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On May 8th 1956, Look Back in Anger opened at the Royal Court Theatre as the third production of the newly formed En lish !ta e Company" The En lish !ta e Company had #een founded in 1955 to promote the production of new plays #y contemporary authors that mi ht not find production in the commercial $est End theatre %&ondon's e(ui)alent of *roadway in +ew ,or- City." $est End theatre pro)ided (uality actin and hi h standards of production, #ut )ery little drama that related to life in contemporary En land" Most plays of the time were enerally innocuous li ht comedies, thrillers, and forei n imports/fourteen 0merican shows in 1955 alone" Os#orne had su#mitted copies of Look Back in Anger to e)ery a ent in &ondon and to many $est End producers and had #een re1ected #y all" $hen the script arri)ed at the Royal Court, the 0rtistic 2irector 3eor e 2e)ine and his youn assistant director Tony Richardson -new it was e4actly what they were loo-in for" Look Back in Anger was )iewed as a play that would, as 2e)ine later put it, 5#low a hole in the old theatre"5 Critical reception was stron ly mi4ed6 some detested the play and the central character, #ut most reco ni7ed Os#orne as an important new talent and the play as emotionally powerful" They also reco ni7ed the play as one that fer)ently spo-e of the concerns of the youn in post8war En land" The first production of Look Back in Anger was not initially financially successful, althou h after an e4cerpt was shown on **C the #o4 office was o)erwhelmed" Os#orne was pu#licised as the 50n ry ,oun Man,5 and the success of Look Back in Anger opened the doors to other youn writers who dealt with contemporary pro#lems"

John Osborne
9ohn 9ames Os#orne was #orn on 2ecem#er 1:th 19:9 in ;ulham, south west &ondon" <is father, Thomas 3odfry Os#orne, was then a commercial artist and copywriter= his mother, +ellie *eatrice 3ro)e Os#orne, wor-ed as a #armaid in pu#s most of her life" Much of Os#orne's childhood was spent in near po)erty, and he suffered from fre(uent e4tended illnesses" <e was deeply affected #y his father's death from tu#erculosis in 19>1, and also remem#ered )i)idly the air raids and eneral e4citement of war" Os#orne attended state schools until the a e of twel)e, when he was awarded a scholarship to attend a minor pri)ate school, !t" Michael's Colle e, in *arnstaple, 2e)on" <e was e4pelled at the a e of si4teen after the headmaster slapped Os#orne's face and Os#ome hit him #ac-" 0fter spendin some time at home, he too- a series of 1o#s writin copy for )arious trade 1ournals" <e #ecame interested in theatre while wor-in as a tutor for children tourin with a repertory company" 0fter an education inspector found him to #e uncertified as a teacher, Os#orne was relie)ed of those duties, #ut in)ited to stay with the company as assistant sta e mana er and e)entually as an actor" <e made his sta e de#ut in March, 19>8, in !heffield and for the ne4t se)en years made the rounds of pro)incial repertory theatres as an actor"

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Os#orne's playwritin career #e an while he was still an actor" <e wrote fi)e plays #efore the production of Look Back in Anger made him an o)erni ht success" The Devil Inside Him. coauthored with !tella &inden, was produced in <uddersfield in 195@= Personal Enemy, coauthored with 0nthony Crei hton, was produced in <arro ate in 1955= and Epitaph for eorge Dillon, also written with Crei hton, was later produced in 1958 #y the En lish !ta e Company and has #een pu#lished" The real #rea-throu h came when Look Back in Anger was sta ed in 1956 as the third production of the newly formed En lish !ta e Company at the Royal Court Theatre" Look Back in Anger was the first play Os#orne had written alone" <e had su#mitted copies of the script to e)ery a ent in &ondon and many $est End producers and had #een re1ected #y all" 0fter the success of Look Back in Anger, Os#orne continued to ha)e a hi hly successful career as playwri ht" <is ne4t play, The Entertainer, was written with &aurence Oli)ier in mind for the central character, 0rchie Rice" At was produced #y the En lish !ta e Company in 0pril 195B with Oli)ier i)in what has #een widely considered to #e one of his finest performances" *oth Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer were adapted for film" ;ollowin The Entertainer, Os#orne continued to ha)e a producti)e career, writin se)enteen more sta e plays, ele)en plays for tele)ision, fi)e screen plays %includin Tom !ones, for which he recei)ed an 0cademy 0ward., and four #oo-s, includin two )olumes of auto#io raphy" Os#orne was married fi)e times6 to actress ?amela &ane from 1951 to 195B= to Mary Cre, who played 0lison in Look Back in Anger, from 195B to 196:= to ?enelope 3illiatt, film and later drama critic for The "#server, from 196D to 196B= to actress 9ill *ennett from 1968 to 19BB= and to 1ournalist <elen 2awson #e innin in 19B8" <e died of heart failure on 2ecem#er :>, 199>"

Summ r!
Act I
The plot of Look Back in Anger is dri)en almost entirely #y the tirades of 9immy ?orter rather than outside forces" The play is set in a one8room attic apartment in the Midlands of En land" This lar e room is the home of 9immy ?orter, his wife 0lison, and his #usiness partner and friend Cliff &ewis, who has a separate #edroom across the hall" The play opens with 0lison at the ironin #oard and 9immy and Cliff in easy chairs readin the !unday papers" 9immy complains that half the #oo- re)iew he is readin in his 5posh5 paper is in ;rench" <e as-s 0lison if that ma-es her feel i norant and she replies that she wasn't listenin to the (uestion" Ammediately one of the main themes is introduced= 9immy's railin a ainst the inertia of 0lison and the inertia of the whole middle8class of En land" 9immy teases Cliff a#out #ein uneducated and i norant and Cliff ood naturedly a rees with him" 9immy says that 0lison hasn't had a thou ht for years and she a rees" 9immy is depressed #y their !unday routine and says their youth is slippin away" <e says, 5&et's pretend that we're human #ein s and that we're actually ali)e"5 Cliff complains a#out the smo-e from 9immy's pipe" $hen 0lison says she has otten used to it, 9immy says she would et used to anythin in a few minutes" <e then rails a#out the fact that 5+o#ody thin-s, no#ody cares" +o #eliefs, no con)ictions and no enthusiasms"5 <e says that En land has lost her soul, that it is dreary li)in in 5the 0merican 0 e"5 There is tal- of the sweet stall that 9immy and Cliff own and operate in an outdoor mar-et" 9immy derides 0lison's #rother +i el, whom he has du##ed 5the chinless wonder from !andhurst,5 and who is a Mem#er of ?arliament" 9immy resents +i el and all that he stands for, includin the fact that he will succeed in the world #ecause of his social class and the schools he has attended in spite of his stupidity and insensiti)ity" <e then turns on 0lison, callin her 5the &ady ?usillanimous"5 9immy tries to listen to a concert on the radio and complains at the noise made #y 0lison's ironin and Cliff's rustlin of the newspaper" <e then haran ues a ainst women in eneral,

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0lison, and e)en Mrs" 2rury, their landlady" Cliff and 9immy then playfully wrestle and accidentally push o)er 0lison and the ironin #oard" 0lison has #urnt her arm and finally tells 9immy to et out" Cliff ministers to 0lison's #urn and calms her" !he tells him that she is pre nant" !he is afraid to tell 9immy lest he thin- she planned it" Cliff holds 0lison and 9immy enters" There is teasin and play as 9immy reesta#lishes himself, and Cliff oes out for ci arettes" 9immy tells 0lison that he wants her= they play a pri)ate and affectionate ame of 5s(uirrels and #ears,5 and 0lison is a#out to tell him of her pre nancy when Cliff returns to say <elena Charles, an actress friend of 0lison, is on the phone downstairs" $hen 0lison returns she says she has in)ited <elena to stay with them durin her en a ement at the local theatre, and 9immy launches his most shoc-in diatri#e yet" <e tells 0lison that if she were to ha)e a child and if that child would die, then she mi ht suffer enou h to #ecome a human #ein " The act ends with 9immy sayin of 0lison, 5!he'll o on sleepin and de)ourin until there is nothin left of me"5

Act II" scene i

At is e)enin two wee-s later" <elena and 0lison are ettin ready to o to church" 9immy is in Cliff's room practicin 1a77 on his trumpet" 9immy's friend <u h and <u h's wor-in 8class mother, who pro)ided the money needed to start the sweet stall, are discussed" 0lison tal-s of #ein cut off from the -ind of people she had always -nown" !he still hasn't told 9immy she is pre nant" 0fter Cliff and 9immy enter, 9immy launches into another attac- on the Esta#lishment in eneral and 0lison's mother in particular" <e then tells of -eepin his father company as he lay dyin for months and says he 5learnt at an early a e what it was to #e an ry/an ry and helpless"5 9immy is called to the phone" <elena tells 0lison that she has tele raphed 0lison's father to come and ta-e her home" 9immy returns and says <u h's mother has had a stro-e and he will o to &ondon to #e with her" <e tells 0lison he needs her to o with him" !he lea)es with <elena"

