The Birthday Party Characters
Petey Boles is the owner of the rundown boarding house in which the play takes place. He is 60 years old and married to Meg. Petey works a deckchair attendant at an unspecified seaside resort near his home on the shores of England.
As the play continues, Petey’s character is revealed to be more astute. He realizes that Goldberg and McCann are more insidious than they seem, and probably knows of his wife and Stanley's strange relationship. While Petey seems to know quite a lot more than he lets on, he ultimately reveals that he will do little to compromise the comfortable, delusional existence he shares with Meg.
MegMeg Boles is a kind woman who helps run the boardinghouse. She is sixty years old and married to Petey in a seemingly childless marriage. Absentminded and simplistic, Meg often asks repetitive questions and constantly requires attention. While she does carry on a sexually-tinged relationship with Stanley, Meg lives a rather humdrum life that allows her to maintain certain delusions about her attractiveness and popularity, delusions which she works hard to protect even as the play goes to darker places.
Nat Goldberg, also called “Simey” and “Benny,” is a Jewish gentleman who works for an unnamed "organization" that has employed him to take Stanley away from the boardinghouse. He is defined by his outwardly polite and suave demeanor, which stands in stark contrast to that of his associate McCann. However, he ultimately reveals an angry, violent streak beneath this suave demeanor.
Goldberg's problems seem to be connected to his past - he is nostalgic about family, and waxes poetic about the old days. To what extent these delusions explain and/or feed his anger and violence are left to the reader's imagination.
McCannDermot McCann is an Irish member of an unnamed "organization" that has hired him to take Stanley away from the boardinghouse. Unlike Goldberg, who uses words and charm to his advantage, McCann is a paragon of bodily aggression. He lacks much social skill, and is something of a simpleton.
LuluA young woman in her twenties, Lulu is an acquaintance of Meg’s and a visitor to the boardinghouse. She is childish and flirtatious, and though she seems initially interested in Stanley, she is easily attracted to Goldberg's charms. Her girlish qualities become ironically unsettling after she is sexually assaulted.
StanleyStanley Webber is ostensibly the protagonist of the play. He is the only boarder at the Boles's boardinghouse, and is initially defined by laziness, unkemptness, and smug cruelty towards Meg. The many details of his past are never confirmed - he might be a musician, might have been famous, etc. - although there is a sense that he has sins unatoned for. His aggressive depression transitions into a nervous breakdown when Goldberg and McCann arrive, until he is nothing but a bumbling idiot in Act III.
The Birthday Party Essays and Related Content
- The Birthday Party: Major Themes
- The Birthday Party: Questions
- The Birthday Party: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Harold Pinter: Biography
- The Birthday Party Summary
- About The Birthday Party
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Quotes and Analysis
- Summary and Analysis of Act I
- Summary and Analysis of Act II
- Summary and Analysis of Act III
- Theater of the Absurd, an Introduction
- Related Links on The Birthday Party
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources