The Caretaker


In his 1960 book review of The Caretaker, fellow English playwright John Arden writes: "Taken purely at its face value this play is a study of the unexpected strength of family ties against an intruder."[6] As Arden states, family relationships are one of the main thematic concerns of the play.

Another prevalent theme is the characters' inability to communicate productively with one another. The play depends more on dialogue than on action; however, though there are fleeting moments in which each of them does seem to reach some understanding with the other, more often, they avoid communicating with one another as a result of their own psychological insecurities and self-concerns.

The theme of isolation appears to result from the characters' inability to communicate with one another, and the characters' own insularity seems to exacerbate their difficulty communicating with others.

As the characters also engage in deceiving one another and themselves, deception and self-deception are motifs, and certain deceptive phrases and self-deceptive strategies recur as refrains throughout the dialogue. Davies uses an assumed name and has convinced himself that he is really going to resolve his problems relating to his lack of identity papers, even though he appears too lazy to take any such responsibility for his own actions and blames his inaction on everyone but himself. Aston believes that his dream of building a shed will eventually reach fruition, despite his mental disability. Mick believes that his ambitions for a successful career outweigh his responsibility to care for his mentally damaged brother. In the end however all three men are deceiving themselves. Their lives may continue on beyond the end of the play just as they are at the beginning and throughout it. The deceit and isolation in the play lead to a world where time, place, identity, and language are ambiguous and fluid.

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