Act II" scene ii

At is the followin e)enin and Colonel Redfern, 0lison's father, is )isitin " Redfern is #emused #y the modern En land= he spent his whole career, from 191D to 19>B, in the colonial ser)ice in Andia" <e sees some ri ht on 9immy's side and was horrified #y his wife's #rutal attempts to pre)ent 0lison from marryin 9immy" <e says he and 0lison are much ali-e in that they #oth 5li-e to sit on a fence" At is rather comforta#le"5 0lison tries to e4plain why she married 9immy6 5A'd li)ed a happy, uncomplicated life and suddenly this/this spiritual #ar#arian/throws down a auntlet at me"5 <elena comes in followed shortly #y Cliff" <elena will stay one more ni ht so she can attend an audition near#y" 0lison as-s Cliff to i)e a letter to 9immy and he refuses" 0lison and her father lea)e, followed shortly #y Cliff" <elena lies down on the #ed and loo-s at the toy #ear" 9immy crashes in" <e reads 0lison's letter and #erates her for #ein polite and 5wet5 instead of emotionally honest" <elena tells him 0lison is pre nant and 9immy says he doesn't care" <e has watched <u h's mother die and has no pity for 0lison" <e turns on <elena callin her an 5e)il8minded little )ir in"5 !he slaps his face= then, as he cries in despair, she -isses him passionately"

Act III" scene i

At is early !unday e)enin se)eral months later" 9immy and Cliff are sprawled in their armchairs readin the !unday newspapers and <elena is at the ironin #oard" 0ll seems )ery rela4ed" They tal- a#out a newspaper article and 9immy starts in on reli ion and politics" They then o into a )aude)ille routine and <elena 1oins in" 9immy and Cliff do a son and dance and end with playful wrestlin " Cliff's shirt ets dirty and <elena lea)es to wash it" Cliff says he is oin to mo)e out and i)e up the candy stall" <e says he mi ht find a woman of his own" $hen <elena returns with his shirt, Cliff han s it o)er the as fire in his

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room" <elena tells 9immy that she lo)es him and has always wanted him" The door opens and 0lison enters, loo-in ill and o#)iously thin" 9immy e4its and lea)es the two women loo-in at each other"

Act III" scene ii

At is moments later" There is the sound of 9immy's trumpet from across the hall" 0lison has suffered a miscarria e" !he says she doesn't -now why she came, that she doesn't want to cause a #reach #etween <elena and 9immy" <elena says that it is all o)er #etween her and 9immy, that she reali7es that what she has #een doin is wron , and she can't li)e with that" !he calls 9immy in and tells him she is oin to lea)e, and she does" 0lison says she will o" 9immy #erates her for not sendin flowers to the funeral" Then he softens and tal-s of the old #ear oin throu h the forest of life alone" <e remem#ers their first meetin and says, 5A may #e a lost cause, #ut A thou ht if you lo)ed me, it needn't matter"5 0lison cries and says she has found stren th in the humility of not ha)in #een a#le to protect her un#orn child" !he is in the mud now, ro)elin " 9immy ently comforts her" They enter into their ame of #ear and s(uirrel in what is apparently a lo)in reconciliation"

Act I Summ r!
The audience is introduced to the scene of the ?orters' one8room apartment in the Midlands on an early 0pril e)enin " The curtain rises on a lar e Eictorian attic room, furnished simply with a dressin ta#le, a dou#le #ed, a #oo-shelf, a chest of drawers, a wardro#e, a as sto)e and a cup#oard" 2ownsta e center is a dinin ta#le with three chairs, as well as two worn leather armchairs" 9immy ?orter and Cliff &ewis are seated in the armchairs, surrounded #y newspapers" They are #oth a#out twenty8fi)e, althou h Cliff has an easy air a#out him while 9immy seems more ti htly wound" 0lison ?orter, 9immy's wife, a tall, dar- irl with a stri-in #eauty, is ironin off to the left" 9immy #e ins his usual tirade a ainst the (uality of the papers he and Cliff are readin , and the audience ets the sense that Cliff usually plays the strai ht man to 9immy's passionate out#ursts" 9immy #e ins to turn his tirade a ainst 0lison while snatchin away Cliff's paper, and Cliff defends her while tryin to et #ac- his readin material" 0lison answers tersely to whate)er 9immy is flin in at her, deadpannin an a reement e)en when 9immy #latantly derides her intelli ence" The ar ument turns to who dran- all of the tea, and who should ma-e more, with comments on the (uality of the paper interspersed" Cliff flirts, not co)ertly, with 9immy's wife" Cliff as-s, 5<ow are you, dullin'F5 0lison responds, 50ll ri ht than- you, dear"5 Cliff -isses her hand and puts her fin ers in his mouth, sayin to 9immy, 5!he's a #eautiful irl, isn't sheF5 5That's what they all tell me,5 is all that 9immy can say" 9immy seems not to notice, or at least not to ac-nowled e, their flirtation" 9immy's ne4t comment on an article in the newspaper re)eals his contempt for 0lison's father" Cliff su ests that a mo)ie mi ht cheer them all up, and 0lison declines, while 9immy rants a#out how terri#le mo)ie theaters are" 9immy and 0lison notice that Cliff's new trousers are wrin-led, and 0lison offers to press them, lea)in Cliff without pants" 0fter 0lison and Cliff #oth li ht up ci arettes, much to 9immy's consternation, 9immy #e ins a tirade a ainst the state of the culture of the world, and -ic-s Cliff after he reali7es that no one is listenin "

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0lison's friend $e#ster is mentioned, whom 9immy declares he can't ta-e toni ht" 0lison points out that 9immy said $e#ster was the only one of her friends that he felt understood him a little #it" 0 discussion of 9immy's former mistress ensues, o#)iously annoyin 0lison" 9immy then #e ins a fresh assault on 0lison, who is )isi#ly wearin down" At is re)ealed to the audience that 9immy possesses not only contempt for her father, #ut for her entire family, includin #rother +i el and her mother" <e decrees that 0lison is pusillanimous, which he defines as 5wantin of firmness of mind, of small coura e"5 5*ehold the &ady ?usillanimousG5 9immy shouts" 0lison continues ironin Cliff's pants, -eepin her composure, #ut 1ust #arely" 0fter a minute's relati)e peace listenin to a concert on the radio, 9immy a#ruptly shuts it off, claimin Cliff's paper and 0lison's ironin are ma-in too much of a din" <e #e ins yet another haran ue of 0lison re ardin her 5primiti)e hands,5 and yells at the church #ells when they interrupt him" Cliff #e ins a slapstic- danceHwrestlin match with him, which 9immy is in no mood for, and they end up crashin into 0lison and her ironin #oard, #urnin her arm" 0lison finally snaps, orderin 9immy out of the room while Cliff #anda es her arm" They discuss the awful state of 0lison's marria e" !he ac-nowled es that it seems li-e it's always the thin s that, for other marria es, are easy, that she and 9immy can ne)er et ri ht= they can ne)er 1ust a ree and mo)e on without ha)in some sort of #ic-erin or needlin " Cliff assures 0lison that he won't lea)e the flat, after which 0lison re)eals that she is pre nant, a rather desperate state considerin the lac- of money and the com#ati)e atmosphere" !he worries a#out tellin 9immy, sayin that it would #e all ri ht at first, #ut after a while, he'll 1ust feel stifled and #lame her" !he re)eals to Cliff that their courtship was )ery fast, #ased mostly on the fact that he was different from the pri)ile ed life she had -nown and seemed new and e4citin , and he saw her as a rescue case from the wealthy" Cliff -isses 0lison, and #oth i nore 9immy when he reenters" 0fter some much more li ht8hearted #anterin , Cliff lea)es to et ci arettes" &eft alone, 9immy and 0lison are a #it aw-ward, and 9immy shows a more )ulnera#le side after admittin that he #urned her on purpose" They -iss and #e in role8playin an odd ame of s(uirrel and #ear, of which there are two fi urines on the chest of drawers" Cliff comes #acin with news of a telephone call from <elena Charles for 0lison, and she lea)es to ta-e it" 9immy immediately re)eals his disli-e for her friend, and #e ins to rant a ain a ainst all her friends" <e rifles throu h 0lison's hand#a while tal-in , and disco)ers a letter from her mother which she has hidden to a)oid his ar uments" 0lison comes #ac- in and announces that <elena is comin to stay for a while" This immediately an ers 9immy since she is a part of 0lison's old life" 9immy, after one last sta# at 0lison, e4its, lea)in 0lison and Cliff standin in silence"

Act I An #!sis
Os#orne introduces 9immy immediately as an a#rasi)e character" The play's description of his character #efore the openin scene points directly to his alienatin tendencies, since his lo)e of spoutin scorchin truths causes his friendships to turn sour" At is also interestin to note the addition of the modifier of 5apparent5 when descri#in 9immy's honesty" This as-s the reader to listen carefully to his upcomin tirades to see if he is spea-in the truth, or 1ust sayin whate)er will et a rise out of the present company" The relationship #etween 9immy and Cliff is set up as a uni(uely male one= competiti)e, with each tryin to #est the other with wordplay and #rashness" This is furthered reatly #y their moment of wrestlin , which the reader is led to #elie)e is a fre(uent occurrence" The newspapers fi ure hea)ily in the scenes where 9immy and Cliff are en a ed in their usual

