The Dumb Waiter | Study Guide

Harold Pinter

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Course Hero. "The Dumb Waiter Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Apr. 2018. Web. 30 Sep. 2023. <>.

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Harold Pinter

First Performed



Short Story



About the Title

A dumbwaiter is a small elevator used to transport objects between floors of a building. It's often used in restaurants. The play uses a dumbwaiter as a plot device. The two main characters, Gus and Ben, receive mysterious food orders from a dumbwaiter in their basement room.

The title also refers to the men themselves. They're stuck waiting all day for an assignment from an invisible boss. Their confusion about their assignment and the food orders makes them "dumb." They become waiters in a second sense as they struggle to serve the requested food to the café patrons they imagine upstairs. The title implies the men are trapped in a role of servitude, stuck waiting without knowing what they're waiting for—literal "dumb waiters."


This study guide and infographic for Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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