In the play ‘The Caretaker’ Pinter has brilliantly portrayed how isolation and self-deception lead to poor family relations in spite of the best intentions of the people. It also shows how the strong feeling of helping the needy results in failure when the very people who are being helped do not realize their responsibility. Aston’s philanthropic action proves futile when the old tramp Davies fails to understand the value of it with his ever complaining selfish attitude. Between Aston’s altruism and Davies’ parasitic nature stands Mick who with his good sense of understanding and realism takes care of his brother Aston and shows Davies his rightful place at the end.
Though the two brothers live in the same house they feel extremely isolated. It is evident from the play that the two brothers are rarely seen at a time in the house. One enters as the other exits in turn. The two brothers Aston and Mick and the tramp Davies, who finds a temporary shelter in their house, reveal isolation at different levels.
Self-deception, the most dominant theme of the play, is seen in all the three characters as they go on deceiving one another throughout. Davies proves incorrigible in his perpetual lies in spite of the difficulties he faces. He lies to Aston and Mick about his lost papers and bag which he says are in Sidcup. He postpones in getting his papers back on every flimsy reason and never ending complaints. For example he says, “the weather’s so blasted bloody awful’ how can i get down to Sidcup in these shoes?” (Page 906 line 89—94)
Aston believes and lives in the dream of building a shed in spite of his mental disability. Mick feels that his ambition to have a successful career does not allow him to take care of his mentally disabled brother. Thus, they perpetually live in their dream life but never in reality. Their inability to communicate with one another further worsens their condition.
Harold Pinter -The Caretaker