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competiti)e #anter, i)in them a means to tussle without actually doin the physical wrestlin " Cliff is contrasted a ainst 9immy as #ein a less educated character, which is why he is often the #utt of 9immy's comments on intelli ence, #ut the reader feels much friendlier toward Cliff's character, sympathi7in with him when he ets pic-ed on and identifyin with him as an easy oin , re ular person" 0lison is o#)iously a mee-er character #y far, which her short answers to 9immy's needlin confirm= howe)er, much of her reaction to his words may #e a si n of her ha)in i)en up #attlin him, and instead su#mittin to whate)er -eeps the peace" !he too is the constant o#1ect of 9immy's insults, especially a#out her intelli ence" The )ery first thin the reader hears 9immy say to her is a 1i#e a#out the papers #ein half in ;rench, and we find out she has actually #een i norin the con)ersation" <ere the play immediately compares the static state of society with the listless state in which 0lison e4ists" 0lison's relationship with Cliff is an interestin one, since he is supposed to #e the platonic component of this threesome, #ut he acts more lo)in ly toward her than 9immy does" $hate)er she feels a#out him, she may #e actin #oth out of relief that Cliff is around to ta-e on some of 9immy's needlin , and in reaction to the lac- of affection from her hus#and" !he turns towards whate)er affection she can et from whoe)er offers it" <e also is the first person she re)eals her pre nancy to, si nalin that he is, at the )ery least, her confidant and friend, althou h she once a ain puts him in the middle of their relationship #y doin so" E)en so, as the play pro resses, the reader comes to understand that e)en thou h Cliff empathi7es with 0lison and cares for her )ery much, he is a comrade8in8arms with 9immy, and he adapts with him e)en as the scene chan es" They are, after all, partners in a stru lin sweet8stall #usiness, and that com#ined with Cliff's natural easy oin nature is pro#a#ly why he has stuc- around e)en this lon " 9immy does little to dis uise his contempt for 0lison's entire past, re)ealin his utmost hatred of the classes a#o)e him" <e clearly sees class8#ased entitlement as the #asis of all that's wron with the world, and his stru le is (uic-ly re)ealed to #e a classic case of ra in a ainst the 5esta#lishment,5 which is a catchphrase for what is in rained in current society" The 5esta#lishment5 has #een portrayed in literature as includin e)erythin from class tendencies to reli ion to issues of race and se4ual orientation, and in Look Back in Anger 9immy has pic-ed the class stru le as his cause" <e is #e innin to portray himself as a -ind of spo-esperson for the lower class" ?erhaps this is his callin , or perhaps he is simply too la7y to #uild up a life of his own and ma-e somethin of himself" ;or all his fire and ener y, and apparent intelli ence, the fact that he career8hops and now owns a sweet8stall, hardly a steady income, is suspect" An this scene, 0lison's #rother +i el ets a personal tirade from 9immy" 9immy criticises +i el and his politics for #ein much too )a ue and #lind to the issues" 9immy meanly 1o-es that he should #e presented with a medal 5;or Ea uery in the ;ield"5 9immy lam#astes +i el for the fact that he pro#a#ly will o far in his field, which hi hli hts the fact that althou h 9immy is (uite the opposite of )a ue in his declarations, he is la in #ehind humanity in the rat race" <ere 9immy is usin +i el almost as a scape oat for a society that he sees as sta nant" At is an unfair world where some#ody li-e +i el who fits into the e4act mold set for him can et ahead easily, #ut some#ody li-e the person 9immy fancies himself to #e ets stuc- operatin a candy stall for pennies a day" 0ct A also introduces 9immy's use of the word 5pusillanimous,5 which recurs throu hout the play" <e uses the word, defined as 5spineless and faint8hearted,5 as a 1oustin sword a ainst his wife, tryin to et a reaction from her" The &atinate word hi hli hts his intelli ence, %which he apparently does possess., #ut also his need to assert that intelli ence and ele)ate himself a#o)e other people" *ecause he does not ha)e the financial means to loo- down upon the masses, 9immy seems to ta-e ad)anta e of his elo(uence and )oca#ulary to scram#le to

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whate)er hei ht he can" The sta e directions continually point to the fact that 9immy ets a per)erse 1oy out of ettin people to react" ?erhaps as a reaction a ainst the society he percei)es, he seems to en1oy any display of passion, e)en if it is shown in an er towards him" $hene)er he has a fa)ora#le description of any#ody, #e it 0lison's friend $e#ster, or <u h, it is often for their a#ility to show some e4citement and therefore et 9immy e4cited" <is most pointed remar-s are reser)ed for 0lison in an attempt to an er her, perhaps #ecause he sees it as some -ind of passion" Aronically, this seems to ha)e induced her to withdraw from him" !he is also the product of the society he sees as inert, so perhaps a reaction out of her counts as a small )ictory for him in his stru le a ainst that society" E)en Cliff, as 9immy's #est friend, annoys him in his unresponsi)eness" At is a re(uirement of personality that a person #e easy oin in order to #e a#le to withstand li)in with 9immy, #ut it is this )ery characteristic that ets 9immy riled up and on the attac-" E)en from the first pa es of this play, it is immediately o#)ious that 9immy's words are his weapons, and he is prone to usin them at e)ery a)aila#le opportunity" Af one were to count up the num#er of words spo-en #y each character throu hout the play, one wouldn't #e surprised to find that 9immy had twice or three times the total of the others" $hen he ets oin on a topic that he -nows will pro)o-e the intended person, he retains his elo(uence #ut #ecomes lon 8winded, pushin the same point home o)er and o)er a ain with different and increasin ly a ressi)e words" 0s stated, he is an intelli ent man= howe)er, it's almost as if his mind is wasted on criti(uin the world around him instead of tryin to do somethin a#out it" 9immy is ne)er as uncomforta#le as when the attention is turned away from him" The audience sees throu hout the play that whene)er he enters the room, he is instantly made %or more accurately, ma-es himself. the centre of whate)er con)ersation is happenin " 9immy unreasona#ly demands that some#ody else ma-e tea and et ci arettes, and turns off the concert on the radio #ecause he was so distracted #y 0lison ironin and Cliff readin the paper" At's almost as if the sudden peace made him much more uncomforta#le than the constant sparrin did" 0 peculiar moment comes after 9immy admits to #urnin 0lison's arm on purpose, which adds the dimension of physicality to the mental a#use apparent in their relationship" 0lison and 9immy #e in a role8playin ame where she is a s(uirrel and he is a #ear, and throu h this, they are a#le to show a little tenderness and affection for each other, em#racin and i)in each other compliments" $e also limpse this while Cliff is with them, callin himself a mouse and 9immy a #ear in fun" <owe)er, when Cliff e4its, the ame ta-es on a much more tender aspect, and we see 9immy and 0lison at peace with each other for a minute" The roles of #ear and s(uirrel pro)ide them co)er from ha)in to actually spea- fondly and fran-ly to each other as human #ein s, out of dis uise" At is rare for the reader to see a moment when they are con)ersin as real people with each other= almost e)ery con)ersation consists of 9immy pro)o-in and 0lison tryin to i nore the comment" This complete ina#ility to interact spea-s to how much their marria e has disinte rated, which #rin s up a (uestion= the reader wonders if there was e)er a time when their relationship was whole" $hen the ame is cut short #y the announcement of <elena's phone call, they re)ert immediately to their hostility" The fact that <elena is callin is enou h to set 9immy off, since she is one of 0lison's friends that #elon s to the 5esta#lishment,5 and she represents e)erythin he despises a#out 0lison's past" $hen 0lison lea)es to ta-e the call, 9immy oes so far as to rifle throu h 0lison's hand#a , somethin sym#olic of a woman's pri)acy" Cliff e)en oes out on a lim# and mentions this fact to 9immy, who then rants a ainst 0lison

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%a ain. after findin a letter from her mother that she meant to -eep hidden" 9immy then a#ruptly lea)es after #eratin her for #oth <elena's )isit and the letter= what is si nificant in this particular monolo ue is that he ma-es a specific reference to 0lison ha)in a miscarria e if she e)er tried to produce a #a#y, which hurts 0lison much more than he meant it to, since he is still unaware of the pre nancy" <e means to descri#e a horri#le e)ent that mi ht actually pro)o-e some -ind of reaction from her in his frustration with her, and he doesn't reali7e that he has in fact achie)ed his oal" The reader sees in the sta e direction that he has #ro-en her with that statement"

Act II" Scene i Summ r!

