An investigation into Joe Orton's characters and how they use status in order to manipulate other characters for their own personal gain, which they have obtained by artificially adhering to social expectations.
(2013) An investigation into Joe Orton's characters and how they use status in order to manipulate other characters for their own personal gain, which they have obtained by artificially adhering to social expectations., no. 45.
Mainly narcissistic and self-serving, many of Joe Orton's characters use status as a means of manipulating those around them for personal gain. They are able to obtain their status and power by adhering to social expectations and conforming to the expectancies of mainstream society - at least on the surface. The characters live within the genre of farce and the comedy of manners, but they are not there simply for comedy purposes, but rather to communicate Orton's ever-increasing discontent with 1960s Britain. This intertextual analysis will investigate into reasons as to why this recurring theme dominates Orton's works, in relation to his plays, personal experiences and the social and historical context of the time. Orton's full-length plays, Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964) Loot (1966) and What The Butler Saw (1969) will be explored chronologically as the main focus of this textual examination. Furthermore, Orton's own personal diaries, edited by John Lahr, and the widely recognised biography of Orton, Prick Up Your Ears (1978), also written by Lahr, will be referenced extensively in relation to all three plays. To provide a balanced interpretation of Orton and his plays, Simon Shepherd's Because We're Queers: The Life and Crimes of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton (1989) will be drawn upon as it challenges many points in Lahr's interpretations. This dissertation does not aim to provide a definitive answer as to why Orton's characters behave this way, but rather it aims to provide a deeper understanding of a vastly under researched subject area.