Max, "a man of seventy" — The patriarch of the family.
Lenny, "a man in his early thirties" — Escorhs son, apparently a pimp. Sam, "a man of sixty-three" — Max's brother, a chauffeur. Joey, "a man in his middle twenties" — Max's son, in demolition, training to be a boxer. Teddy, "a man in his middle thirties" — Max's son, a professor of philosophy in America. Ruth, "a woman in her early thirties" — Teddy's wife.
Setting[ edit ] The setting is an old house in North London during the summer. All of the scenes take place in the same large room, filled with various pieces of furniture. The shape of a square arch, no longer present, is visible. Beyond the room are a hallway and staircase to the upper floor and the front door. Plot[ edit ] After having lived in the United States for several years, Teddy brings his wife, Ruth, home for the first time to meet his working-class family in North London, where he grew up, and which she finds more familiar than their arid academic life in America.
The two married in London before moving to the United States. Much sexual tension occurs as Ruth teases Teddy's brothers and father and the men taunt one another in a game of one-upmanship, resulting in Ruth's staying behind with Teddy's relatives as "one of the family" and Teddy returning home to their three sons in America without her. Max and the other men put down one another, expressing their "feelings of resentment," with Max feminising his brother Sam, whom he intimates is homosexual, while, ironically, himself claiming to have himself "given birth" to his three sons.
Teddy arrives with his wife, Ruth. He reveals that he married Ruth in London six years earlier and that the couple subsequently moved to America and had three sons prior to his returning to the family home to introduce her. The couple's mutual discomfort with each other, marked by her restless desire to go out exploring after he has gone to sleep, then followed by her sexually suggestive first-time encounter with her dangerous, and somewhat misogynistic, brother-in-law Lenny, begins to expose problems in the marriage.
She strikes a nerve when she calls him "Leonard"; he tells her that no one, aside from his late mother, has ever done so. After a sexually charged conversation between Lenny and Ruth, Ruth exits.
Awakened by their voices, Max comes nea. Lenny does not tell Max about Teddy and Ruth's arrival at the house and engages in more verbal sparring with Max. The scene ends in a blackout. When the lights come up the scene has changed to the following morning. Max comes down to make breakfast. When Teddy and Ruth appear and he discovers that they have been there all night without his knowledge, Max is initially enraged, assuming that Ruth lahhr a prostitute.
After being told that Ruth and Teddy have married and that she is his daughter-in-law, Max appears to make some effort to reconcile lah Teddy. Act two[ edit ] This act opens with the men's ritual of sharing the lighting of cigars, traditionally associated with phallic imagery after lunch. Teddy's cigar goes out prematurely, the symbolism of which is clear. After Teddy's marriage to Ruth receives Max's blessing, she relaxes and, focusing their attention on her "Look at me"reveals some details about her life before meeting Teddy and how she views Escorst pp.
After Max and his brother exit, Teddy abruptly suggests to Ruth that they return home immediately p.
Apparently, he knows about her past history as "a photographic model for the body" p. When he returns with the suitcases and Ruth's coat, he expresses concern about what else Lenny may have gotten Ruth to reveal. As Teddy looks on, Lenny initiates dancing "slowly" with Ruth p. With Teddy, Max, and Joey all looking on, Lenny kisses Ruth and then turns her over to Joey, who asserts that "she's wide open"; "Old Lenny's got a tart in here" p.
Joey begins making out with Ruth on the sofa, telling Lenny that she is mxle up my street" p. Max asks Teddy if he is "going" so soon. He tells Teddy, "Look, next time you come over, don't forget to let us know beforehand whether you're married or not.
I'll always be glad to meet the wife. Max adds that Teddy doesn't need to be "ashamed" of Ruth's social status, assuring Teddy that he is a "broadminded man" 75and "she's a lovely girl. A beautiful woman", as well as "a mother too. A escorrs of three. It's something to be proud of"; right after Max further asserts that Ruth is "a woman of quality" and "a woman of feeling," clasped in their ongoing embrace, Joey and Ruth "roll off the sofa on to the floor" p.
Suddenly pushing Joey away and standing up, Ruth appears to take command, demanding food and drink, and Joey and Lenny attempt to satisfy her demands pp. After Ruth questions whether or not his family has read Teddy's "critical secorts — a seemingly absurdist non sequitur -- or perhaps just a jibe at her academician spouse -- the answer to which, in either event, is a foregone conclusion — Teddy defends his own excorts equilibrium" and professional turf pp.
Ruth and Joey go upstairs for two hours but Joey, who comes down alone without her, complains that Ruth refused to go "the whole hog" p. With Ruth still upstairs, Lenny and the others reminisce about Lenny's and Joey's sexual exploits. Lenny, whom the family considers an expert in sexual matters, labels Ruth a "tease," to which Teddy replies, "Perhaps he hasn't got the right touch" p. Lenny retorts that Joey has "had more dolly than you've had cream cakes", is "irresistible" to the ladies, "one of the few and far between" p.