At is two wee-s later, and 0lison is ma-in tea while 9immy practices his trumpet offsta e" <elena enters, attracti)e and dressed e4pensi)ely, carryin a lar e colander" !he wor-s in the theatre, and is a friend of 0lison's from her life prior to 9immy" The women discuss <elena's help durin the wee- and the two men" <elena as-s 0lison if Cliff is in lo)e with her, which 0lison hesitatin ly refutes" 0lison says that there's nothin su#stantial to their flirtation, and it's completely innocent" !he e4plains that 9immy doesn't mind #ecause it is a 5(uestion of alle iances"5 They #e in to discuss <u h Tanner, 9immy's childhood friend, who, with <u h's mother, started him off in the sweet #usiness" 0lison disli-ed <u h immediately when they mo)ed in with him on their weddin ni ht" 0lison admits the #e innin s of her despair, and that she had no one to turn to since she had #urned many #rid es #y marryin 9immy and <elena was away on tour" !he descri#es how <u h and 9immy would use her name and reputation to crash society parties for the free food, ci ars, and #asically to ruin it for the wealthy people" These were supposed to #e raids of a -ind of class re)olution, #ut mostly they 1ust seemed em#arrassin for 0lison and a means to some hi her8class li)in " 0lison further descri#es why she married 9immy, statin , 5A didn't -now A was #orn, as 9immy says"""E)erythin a#out him seemed to #urn"""and his eyes were so #lue and full of the sun" <e loo-ed youn and frail, in spite of the tired line of his mouth" A -new A was ta-in on more than A was e)er li-ely to #e capa#le of #earin , #ut there ne)er seemed to #e any choice" $ell, the howl of outra e and astonishment went up from the family, and that did it" $hether or not he was in lo)e with me, that did it" <e made up his mind to marry me"5 0lison descri#es <u h's departure soon after, and how <u h's mother and e)en 9immy seem to #lame her for it" <e left purportedly to o a#road to wor- on his no)el, and althou h he in)ited 9immy and 0lison alon for the trip, 9immy ended up refusin and endin their friendship o)er it" 0lthou h 9immy ne)er actually stated it, she still feels #lamed for the incident" <elena points out that while it was all ri ht in the end for 0lison to -eep herself in this situation, since she had only herself to worry a#out, after the #a#y is #orn she will now ha)e to #e responsi#le for another life, and it wouldn't #e a ood decision to -eep thin s as they are" 0lison re)eals to the reader that she has not yet told 9immy a#out their pre nancy" !he assures <elena that it is his #a#y, she is sure of it, and that's not why she's stallin " 0lison does admit to <elena that she still is se4ually attracted to 9immy, e)en after all these years of constant ar umentati)eness" !he tells <elena a#out their #ear and s(uirrel role8 playin ame, and how it's all they ha)e left to actually relate to one another" !he also implies that e)en their #ear and s(uirrel ame seems to ha)e fallen #y the wayside of late, lea)in them with nothin to #rid e the ap" <elena ad)ises her that for her sa-e and the child's, she should ta-e a stand or else #e resi ned to lea)in " Cliff enters, and they call 9immy for tea, who has #een playin his trumpet offsta e

?a e 8 of :5


throu hout their whole con)ersation" They #e in their usual #anter o)er the newspapers, and 9immy starts teasin and #aitin #oth 0lison and <elena, e)en #rin in out his new word, pusillanimous" <elena calls him on it, which further inspires his #anter" <e reali7es 0lison is ettin ready to o out, and she tells him she's oin to church with <elena" This an ers 9immy, who accuses <elena of only remainin to win 0lison #ac- o)er to the 5other5 side" <e a ain starts a tirade a ainst 0lison's family and up#rin in , seein <elena as part of that threat" <e culminates with harsh words a#out 0lison's mother, and Cliff's efforts to -eep the peace fail" <e turns his an er toward <elena, how she 5Ispends herJ time mostly loo-in forward to the past"5 <elena threatens to slap him, and he assures her that he would slap her as well" <e tells the story of his father dyin , how he was the only one who cared" <elena announces that it is time to o and e4its" 9immy's swa er disappears and his final sta# at 0lison finally #rea-s her" !he smashes her cup on the floor and #e ins to et dressed amid 9immy's continued #ar#s" <elena enters and tells 9immy he has a phone call, and he e4its" <elena accuses Cliff of not doin more and Cliff washes his hands of the responsi#ility" <elena tells 0lison she has wired 0lison's father to come et her the ne4t day, and 0lison a rees to o" 9immy enters and announces that <u h's mother has suffered a stro-e" Cliff lea)es to order him a ta4i so he can o see her" 0lison is entler to him now, #ut still lea)es to o to church with <elena, e)en thou h 9immy as-s her to come to the hospital" 9immy throws the teddy #ear from the chest of drawers on the floor and falls to the #ed"

Act II" Scene i An #!sis

<elena has come to stay and help 0lison, as she has confided in her re ardin her pre nancy" <elena as-s her point #lan- a#out her relationship with Cliff, and 0lison tries to e4plain it, sayin , 5IAJt's not e4actly a consumin passion with either of us" At's 1ust a rela4ed, cheerful sort of thin , li-e #ein warm in #ed" ,ou're too comforta#le to #other a#out mo)in for the sa-e of some other pleasure"5 This hi hli hts their la7iness as well, which is )oiced #y <elena, who cannot #elie)e that they would settle for that" 9immy's former friend, <u h Tanner, whom 0lison disli-ed from the moment she met him, much to 9immy's dismay, is descri#ed here" 0lison descri#es <u h and 9immy usin her to sta e crashes on upper8class parties, althou h from the description it seems more to et free food and drin- than to foment any -ind of re)olution" !he also descri#es her first meetin with 9immy, and how he seemed li-e a new and e4citin ad)enture compared to her normal life" An re ards to his feelin s a#out her, 0lison states that whate)er he felt, it was plenty for him that their marria e would cause an outra e in her family, forcin a near8riot for this particular upper8class family" Thus, they share a marria e #ased on their re#ellion and not necessarily out of lo)e, which sheds li ht on why 0lison and 9immy are only a#le to relate throu h silly ames instead of in real life" 0lthou h 9immy and 0lison do sometimes #etray a enuine %or seemin ly enuine, in 9immy's case. affection for one another, the reader is led to #elie)e that they really didn't et a chance to et to -now each other #efore 9immy flun them into a marria e" The word 5lo)e5 is often used in this play in statements a#out the horri#leness of the situation, with a character implyin that they can't deal with lo)e any more, #ut the reader sees )ery few instances of actual lo)e in any of the relationships" 0fter li)in with <u h for a while after their marria e, <u h decided to o a#road and lea)e them, which 0lison says 9immy #lamed her for 8 another reason to detest her in his eyes" More importantly, she feels that <u h's mother #lames her completely for her son lea)in , and since 9immy nearly re)eres this woman, this only adds to the distance #etween him and 0lison" The fact that <u h decided to o off and wor- on his no)el and in)ited 0lison and 9immy alon for the trip does little to alle)iate the #lame that 0lison feels is placed upon her"

?a e 9 of :5


At is re)ealed that 9immy still doesn't -now a#out the #a#y, and 0lison oes so far as to say that she loathes the thou ht of him enterin the room, (uite an unfortunate feelin to ha)e a#out one's spouse" $hen <elena later tells her that she's wired 0lison's father to come rescue her from this dreadful situation, 0lison does not put up a fi ht" ?erhaps 9immy has finally #ro-en her spirit, or this is 1ust another e4ample of her ina#ility to act or ha)e a reaction to anythin " 9immy re)eals his contempt for another institution in this scene, church" Once he finds out that <elena is plannin on ta-in 0lison to church with her, he mounts a #attle a ainst #oth of them to relie)e his irritation" The church #ells are a constant presence in their little apartment, drownin out life when they are rin in " *y his )iolent reaction to them e)ery time they #e in rin in , it seems as thou h he re ards them as yet another in)asion #y the aforementioned 5esta#lishment"5 $indows et shut to -eep them out, #ut they can still #e heard, compared to the newspapers they read li-e cloc-wor- e)ery !unday" The newspapers only #rin news that is sure to set 9immy off and start him on some tirade a ainst a class issue, #ut he reli iously #uys them, reads them and discusses them with Cliff anyway" The reader e)en disco)ers later on that he is the one that shells out the money for them, so he is acti)ely choosin to in)ite them into his life, not 1ust #orrowin them from Cliff" An this scene, 9immy specifically chooses to attac- 0lison's mother with this lashin , shoutin a#out how she thou ht she had to protect 0lison from him" This was pro#a#ly 1ust a #i #ruise to his e o rather than some -ind of crusade" An fact, since most of his attraction to 0lison was his #ein a#le to sha-e the foundation of an upper8class family and ta-e her away from what he percei)ed as the 5e)ils of society,5 he most li-ely e4pected the fact that her mother was sure to ha)e an e4treme reaction to his appearance" The sudden nature of their courtship and su#se(uent marria e was sure to set any parents off, not 1ust those in the upper class, and one can't #lame a mother for tryin to ma-e sure her dau hter's #est interests are #ein ser)ed" <owe)er, i)en the actual situation, and the )ery real presence of class di)ision and society, 9immy surely e4pected the ne ati)e reaction to his lower8class up#rin in and current e4istence" There is pre1udice in his world, #ut it's a pre1udice he's e4ploitin in order to create the -ind of societal sha-e8up he lon s for" An his tirade a ainst 0lison's mother, 9immy #ecomes (uite )ul ar in his description, wantin plainly to shoc- them rather than ar ue any point" <e calls her a 5#itch,5 and repeatedly mentions that she should die" <e oes so far as to descri#e the stomachache the worms would ha)e after they')e consumed her dead #ody, #ecomin more raphic and )ul ar as he pro resses" 0fter he slows down a #it, <elena and 0lison offer a rather clear insi ht into his personality" <elena says, 5,ou thin- the world's treated you pretty #adly, don't youF5 0lison inter1ects, 5Oh, don't try and ta-e his sufferin away from him8he'd #e lost without it"5 0fter not hearin much from her character aside from a few short responses to 9immy and some lamentin o)er the situation to Cliff and <elena, this crystal8clear analysis of 9immy's character is almost shoc-in in its directness, accuracy and simplicity" 0lison's sentence sums up neatly the underlyin moti)ation for 9immy's #ra)ado" <e has #ecome so ood at #ein downtrodden that he has nothin else to turn to" E)en <elena's (uestion is enli htenin , ser)in as a perfect introduction to 0lison's assessment, and clearly pointin out the impression that most people pro#a#ly ta-e away with them after spendin some time with 9immy" <e feels entitled to his misery= althou h in many of his relationships, he has cast himself in the role of the downtrodden one instead of the one who rises a#o)e the situation" <e is downtrodden #ecause he only has a candy stall to ma-e money from, #ut he does not ta-e any action to find more lucrati)e employment" The reader is told that it was <u h's mother who set him up in the #usiness= his a#ility to pro ress without this help is dou#tful" 9immy feels downtrodden #ecause other people, li-e +i el, ma-e headway into their careers

