The Butler, does he have a name? He must have had a name once upon a time, that is something he has in common with the Prisoner, a name never once heard spoken. He must surely have a number, yet he does not wear it, which is something else he has in common with the Prisoner, because they are both allowed to get away with it. And yet unlike the Prisoner, the Butler is never referred to by his number, in fact he’s hardly referred to at all, save when Number 2 wants something like some tea, coffee, or breakfast served. Our friend the Butler does have one other thing in common with Number 6, he can pilot a helicopter! It appears that the Butler and Number 6 are not so very much different, only in stature. Originally the Butler was to have been over 6 feet in height, and with a voice, that would have made the two even more like each other. But of course Patrick McGoohan’s ego couldn’t allow the possibility of being over shadowed by a character possibly as good as, if not better than himself. Hence the casting of Angelo Muscat, who made the Butler a more intriguing character. And yet the Butler is one of four constants in ‘the Prisoner,’ along with the Prisoner Patrick McGoohan, the Supervisor played by Peter Swanwick, and Rover-The Village Guardian!
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Along with "The Village", "The Mountains", "The Sea", "The Café" and "(The) Prisoner" the name of "The Butler" is identical to his position, his function as a butler, a servant. It's significant of the series that things are denominated according to what they are or what their purpose and property is. Hence he doesn't need to have a number, or else the number needs not to be used. More, without a (visible) number his importance is emphasised. - BCNU!ReplyDelete
The Mountains, The Sea, The Cafe, for that is what they are, but not what they are called, not as like the names of The Alps, or The Baltic Sea. The Prisoner is what he is, it is not the name his parents gave him, and so with the Butler, it is what he is, his profession, a servant as you say. He doesn't need a number? But surely everyone has a number, at last for official purposes, otherwise they cease ot exist. But yes, I agree with you on the matter, that withour a visible number, his importance is emphasised. And I would say greatly emphasised, seeing as he's the only person to walk through the door of No.1 Buckingham Place towards the end of 'Fall Out.' Indeed you may be aware that this gave a number of fans the idea that the Butler was Number 1.
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It's not quite what I'm aiming at. Everyone of us wants and is used to explanations the kind of: "what is that thing?" and „what’s the name of this?“ The usual answer would be: „This is a… with...“ and: „It’s called…“ Any explanation needs to be done by (verbally) referring to something different than the object itself. Thus, you cannot "explain" a rose the way Gertrud Stein once pointedly said, "a rose is a rose is a rose". The other way round, French artist Rene Magritte hinted to the „treason of the images“ by showing a picture of a smoking pipe with the caption: „Ceci ce n’est pas une pipe.“ - „This is not a pipe.“ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_ImagesReplyDelete
It isn’t. It’s the image of a pipe. Obviously, that’s not the same thing. The strategy of tautology as applied by the Village is obfuscation, in order to conceal its real a) nature and b) location. Things are what they are, the difference between the signifier (the meaning: a pipe) and the signifcant (the one who/that points towards: the image of a pipe) is gone. What’s the name of the mountains? There’s none. They are THE MOUNTAINS. Nothing else, nothing more. The name of the café? It’s got none. Because it’s the only one it’s simply THE CAFE. THE VILLAGE? It’s just that. Also because it is one. And it’s the only one for those in it. It’s intended to be their world.
Admittedly, this can be observed only once or less than a handful of times in the series. I wouldn’t maintain that this trait is very consistent all through The Prisoner but arguably it is at work. Prominently seen in the map scene of "Arrival". In the case of the word „Prisoner“ you are right. The man is called „Number 6“, hardly „Prisoner“. But that’s what he is. Prisoners usually have got numbers haven’t they. – BCNU!
Yours is an exhaustive and interesting comment, and now I comprehend what you are aiming at, and I thank you for it. The
Mountains are the mountains, there is no further need for explanation as they are what they are, as is The Sea, The Beach, The Woods, and The Cafe.
Prisoners do usually have numbers, but then we don't know the number of the Butler becasue he doesn't wear it, as in the case of several prisoners in The Village.
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I can't explain (probably I could and partly I have) why but this particular scene has always been and still is among my favourites. Try to be an innocent first-time viewer, you'd expect information, explanation for that matter from the map. But what do you get? A puzzle, a fake "solution" as an explanation which leaves you perplexed, stripping you off your certainties and throwing you back into - nothing, really. Everything you thought was doubtless is questioned. But questions are a burden to others, so don't ask! No one's going to give you a true answer. The vicious circle which The Prisoner is too, closes in again. I guess that's why. I'm a lover of surreal subversion. - BCNU!ReplyDelete
Very nicely put if I may say so. For myself, I was an innocent first time viewer when I was twelve years of age, and I did expect answers, explanations, and information. There were no answers, and even if there were they were very thin on the ground, which is probably just as well. For perhaps if those questions were not such a burden, the answers given, 'the Prisoner' might not have endured for as long as it has. Yes I like the "Questions are a burden to others, so don't ask. No one's going to give you a true answer."
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