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Betrayal


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A: Harold Pinter Pf: 1978, London Pb: 1978 G: Drama in 9 scenes S: London and a hotel in Venice, 1968–77 C: 3m, 1fJerry and Emma, who were once lovers but have not met for a couple of years, have a drink in a pub to catch up on each other's lives. Jerry is a literary agent married to Judith, a doctor. Emma runs an art gallery and is married to Robert, a publisher. However, she is leaving Robert after finding out that he had been having affairs with women for years. She has also confessed to Robert about her long-standing affair with Jerry. Earlier the same year, Robert tells Jerry that he thinks Emma is having an affair with an author that Jerry represents and Robert publishes. Two years earlier, Jerry and Emma agree that they must end their affair. A year previously, while Emma is putting a child to bed, Robert and Jerry converse amicably. Yet another year earlier, in 1973, on holiday in Venice Robert finds a letter for Emma and recognizes Jerry's writing. She confesses that she and Jerry are lovers. Unperturbed, Robert admits that he has always liked Jerry rather more than Emma. Earlier still, Jerry tells Emma that he is worried that his wife suspects him of having an affair. Later in 1973, Jerry and Robert meet over lunch. Back in 1971, it is near the start of the affair. Jerry says that his wife has an admirer, while Emma says that she is expecting Robert's baby. In 1968, Robert and Emma are giving a party. Jerry tells Emma that she is irresistibly beautiful and reminds Robert that he is his oldest friend.

A: Harold Pinter Pf: 1978, London Pb: 1978 G: Drama in 9 scenes S: London and a hotel in Venice, 1968–77 C: 3m, 1f

Based on his affair with Joan Bakewell, Pinter here expresses his discomfiture on learning that his best friend knew for years that he had been sleeping with his wife. Playing the scenes in reverse order of time is therefore not just an intriguing dramatic device; it allows the audience to share the author's ignorance of his ‘betrayal’.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Harold Pinter (1930—2008) English dramatist, actor, and director


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