?a e 1@ of :5


and into society e)en thou h they are )a ue and not oriented to action, #ut 9immy does not try to ad)ance in any career e)en thou h he considers himself to #e the -ind of person that deser)es such ains" <e feels that other people remain stupid and #lind to society's needs, e)en thou h they are offered a pri)ile ed education" <owe)er, he does not use the o#)ious intelli ence he has to do anythin #ut thin- of new ways to critici7e e)erythin that is wron with the world around him, e)en thou h he could presuma#ly use it to ta-e the action he ad)ocates" <e offers up a description of <elena as a sheltered woman o#li)ious to all the trou#les of the day in retaliation, and a standoff of sorts occurs when she threatens to slap his face and he offers to slap hers ri ht #ac-" An so doin he defies the con)entional endered codes of conduct, which would re(uire Kchi)alryL from men" *oth 9immy and <elena are )ery stron personalities, 1u4taposed a ainst Cliff and 0lison's passi)ity, and it is no wonder that they #ristle a ainst each other" !ince <elena is new to the scene she is not used to i norin 9immy and deflectin his a#rasi)e comments as #oth Cliff and 0lison are" Therefore, she is ready with a re#uttal or another insult whene)er 9immy sprin s into one of his ra es, forcin them into almost constant conflict" 9immy does show a moment of )ulnera#ility when he finds out that <u h's mother, a woman he has enuine affection for, has had a stro-e" Mo)ed, he immediately ma-es plans to )isit her in hospital, and for a moment he is cau ht off8 uard" <owe)er, he tries to use his emotion to -eep 0lison from oin with <elena, assumin 0lison will now accompany him to )isit Mrs" Tanner" <e is outra ed, not to mention surprised, when she oes with <elena to church anyway" <e despairs when she lea)es, #ut it is unclear whether it is despair o)er her, or o)er the fact that he is losin control of the situation" This also puts him out of the centre of attention once a ain, a situation that he has already pro)en to #e e4ceedin ly uncomforta#le with"

Act II" Scene ii Summ r!

0lison is pac-in for her departure as her father, Colonel Redfern, loo-s on" They discuss the ailin Mrs" Tanner and the men's sweet8stall #usiness" The Colonel tells 0lison that he actually understands a little of 9immy's perspecti)e, althou h his wife surely wouldn't= as parents they do deser)e some #lame" The Colonel admits that it would pro#a#ly ha)e #een #etter for all if they had ne)er tried to interfere with the marria e, and tells 0lison that they #oth ha)e the tendency to #e unwillin to ma-e decisions" 0lison admits she pro#a#ly married for re)en e, althou h she says that it is pro#a#le that her father may not understand that concept, since it would ta-e a female mindset to do so" The Colonel tells her that 9immy has tau ht her a reat deal, despite e)erythin " 0lison hesitates while pac-in the s(uirrel fi urine, her part in the ame, and decides to lea)e it on the chest" <elena enters to see if she needs any help, and tells them she's not comin #acwith them #ecause of a script opportunity, surprisin 0lison" Cliff enters, and introductions are made" The Colonel e4its, ta-in the suitcase to the car" <elena offers to tell 9immy that 0lison is lea)in , since he doesn't -now yet, and 0lison i)es her a letter to i)e to him" Cliff and 0lison ma-e their ood#yes, and she lea)es" Cliff and <elena discuss what 9immy mi ht do when he finds out" Cliff re)eals his an er with the whole situation, and oes out to a)oid the scene when 9immy ets home" 9immy enters shortly after, an ry since he had seen the Colonel lea)in with 0lison when he arri)ed" <e reads 0lison's letter and ma-es fun of her attempt at niceness" <elena tells him that 0lison is pre nant, and 9immy is surprised #ut immediately declares that he couldnMt care less" <e directs his an er at <elena, irritated that she mi ht thin- he should #e o)ercome with emotion at the news, and she slaps him" They suddenly #e in -issin passionately as the

?a e 11 of :5


curtain closes"

Act II" Scene ii An #!sis

Colonel Redfern, 0lison's father, is introduced here as a much more sympathetic character than the other main characters ha)e #een" <e seems almost #ewildered at the state of affairs his dau hter finds herself in, in contrast to his wife, who 5would relish the present situation5 of ha)in 0lison come #ac- home" <e surprises his dau hter #y admittin that he and her mother were pro#a#ly wron to fi ht a ainst the marria e, somethin her mother would ne)er ha)e admitted to her" E)en #eyond lettin children ma-e their own choices in life, the Colonel ri htly analy7es the situation as a conse(uence of 9immy ha)in an enemy to fi ht a ainst8the audience wonders if there would ha)e e)er #een any marria e at all if there were no family for 9immy to find pleasure and purpose in opposin " Most li-ely, 9immy would ha)e found another )ersion of 0lison in a family that would display the proper outra e he cra)ed, and 0lison would ha)e #een spared the life she has -nown for the last few years" The Colonel depicts himself as the conscience of the play yet a ain when he accurately descri#es his dau hter and himself as fence sitters6 5A thin- you may ta-e after me a little, my dear" ,ou li-e to sit on the fence #ecause it's comforta#le and more peaceful"5 Thus, not all of 0lison's passi)eness has come from #uildin a defence a ainst 9immy= she has always #een reluctant to ta-e a stand" At is ironic that 9immy married her in part to relish the uphea)al of ta-in some action a ainst her family, #ut then ended up with a wife who was so nearly the epitome of what he detested6 inaction" ?erhaps, also, this is why 0lison allowed herself to #e whis-ed away #y a man who lo)ed the challen e of ettin her more than he cared for her8it was easier to 1ust let it happen" 0lison seems rattled #y her father's #elated apolo y, e)en oin so far as to #rin up the hurtful thin s 9immy has said recently as proof of why they were in the ri ht all alon " At is une4pected to hear Colonel Redfern as 9immy's defender in this scene, e)en tellin her that 9immy has tau ht her a lot, a#out society and life in eneral, whether she dei ns to realise it or not" <e ac-nowled es that 9immy is pro#a#ly rather accurate in callin him an 5old plant5 that's still han in around from the 5Edwardian wilderness,5 admittin that once he came #ac- to En land e)erythin had #ecome completely different, and he was unsure of how to deal with it all" 0lison responds to his compellin honesty with an e(ually tellin statement6 5,ou're hurt #ecause e)erythin is chan ed" 9immy is hurt #ecause e)erythin is the same" 0nd neither of you can face it" !omethin 's one wron somewhere, hasn't itF5 An four sentences, 9ohn Os#orne has summed up much of the feelin of unrest flowin throu h #oth sides of the eneration ap" 0lthou h this play was written in 195B, this statement rin s true in today's society, and spea-s of the fundamental impossi#ility of a e and youth e)er understandin each other, and e)er #ein satisfied with the present" Chan e is the one constant, and it is also the one thin that most people ha)e a reat deal of trou#le dealin with" Chan e is what deli)ers youth o)er the ap into a e, and chan e is what ma-es it impossi#le to loo- #ac- and understand the eneration comin up #ehind" At is a theme that can spea- to all classes, at any time in history, and this play showcases it )ery well" 0lthou h this scene is focused on the interaction #etween father and dau hter, there are other ma1or re)elations at the end" $hen confronted with 0lison lea)in , Cliff finally shows a #it of #ac-#one in refusin to #e in the middle of it when 9immy ets #ac-, lea)in <elena as the messen er" 0fter specifically sayin that he has ser)ed as a middle round for 9immy and 0lison, and that they pro#a#ly would not ha)e lasted this lon without Cliff around, Cliff finally ta-es a stand and e4tricates himself once and for all from the situation"

?a e 1: of :5


Once 9immy comes in, he already has fi ured out what has happened, and rails a ainst 0lison for the letter she has written him, once a ain #etrayin his need to see passion in his partner" <e wishes that she had called him all the terri#le thin s that he #elie)es she thin-s he is, and shown some real feelin for him, e)en if the feelin is hatred" <owe)er, it is (uestiona#le whether 0lison does actually feel this way, since e)en when discussin her disli-e of the current situation, she ne)er is too harsh a#out 9immy= she mostly seems as thou h she's 1ust i)en up on the situation, e)en defendin him sometimes when others point out his )arious flaws" ?erhaps this final lac- of emotion is why, after )iolently lashin out at <elena when he hears a#out the #a#y, they -iss passionately6 he has #een star)ed for a reaction" At is also important to note that he is offended #y <elena's supposed assumption that he would o wea-8-need at the mention of a #a#y, since that wouldn't fit the ima e he has #uilt for himself" At would #e e4pected of him to crum#le under the news that he has dri)en away the woman that was carryin his child, and instead of doin what is e4pected, he #ecomes an ry at the notion that he would e)er play into a preconcei)ed role"

Act III" Scene ii Summ r!

