Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Chapman, Wayne

Committee Member

Jacobi, Martin

Committee Member

Paul, Catherine

Abstract

There appears to be a disconnect between the actual events of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and the scholarly work devoted to the play--while each of the main characters are morally problematic, it is only the play's sole female character, Ruth, whose morality is questioned. This schism in which Ruth is questioned but others are not stems primarily from the time in which most of this criticism occurred: before post-structuralist understandings of gender undermined our presuppositions about the sexes. The Homecoming was written on the cusp of second-wave feminism, the movement focusing mainly on the legal and social equality of women, and it seems as though Pinter sensed a shift in paradigm in which feminist theorists called into question the phallogocentric language with which they were attempting to describe their subjects. A post-structuralist feminist reading of the play recognizes the problematic ways in which men are considered to have essential qualities, too. Pinter's The Homecoming encourages its audience to reconsider their conditioned perception of gender in society because the play induces the audience, in our real-life roles as conditioned observers, to misread the play; through undermining the false binary of humor and tragedy, Pinter asks the audience to reassess the supposed binary of male/female as it occurs in the play.

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