Lenny relates anecdotes about Joey's sexual prowess with other "birds" pp. When Lenny asks Joey, "Don't tell me you're satisfied without going the whole hog? Lenny "stares at him".
Joey seems to be suggesting that Ruth is so good at "the game" that Lenny ultimately gets the "idea [to] take her amle with me to Greek Street" p. Max volunteers that Ruth could come to live with the family, suggesting that they "should keep her" while she works for them part-time as a prostitute.
The men discuss this proposal in considerable detail, seemingly escorfs to irritate Teddy and half-serious pp. Sam declares the whole idea "silly" and "rubbish" p. Teddy does not decline outright but neither does he affirmatively agree to the idea. Teddy also says, in the play's only poignant turn of phrase, "She'd get old Ruth comes downstairs "dressed".
Teddy is still waiting with his coat on and their packed suitcases p.
Teddy informs her of the family's proposal, without going into explicit detail about their intention to engage her in prostitution, saying euphemistically that she will "have to pull [her] lshr financially because they are not "very well off"; then he offers her a choice to stay in London with the family or to return to America with him pp. Ruth understands exactly what is being proposed and appears very open to the proposal.
She inflexibly negotiates her demands, including a three room flat and a maid as the terms of a "contract" p. Ruth clearly is adept at getting what she wants pp. Having spoken up a few times earlier to voice nes objections, Sam blurts out a long-kept secret about Jessie and Max's friend MacGregor, then "croaks and collapses" and "lies still" on the floor Briefly considering the possibility that Sam has "dropped dead" and become a "corpse" p.
After a pause, Ruth accepts their proposal: "Yes, it sounds like a very attractive idea" p. Teddy focuses on the inconvenience that Sam's unavailability poses for him: "I was going to ask him to drive me to London airport" p.
Instead, he gets directions to the Undergroundbefore saying goodbye to the others and leaving to return home escorhs his three sons, alone. As he moves towards the front door, Ruth calls Teddy "Eddie"; after he turns around, she cryptically tells him, "Don't become a stranger" p. He goes out the door, leaving his wife with the other four men in the house. The final tableau vivant pp. Lenny, stands looking on and observing.
After repeatedly insisting he is not an old man, and getting no reply from Ruth, malw remains silent, Max beseeches her, "Kiss me" — the final words of the play.
Such lack of plot resolution and other ambiguities are features of nale of Pinter's ,ale. That, symbolically, Ruth comes "home" to "herself": she rediscovers her identity prior to her marriage to Teddy. Whereas Teddy must return home to his life and family in America pp. On first seeing Ruth, Max believes that his eldest son, Teddy, has brought a "filthy scrubber" into "my house", adding, "I've never had a whore under this roof before.
Ever since your mother died" pp A major irony is that Max's apparently-mistaken first assumption becomes more accurate as the family and the audience get to "know" Ruth better pp. The play makes clear to Teddy's family, even if Teddy refuses to acknowledge it, that Ruth has been, to say nea least, increasingly unhappy in married life and in the United States. Nwe her husband insists she is "not well" p. However, he ultimately elects to leave without her rather than fight for her.
It has not been Teddy's "homecoming" but that of Ruth. Critical response[ edit ] Often esdorts to be a highly ambiguousan enigmatic, and for some even a cryptic play, The Homecoming has been the subject of extensive critical debate since it premiered. Surveying Pinter's career on the occasion of the anniversary Broadway production of the play at the Cort Theatre in The New Yorkerthe critic John Lahr describes the impact of experiencing it: "'The Homecoming' changed my life.
Before the play, I thought words were kahr vessels of meaning; after it, I saw them as weapons of defence. Before, I thought theatre was about the spoken; after, I understood the eloquence of the unspoken. The position of a chair, the length of a pause, the choice of a gesture, I realised, could convey volumes. It is a culmination of the poetic ambiguities, the minimalism, and mae linguistic tropes of his earlier major plays: The Birthday Partywhose first production lasted only a week in London, though the play was seen by eleven million people when it was broadcast on TV inand The Caretakeran immediate international hit.
The Homecoming is both a family romance and a turf war. lhr
Teddy's profession as an academic philosopher, which, he claims, enables him to "maintain That's why I write my critical works. It's the same as I do. But you're lost in it. You won't get me being I won't be lost in it.
Aside from their behaviour in the play as well as that of Teddy's family, nothing in the text contradicts the ostensible and putative reality ewcorts they are legally married and have three sons. The more outrageous, even horrifying, for the play's original audiences, the words and actions taken by Ruth, Max, and Lenny, the more Teddy protests that they are married, leading some critics to believe that the man doth protest too much.
A perceptive reader and viewer of the play would wonder why Teddy would have brought his wife and the mother of nw children into such a grotesque menagerie in the first place.