!e)eral months ha)e passed, and it is a !unday e)enin at the apartment" At is o#)ious that <elena has mo)ed in, as her #elon in s ha)e supplanted 0lison's on the dressin ta#le, and 9immy and Cliff are up to their usual discussion of the !unday papers" The proddin #anter is the same, althou h <elena seems a little more opinionated than 0lison was" !he seems more attenti)e to their #anter than 0lison had #een, and is ready with a response when as-ed" !he is sometimes amused #y 9immy's declarations, and sometimes cau ht off uard #y his sudden attac-s" 9immy and Cliff #e in an old )aude)ille routine, each playin a part, includin son and dance and <elena also plays a part as the #utt of the 1o-e" 9immy soon has enou h and #e ins wrestlin with Cliff, who ends up dirtyin his shirt" <elena offers to wash it, lea)in him shirtless this time instead of trouser8less as #efore" !he lea)es to wash the shirt, and 9immy confronts Cliff o)er his not li-in <elena as much as he did 0lison" Cliff reminds 9immy that not too lon a o, 9immy had the same feelin a#out her, and says that the situation is 1ust different now that <elena has mo)ed in" Cliff re)eals that he wants to mo)e out, may#e find a wife and (uit the sweet8stall #usiness" 9immy a rees with him, althou h he seems to dis uise his disappointment #y ma-in fun of him" <elena comes #ac- in with the shirt, now clean, and Cliff lea)es to dry it o)er the as" <elena and 9immy tal- a#out oin out that ni ht, and they discuss Cliff lea)in , which <elena already -new a#out since Cliff told her the ni ht #efore" There is a mar-ed increase in affection #etween them in comparison to 9immy and 0lison, and they #e in to -iss" They tal#riefly and whimsically a#out their dreams for the future, lea)in the sweet8stall and startin their li)es o)er" 0s they #rea- apart to et ready to o out for the e)enin , 0lison suddenly appears at the door, wearin a raincoat and loo-in ill" At is o#)ious that she must ha)e had a miscarria e" 9immy lea)es immediately, tellin <elena that she has a 5friend5 here to see her, lea)in 0lison and <elena alone on sta e, loo-in at each other in silence as the curtain draws to a close"

Act III" Scene i An #!sis

The scene is set e4actly the same, su#stitutin <elena for 0lison, as it was at the #e innin of the play, with the newspapers the #asis for the sparrin #etween 9immy and Cliff" At is interestin to note that <elena is e)en wearin one of 9immy's old shirts, as 0lison had #een

?a e 1D of :5


wearin in the openin of 0ct A, as if <elena had completely stepped into the same role that 0lison had played for 9immy without missin a #eat" One difference is that <elena seems to ha)e si nificantly more life in her than 0lison had, which o#)iously pleases 9immy, althou h she is still cau ht off8 uard when he does say somethin heartless" <elena seems at the ready to #anter alon with the men, instead of i norin them the way 0lison had" !he e)en ta-es part in their impromptu performance of an old )aude)ille routine, actin in a #it part as the catalyst for the punch line to their old 1o-e %e)en thou h it is she who is the professional sta e actress." !ince the reader is pri)y to the information that the relationship #etween 9immy and <elena is still in its early sta es, one wonders whether this is how 0lison may ha)e started out, #efore #ein worn down #y years of the same tedious and repetiti)e interaction" The two men o throu h an ela#orate son and dance routine, actually seemin to ha)e fun for a minute and puttin their competiti)eness aside, includin <elena in the comedy" ;inally, 9immy loses patience with it and #e ins another wrestlin match with Cliff, as seems to #e the custom= the men are o#)iously more at ease when competin Cliff re)eals to 9immy that he is finally considerin mo)in out= he touches on the fact that he misses 0lison, #ut ma-es other e4cuses as well" 9immy seems to dismiss the announcement e)en thou h it is clear that he has few friends, a reein that it's a ood idea for Cliff" The two men seem to adopt the accepted 5manly5 roles of hidin their emotions, and the sta e directions fran-ly su est that their air of calm is 1ust a faNade" $hat is stran e a#out this situation is that 9immy adopts this same attitude" <e is clearly oin to #e affected #y the loss of Cliff as a sparrin partner, #oth literally and fi urati)ely, and notin that he has )ery few friends to #e in with since he is rather hard to put up with, he should #e pretty #ro-en up a#out losin Cliff as a flatmate" Remem#er also that 9immy is constantly complainin a#out the lac- of action and emotion around him" <ere is a perfect chance to indul e in those thin s, and instead he displays a nonchalant attitude and continues with his newspaper" Cliff adopts the same attitude after seein 9immy's lead, seemin ly e4pectin much more of a scene than this" This could #e why Cliff told <elena a#out his impendin mo)e #efore tellin 9immy, to ha)e her support in case 9immy caused an uproar a#out it" 0lso worth notin here is the fact that, for all his o#)ious intelli ence a#out the world, 9immy is constantly the last one to -now a#out thin s in his own life" Most larin is the issue of 0lison's pre nancy, which Cliff, <elena and pro#a#ly Colonel Redfern -new a#out #efore 9immy, the father of the child, was let in on the secret" Once a ain, the news of his flatmate mo)in out reaches the ears of the newest addition to the space #efore it reaches 9immy, the ori inal #est friend" 0lthou h 9immy may stri)e to maintain himself as the center of attention, he is failin at #ein the centre of his world, since his attitude and reactions cause people to censor sensiti)e news to pre)ent him from ma-in a scene" 0lison arri)es unannounced at the end of this scene, shoc-in <elena and 9immy" They ha)e 1ust #een ma-in their e)enin plans and showin each other enuine affection without need of ames, an o#)ious difference from the scene with 0lison at the #e innin of the play" <elena e)en tells 9immy that she lo)es him, words that ne)er were uttered in front of the audience #etween 9immy and 0lison" $hat's more, they ha)e #een casually referrin to their reat plans for their future to ether= a future which rinds to a halt the minute the door is opened to show 0lison standin there" <er appearance is meant to instantly con)ey to the audience that she's #een throu h a miscarria e, since she is o#)iously no lon er pre nant and loo-s sic-ly" 9immy's reaction to her )isit once a ain #rin s out the childishness in him, and he #latantly i nores her and #olts for the door" 0 responsi#le man, whether an ry at her or not for lea)in , would ha)e in(uired after her health and his own child, #ut for all his #lusterin and posturin

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9immy a ain shows his immaturity"

Act III" Scene ii Summ r!

0 few minutes after 9immy lea)es, his trumpet can #e heard" 0lison relates how many times she tried to come to the apartment, #ut she turned #ac- #efore she ot there" !he fiddles with 9immy's pipe and tells <elena a#out how she e)en purposely sat #ehind a man smo-in one at the mo)ies, e)en thou h she hates it" !he laments a#out arri)in there at all, and the two women apolo ise to each other for the wron s they each ha)e done" They ar ue a#out who is at fault #etween them, 0lison for #ar in in, or <elena for ta-in up her place to #e in with" <elena points out, (uite accurately, that 0lison has more of a ri ht to #e there than she, <elena, does, since 0lison is still 9immy's wife" This re)eals that they ha)e not di)orced, and <elena had essentially #ecome a -ind of ac-nowled ed mistress" <elena comments that 9immy was #orn in the completely wron era, which 0lison readily a rees with" <elena suddenly declares that it is all o)er #etween her and 9immy, seein 0lison as she is now and reali7in what she has done" 0lison tries to discoura e her, #ut admits that neither of the women is ri ht for him" <elena yells out the door at 9immy to et him to stop playin his trumpet, #ut he continues unheedin ly" !he orders him to come in the room" They #oth comment on how sic- 0lison loo-s, and that she o#)iously had lost the child" <elena tells him that she's lea)in , and implores him not to #lame 0lison for it" 9immy sweeps e)erythin of <elena's from the dressin ta#le, and hands her a dress out of the wardro#e" !he lea)es, and 9immy and 0lison are alone" 9immy laments a ainst the church #ells, which are rin in " 0s 0lison tries to lea)e, he accuses her of not sendin any flowers to <u h's mother's funeral" <e desperately recounts their courtship, tryin to ma-e her stay" !he finally collapses at his feet, i)in him the picture of the completely downtrodden human #ein he seems to ha)e #een tryin to ma-e her #ecome" <e #ends to hold her, and suddenly #e ins their #ear and s(uirrel ame" ;inally, she responds, as the s(uirrel, as the curtain closes"

Act III" Scene ii An #!sis

*oth <elena and 0lison are apolo etic, althou h lo ically <elena should #e the one doin the apolo isin since 0lison and 9immy are still married" At is another indication of 0lison's wea-ness of will that she falls all o)er herself with apolo ies for comin #ac- when one would e4pect her to #e an ry" <owe)er, althou h 9immy would ha)e (uic-ly interpreted 0lison's actions and con)ersation as another si n of her wea- mind and wea- will, <elena instead interprets them as a si n of 0lison's enuinely ood nature" The same traits that would ha)e outra ed 9immy had he #een in the room instead ser)e as an e)en #etter reproach to <elena than if 0lison had shown up screamin and yellin at her" At is this modesty of character that causes <elena to suddenly decide that she is lea)in 9immy immediately" !uch a wea-ness of spirit is usually not a#le to persuade anyone to do anythin , as 9immy would certainly ma-e -nown" $hile the women are tal-in , 9immy is once a ain attemptin to put himself in the centre of attention" <e is o#stinately playin his trumpet, -nowin how annoyin it can #e to the other residents, and to <elena and 0lison when they are sure to #e ha)in a serious con)ersation" <e retreats #ehind the #lare of the trumpet, #ecause e)en if he cannot #e physically the centre of the room, he can intrude with his playin " *etween the trumpet and the church #ells, Os#orne often uses common loud noises to si nify the intrusion of an outside force, #e it the outside structure of society with the church #ells, or 9immy's presence with his trumpetin " The con)ersation #etween the two women turns to what is wron with 9immy, and <elena

