some dark secrets about her past; thus, she is obsessed with staying home. It is possible that her father sexually assaulted her, and Riley was the person who helped her to disappear, but she left him for Bert. Considering the latter’s violent behavior against the negro demonstrate that this explanation may be valid.

The second explanation is that Pinter might write this play as a metaphor for fascists’ post-war actions against Jews. Mr. Kidd and the Sands represent agents that tracked and found Rose, while Riley is their chief, who came to take the protagonist for interrogation or send her to a concentration camp. In fact, Mr. Kidd mentions that his mother was probably a Jewess, setting the premise for Riley’s arrival.

Pinter’s The Room is a play with a hidden meaning that demands spectators to deduce the causes of characters’ behavior. The author demonstrates the abnormality of the protagonists’ seemingly perfect relationship. The play’s central conflict is the visit of strangers who want to take away the room and possibly harm the main character. Overall, this comedy either showed Rose’s dark past or was a metaphor for fascist agents’ actions against Jews.

The title of Pinter’s play The Room is the strong statement that space plays an essential role in the characters’ lives. Indeed, the studio where the couple lives is perceived by Rose as a safe place. The room is devoid of external noise because she seems to be the only person speaking, while her husband remains silent. Rose, who appears to have a personality disorder, praises the comfort of their tiny room and chatters about the dangers of the outside world, indicating that she rarely, if ever, leaves the apartment. The author went beyond the utilization of the room as a passive background but made it an active participant of the play’s events.

The detailed description of the room’s elements, like a rocking-chair, door, window, and curtain, at the opening scene was essential to involve these items in the subsequent sets. The rocking-chair depicts Rose’s anxiety since she moves around the studio and returns to her seat to rock; thus, the woman is never at rest (Pinter, 2018). Furthermore, the window and curtains represent a shield from the external world. On the other hand, the door becomes a gateway for the protagonists’ distress because it allows the strangers to enter and ruin the peaceful atmosphere in the room. Although Rose is in constant motion, she is a passive receiver of troubles that walk through the door. The character hopes that curtains can protect her from the outside dangers, making these elements of the room active players in her fate.

In conclusion, space and interior elements appear to be given a crucial role in Pinter’s The Room. The window and curtain seem to protect the main character, the rocking chair reveals Rose’s anxiety, and the door brings trouble for the protagonist. Overall, the author vested the studio with more power than the heroine because not Rose but these items controlled the atmosphere in the apartment.

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Pinter, H. (2018). The short plays of Harold Pinter. Faber & Faber.

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