Betrayal | Study Guide

Harold Pinter

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Course Hero. "Betrayal Study Guide." July 18, 2020. Accessed August 7, 2022.


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Betrayal | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram



Emma and Jerry meet in a pub. They have not seen each other for some time and they make small talk. Eventually, Jerry asks about Emma's husband Robert. Jerry and Robert have been close friends for many years but their interactions have become less frequent. Emma and Jerry talk about one another's families. Jerry is married to Judith and both families have two children. Emma and Jerry exchange memories. She asks him not to call her "darling." Emma recently drove past the apartment where she and Jerry carried out their affair for seven years. Emma wonders whether anyone ever suspected that she and Jerry were committing adultery but Jerry believes that they were too clever. Emma reveals that she and Robert had a big fight the previous night after telling each other about their numerous affairs. Their marriage is now over. Jerry worries about his friend Robert.

Later that day Jerry visits Robert and Emma's home. He and Robert share a drink. Robert admits to Jerry that he knows about the affair between Jerry and Emma. Jerry has spent hours worrying about this matter but Robert is not concerned. He reveals that he has known about the affair for years, much to Jerry's confusion. The two men discuss an author named Casey. Robert is Casey's publisher and Jerry is Casey's agent. The men talk about holiday plans for the summer.


Emma and Jerry survey the apartment where they conduct their affair. They have spent less and less time there in recent months. They make plans to give up the tenancy and sell the furniture to the landlord. They agree that their relationship is not as loving or as vibrant as it once was.


Jerry visits Robert and Emma's home. Jerry and Robert chat while Emma puts the children to bed. She enters the living room and the three chat about Casey, whose marriage has broken apart. Jerry and Robert discuss squash and agree to play again soon after a long break. Robert walks Jerry to the door and returns to find Emma in tears. Robert consoles her.


Emma and Robert travel to Venice. They have planned a trip to the island of Torcello, a place they have visited before. As they talk about a book by one of Jerry's clients, Robert reveals that he knows that Jerry wrote a letter to Emma. He notices that Emma is trembling as he reminisces about his close friendship with Jerry. Emma reveals that she and Jerry are lovers. Though the affair has lasted five years, Robert only began to suspect his wife when he saw the letter from Jerry. He returns to talking about the trip to Torcello.

Emma and Jerry meet at their apartment a few months later. Emma reveals that she did not visit Torcello but does not tell Jerry that Robert knows about their affair. Jerry reveals that he and Robert plan to have lunch together in the coming days. Emma unpacks a parcel containing a tablecloth from Venice. She bought it for the apartment. They share another memory and then go to the bedroom together.

Robert and Jerry meet for the lunch they have planned. Robert is already drunk but continues to drink. They talk about squash and Venice Robert surprises Jerry by talking about his trip to Torcello. He went alone and spent the day reading on the Italian island. Robert says it was the high point of the trip. Robert admits that he hates modern novels and wonders whether this makes him a bad publisher. Before the main courses arrive, Robert invites Jerry to his house in the future and the two men continue with their lunch.


Jerry and Emma meet at their apartment. She has cooked a stew for lunch and they talk about their days. They talk about Judith and whether she knows that her husband is having an affair. Jerry insists that she does not but mentions that Judith has an admirer at the hospital which irritates him. Emma asks whether Jerry has ever been unfaithful to Emma. Jerry denies being unfaithful and Emma assures him of her own fidelity. She tells Jerry that she is pregnant with Robert's child and Jerry insists that he is happy for her.


Robert and Emma host a party in their house. Emma enters her bedroom to find a very drunk Jerry waiting for her. He begins to tell her how much he adores her. Jerry embraces Emma and tries to kiss her though she refuses his advances. Robert enters and Jerry drunkenly tells Robert how lucky he is to have such an attractive wife. Robert leaves and Jerry touches Emma's arm before she can follow. Jerry and Emma stare at each other for a poignant moment.

Betrayal Plot Diagram

Climax123456789Rising ActionFalling ActionResolutionIntroduction


1 Emma tells Jerry that Robert knows about their affair.

Rising Action

2 Robert says that he has known of the affair for many years.

3 Emma and Jerry prepare to leave their shared apartment.

4 Jerry visits Robert and Emma's home, and Emma cries.

5 In Venice Emma tells Robert about her affair with Jerry.

6 Emma and Jerry meet for lunch at their apartment.


7 Robert and Jerry meet for an alcohol-laden lunch.

Falling Action

8 Emma and Jerry meet at their new apartment.


9 At a party Jerry tells Emma that he is attracted to her.

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