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accurately states, 5There's no place for people li-e that any lon er 8 in se4, or politics, or anythin " That's why he's so futile" !ometimes, when A listen to him, A feel he thin-s he's still in the middle of the ;rench Re)olution" 0nd that's where he ou ht to #e, of course" <e doesn't -now where he is, or where he's oin " <e'll ne)er do anythin , and he'll ne)er amount to anythin "5 9immy's character is summed up in this statement= since he has no re)olution to fi ht, he ma-es one where)er he can, thus alienatin his friends and family and endin up ri ht where he started" This may #e where much of his frustration is comin from6 he was #orn out of his time, and findin a completely inert society around him, he is left with his re)olutionary tendencies and no outlet for them" 0s <elena says, he is flounderin so #adly with a yearnin for a time in the past that he cannot et a hold on his place in life" Anstead of an identity crisis, it's ar ua#ly an era crisis in that he -nows who he is, #ut he doesn't -now where he fits in the modern world around him" This also plays into the eneration ap theme already discussed" +ot only is there a ap #etween 9immy and the older eneration that Colonel Redfern #elon s to, there is a ap #etween himself and his own eneration since he seemin ly has #een #orn into the wron one" ?eople often say that they should ha)e #een 5#orn in the si4ties5 or 5#orn in the se)enties,5 #ecause they feel a -inship with a certain time period and out of place in their time" 0t the end of the play, althou h <elena announces that she's lea)in him and 0lison seems to #e too, 9immy once a ain draws 0lison #ac- in throu h the dynamic of his cherished sufferin and her wea-ness" <e laments, and she concedes, and they end the play 1ust as they had started, with the s(uirrel and #ear ame" Once a ain, 9immy has failed to find a foothold in anythin , and the wheel has deposited him ri ht #ac- at the #e innin " <e ra es, #ut without action his ra e is impotent" One can't tell if it's hope that sees them end up to ether, or weariness with fi htin a ainst it" !till, the reader lea)es hopin , e)en thou h all e)idence shows us otherwise, that somethin #etter will come for them"

Ch r cters
He#en Ch r#es
<elena is 0lison's friend, a )ery proper middle8class woman" !he is an actress who comes to stay with the ?orters while she performs in a play at the local theatre" 9immy has lon despised her, as he considers her a mem#er of the Esta#lishment" $hen she contacts 0lison's father and as-s him to ta-e 0lison home, <elena seems enuinely concerned a#out 0lison" <owe)er, she seduces 9immy and replaces 0lison in the household" $hen 0lison returns, <elena realises that her affair with 9immy is wron and decides to lea)e"

C#i$$ Le%is
Cliff is 9immy's friend and partner in the sweet stall and shares the ?orters' flat, with his own #edroom across the hall" Cliff is a poorly educated, wor-in class man of $elsh herita e" <e is warm, lo)in , and humorous" <e is sympathetic to 0lison #ut ad1usts when she lea)es and <elena mo)es in" CliffMs first alle iance is to 9immy" +e)ertheless, ultimately he decides to ma-e his way alone"

A#ison Porter
0lison has #een married to 9immy for three years" !he comes from the upper8middle8class Esta#lishment" <er father was a colonel in the colonial ser)ice, and the family li)ed )ery

?a e 16 of :5


comforta#ly in Andia until 19>B" <er #rother +i el attended !andhurst, and is a Mem#er of ?arliament" !he married 9immy partly as a re#ellion a ainst the proper, predicta#le, stultifyin precepts of her class" <owe)er, she has #een influenced #y many esta#lishment )alues and it is her 5fence sittin ,5 her lac- of total emotional commitment that pro)o-es 9immy's attac-s" 0lison is warm and open with Cliff without displayin a se4ual attraction to him" 9immyMs assaults on 0lison are nasty and sometimes sa)a e" <e seems to #e tryin to force her to ha)e a enuine response, somethin comin from her that is not colored #y her class and up#rin in " <e says she is not real #ecause she has not suffered real pain and de radation" $hen she lea)es he is hurt #ut (uic-ly ad1usts" $hen <elena ta-es char e and arran es for 0lison to lea)e 9immy, 0lison does not protest and does indeed return to her parents, their )alues, and the security they offer" 0lison is drawn #ac- to 9immy at the end after she has suffered the pain and loss #rou ht #y the miscarria e of her child"

Co#one# Red$ern
Colonel Redfern, 0lison's father, is a retired army officer who ser)ed in Andia from 191D to 19>B" 2urin that time he seldom spent any time in En land" <e represents the )alues and #eliefs of another period, a time of *ritish Empire" <is )alues are those of duty, honor, and loyalty to one's country and one's class" <is world ended with the independence of Andia" <e is a reasona#le man somewhat #emused #y the post8$orld $ar AA En land" <e does not appro)e of 9immy, #ut he does find thin s to admire in him and e)en a rees with 9immy in some instances" <e does not hesitate to help 0lison and does not attempt to control her"

Jimm! Porter
9immy ?orter is a character of psycholo ical comple4ity and interest" <e dominates the play throu h the power of his an er and lan ua e" <e unleashes his in)ecti)e on what he calls the Esta#lishment %those 5#orn5 to power and pri)ile e., the church %as part of the Esta#lishment., and his lo)ed ones" 0lthou h 9immy has raduated from a uni)ersity/al#eit one with no presti e/he wor-s with Cliff as ownerHproprietor of a sweet stall in an outdoor mar-et" An spite of his tendency to sometimes cruelly insult Cliff, 9immy enuinely li-es him" 9immy has hated <elena for the same reasons he hated 0lison, namely her social class and 5proper5 up#rin in " $hile 9immy apparently hates 0lison's mother, he seems to li-e Colonel Redfern #ecause he can feel sorry for him" Os#orne descri#es 9immy as 5a disconcertin mi4ture of sincerity and cheerful malice, of tenderness and free#ootin cruelty= restless, importunate, full of pride, a com#ination which alienates the sensiti)e and insensiti)e ali-e"5 Critic <arold ;errar assessed him as a man of decency and charity who is 5one of life's #eautiful losers,5 while Michael Co)eney called him 5a lo)a#le monster with the ift of the a# and a talent for resentment"5

A#ien tion nd Lone#iness
9immy ?orter spo-e for a lar e se ment of the *ritish population in 1956 when he ranted a#out his alienation from a society in which he was denied any meanin ful role" 0lthou h he was educated at a 5white8tile5 uni)ersity, a reference to the newest and least presti ious uni)ersities in the Cnited Oin dom, the real power and opportunities were reser)ed for the children of the Esta#lishment, those #orn to pri)ile e, family connections, and entry to the 5ri ht5 schools" ?art of the Esta#lishment eti(uette was the 5stiff upper lip,5 that reticence to show or e)en to feel stron emotions" 9immy's alienation from 0lison comes precisely

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#ecause he cannot #rea- throu h her 5cool,5 her unwillin ness to feel deeply e)en durin se4ual intercourse with her hus#and" <e #erates her in a coarse attempt to et her to stri-e out at him, to stop 5sittin on the fence5 and ma-e a full commitment to her real emotions= he wants to force her to feel and to ha)e )ital life" <e calls her 5&ady ?usillanimous5 #ecause he sees her as too cowardly to commit to anythin " 9immy is an4ious to i)e a reat deal and is deeply an ry #ecause no one seems interested enou h to ta-e from him, includin his wife" <e says, 5My heart is so full, A feel ill/and she wants peaceG5

An&er nd H tred
9immy ?orter operates out of a deep well of an er" <is an er is directed at those he lo)es #ecause they refuse to ha)e stron feelin s, at a society that did not fulfill promises of opportunity, and at those who smu ly assume their places in the social and power structure and who do not care for others" <e lashes out in an er #ecause of his deeply felt helplessness" One catalyst for his an er can #e found in his e4perience as a ten year old of watchin his idealist father dyin from wounds recei)ed fi htin for democracy in the !panish Ci)il $ar, his father tal-in for hours, 5pourin out all that was left of his life to one #ewildered little #oy"5 <e says, 5,ou see, A learnt at an early a e what it was to #e an ry/an ry and helpless" 0nd A can ne)er for et it"5

A' th! nd P ssi(it!

