By Foster Hirsch
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Additional resources for A Portrait of the Artist: The Plays of Tennessee Williams
III Criticism of The Room The Room has evoked some odd critical responses, particularly from those critics who have tried to find an allegory. Miss Ruby Cohn, for example, sees the basic theme of Pinter's plays as Man versus System; hence, Rose is Bert's victim: "Of the rival claimants for Rose, Riley and Bert, the latter bludgeons his way to triumph. Bert's role as villain explodes climactically, for it is Riley who first appears to menace Rose. " 17 But it could be suggested that the first menace is really life itself; the second, Bert's illness; the third, a whimsical and forgetful landlord; the fourth, the Sandses; the fifth, a visitor who menaces because of a past Rose would presumably prefer to forget.
Pinter's way is the opposite of setting out deliberately to embody a theme in action. All the same a theme does emerge, closely resembling that of The Iceman Cometh: the play demonstrates that a man who has withdrawn to protect his illusions is not going to be helped by being propelled into the outer world. Stanley, the man in question, is an obese, shambling, unpresentable creature who has moved into a dilapidated seaside boarding house where, as the only guest, he is able to lord it over his adoring landlady and gain recognition as a concert pianist of superhuman accomplishment.
Moreover, Pinter's plays escape a possible objection to Waiting  Comedies of Menace for Godot, in which the menace is weakened by a symbolic landscape-a rather unearthly setting with vaguely cosmic implications. This comparison is only to suggest, of course, that Pinter is not Beckett and is doing something else. Pinter's terror and menace are greater because they exist in the house next door. Taylor has suggested that Pinter, as an East End Jew, grew up during the war, when menace was a familiar pattern.