Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Dumb Waiter: Introduction
The Dumb Waiter: Plot Summary
The Dumb Waiter: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Dumb Waiter: Themes
The Dumb Waiter: Quotes
The Dumb Waiter: Characters
The Dumb Waiter: Symbols
The Dumb Waiter: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Harold Pinter
Historical Context of The Dumb Waiter
Other Books Related to The Dumb Waiter
- Full Title: The Dumb Waiter
- When Written: 1957
- Where Written: London
- When Published: 1960 (first performance)
- Literary Period: Post-War
- Genre: Absurdist Theater, Comedic Drama
- Setting: A basement room in Birmingham
- Climax: Gus enters the room through the right door, revealing himself to be the target, and Ben pulls his revolver on Gus.
- Antagonist: Wilson; authority in general
Extra Credit for The Dumb Waiter
Absurd is the Word. The adjective “Pinteresque” has been coined to describe elements characteristic of Pinter’s plays, such as a threatening atmosphere, minimalist plot, colloquial and repetitive language, and long pauses. Still, when asked in an interview to define what it means to be Pinteresque, Pinter claimed not to know what the term meant.
Passé Pauses. Pinter’s works are known for their use of silence and long pauses, yet in the 2007 documentary Working With Pinter, Pinter suggests that people read too far into his play’s silences and pauses—that he intended them to be simple stage directions, not the deeply symbolic gestures people have made them out to be. He even admits to cutting half the pauses when he acts in his own plays—and he encourages actors and directors to do the same, if they see it fit to do so.