0lthou h 0lison is the direct tar et of 9immy's in)ecti)e, her apathy and passi)ity are attitudes that 9immy sees as underminin the whole of society" At is the complacent #landness of society that infuriates 9immy" $hen spea-in of 0lison's #rother +i el, he says, 5,ou')e ne)er heard so many well8#red commonplaces comin from #eneath the same #owler hat"5 The Church also comes under attac-, in part #ecause it has lost rele)ance to contemporary life" ;or <elena attendin church is a safe ha#it, and one that defines ri ht and wron for her, althou h she seems perfectly willin to i nore its prohi#ition a ainst adultery when it suits her" 9immy sees the church as pro)idin an easy escape from facin the pain of li)in in the here and now, and thus precludin any real redemption" Of course, 9immy has also slipped into a world of ritual as illustrated #y the three !unday e)enin s spent readin the newspapers and e)en the direct replacement of 0lison at the ironin #oard with <elena" <a#it is portrayed as insidious"

C# ss Con$#ict
9immy comes from the wor-in class, and althou h some of his mother's relati)es are 5pretty posh,5 Cliff tells 0lison that 9immy hates them as much as he hates her family" At is the class system, with its #uilt8in preferential treatment for those at the top and e4clusion from all power for those at the #ottom, that ma-es 9immy's e4istence seem so meanin less" <e has a uni)ersity de ree, #ut it is not from the 5ri ht5 uni)ersity" At is +i el, the 5strai ht8#ac-ed, chinless wonder5 who went to !andhurst, who 9immy #elie)es to #e stupid and insensiti)e to the needs of others, to ha)e no #eliefs of his own, who is already a Mem#er of ?arliament, and will 5ma-e it to the top"5 0lison's father, Colonel Redfern, is not shown unsympathetically, #ut her mother is portrayed as a class8conscious monster who used e)ery tactic she could to pre)ent 0lison from marryin 9immy" The only person for whom 9immy's lo)e is apparent is <u h's wor-in 8class mother" 9immy li-es Cliff #ecause, as Cliff himself says, 5A'm common"5

Identit! Crisis
$hile 9immy haran ues e)eryone around him to open themsel)es to honest feelin , he is stru lin with his own pro#lems of identity" <e doesn't seem to fit in anywhere in society"

?a e 18 of :5


0s Colonel Redfern points out, operatin a sweet stall seems an odd occupation for an educated youn man" 9immy sees sufferin the pain of life as the only way to find, or 5earn,5 one's true identity" 0lison, who seems immune to this, does finally suffer the immeasura#le loss of her un#orn child and comes #ac- to 9immy, who seems to em#race her" <elena disco)ers that she can #e herself only if she li)es accordin to her principles of ri ht and wron " Colonel Redfern is cau ht out of his time" The En land he left as a youn army officer no lon er e4ists" 9immy calls him 51ust one of those sturdy old plants left o)er from the Edwardian $ilderness that can't understand why the sun isn't shinin anymore,5 and the Colonel a rees" Cliff does seem to ha)e a stron sense of who he is, accepts that, and will mo)e on with his life"

The construction of Look Back in Anger is that of a classic, well8made play in the tradition of <enri- A#sen, 0u ust !trind#er , Tennessee $illiams, or most of Os#orne's contemporary commercial playwri hts" There is one place and one plot de)eloped o)er three acts %the e4pected num#er in 1956., and the #asic plot de)ice is ancient6 misalliance in marria e compounded #y a lo)e trian le" There is some e4position that has #een characteri7ed as clumsy, such as when 9immy tells 0lison, to whom he has #een married three years, how his #usiness had #een financed" !ome plot de)ices stand out as the author's contri)ances, such as CliffMs e4it in 0ct AA to #uy ci arettes, and his uncon)incin reasons for returnin a couple of minutes later 1ust as 0lison is a#out to tell 9immy that she is pre nant= the telephone call from <elena prepares for the 0ct A curtain, and a phone call sayin <u h's mother is dyin prepares the 0ct AA, !cene i curtain" The end of 0ct AA, !cene ii, with the two women left loo-in at each other, has #een )iewed as artificial" Os#orne's inno)ations were not in form #ut rather in character, lan ua e, and passion which, for the most part mas- the clumsy mechanics when the play is #ein acted"

Contemporary readin s of Look Back in Anger often hi hli ht the se4ism underlyin it" 9immy ?orter is accused of miso yny, and 0lison of #ein merely a personification of the )alues that anta onise 9immy"

The play ta-es place in the ?orters' one8room flat, a fairly lar e attic room" The furniture is simple and rather old6 a dou#le #ed, dressin ta#le, #oo- shel)es, chest of drawers, dinin ta#le and three chairs, and two sha##y leather arm chairs" The plain, dra# settin of the play illustrates the contrast #etween the idealistic 9immy and the dull reality of the world surroundin him"

Im &er!
Two sound ima es from off8sta e are used )ery effecti)ely in Look Back in Anger$ the church #ells and 9immy's 1a77 trumpet" The church #ells permeate the small li)in space and ser)e as a reminder of the re ulatory power of the esta#lished church, and also that it does not respect their secular domestic peace" The 1a77 trumpet allows 9immy to dominate the sta e e)en when he is not there, and it also functions as his anti8Esta#lishment 5rasp#erry"5

L n&u &e
?a e 19 of :5 www"pilot8theatre"com

Os#orne's use of lan ua e is ali ned with realism" The characters' speech and rhythms reflect their class and education" <elena is )ery proper and con)entional and so is her speech" Cliff is hum#le, Colonel Redfern is calm and reflecti)e, 0lison is proper, non81ud mental and noncommittal" 9immy ?orter, thou h, #ro-e with tradition" $or-in class characters were not new to the En lish sta e, #ut pre)iously they were commonly comic fi ures with a limited dialect )oca#ulary, or e)en an ry, inarticulate fi ures in)itin scorn or pity" An contrast 9immy is e4tremely articulate and self8confident" <is passion is o)erwhelmin and he has the lan ua e to o)erwhelm others with that passion" <is lan ua e is not polite, and could concei)a#ly ha)e #een e)en less so if theatre censorship had not #een in effect when the play was written" 9immy can also #e humorous and poetic, as when he uses the ima e of a 5sturdy old plant left o)er from the Edwardian $ilderness5 to descri#e Colonel Redfern"

Historic # Conte)t
*y 1956 the *ritish empire had #een shrin-in for decades, with the rantin of independence to Andia in 19>B, the loss of 0frican colonies and the near independence of the Commonwealth nations such as Canada, 0ustralia, and +ew Pealand" The !ue7 crises in 1956, in which E ypt refused to renew the *ritish8owned !ue7 Canal Company's concession, resulted in a disastrous and humiliatin inter)ention #y En land, and emphasised the lac- of power wielded #y *ritain in the post $orld $ar AA world" There had also #een incursions into the power structure since early Eictorian times, with the rulin classes resistin e)ery inch of the way" An 19>5, the &a#our ?arty won an impressi)e )ictory o)er the Tories, thus turnin the war8time hero $inston Churchill out of office" This was a mandate for the welfare state and the end of the class system" ?rosperity for all was the hope of the people" +ationali7ed medicine #ecame a reality and a social welfare system was constructed" An the words of <arold ;errar, 5an era of affluence was predicted, and a meritocracy that would supersede the rei n of old school ties"5 The new 5red8#ric-5 uni)ersities were #uilt and reatly e4panded educational opportunities, #ut the old power structure did not simply cede control" ?rice controls and other austerity measures were imposed" *y 1951 it was apparent that the land of mil-8and8honey had not arri)ed" $inston Churchill was a ain )oted into office" The Church of En land, too, was out of touch with the daily li)es of most En lishmen" The church was not simply a spiritual leader #ut also the owner of )ast properties and thus a mem#er of the landholdin class" The church is attac-ed #y 9immy, who (uotes the fictional *ishop of *romley as sayin that he is upset #ecause someone has su ested that he supports the rich a ainst the poor" <e denies class distinctions and says, 5The idea has #een persistently and wic-edly fostered #y/the wor-in classesG5 The international scene was also frau ht with dan ers" The *erlin crisis in 19>8819>9 clearly pointed out that the peace followin $orld $ar AA was fra ile" The *oer and Arish risin s and the ?alestine (uestion further reminded the En lish that this new hard8won peace was not oin to #e easy or complete" E)eryone li)ed under threat of instantaneous annihilation from the 08#om#" 9immy says, 5Af the #i #an does come, and we all et -illed off, it won't #e in aid of the old8fashioned, rand desi n" At'll 1ust #e for the *ra)e +ew8nothin 8)ery8much8 than-8you" 0#out as pointless and in lorious as steppin in front of a #us"5 &ess than two wee-s after Look Back in Anger opened the first air#orne hydro en #om# was e4ploded" An Octo#er, 1956, En land's first full scale use of nuclear fuel to produce electricity went into effect at Calder <all" The facility also manufactured plutonium for military use in de)elopin their own <8#om#" That same year there were uprisin s in <un ary and ?oland and the !o)iet Cnion put them down with military force"

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An the Cnited !tates followin $orld $ar AA there was a period of eneral and unprecedented prosperity" <owe)er, opportunity was 5deferred5 for some, especially #lac- people, the rural poor, and women" Mo)ements to challen e the status (uo of e4clusion were #e innin " Re)erend Martin &uther Oin , 9r", or ani7ed a #oycott of Mont omery, 0la#ama, pu#lic transportation as a protest a ainst discrimination" The !upreme Court had issued an historic dese re ation rulin in 195> and in 1956 a #loc of !outhern Con ressmen issued a manifest pled in to use 5all lawful means5 to o)erturn that rulin " &ondon theatre at the time has #een descri#ed as 5a )ast desert=5 5only interested in innocuous little plays which would pro)ide a )ehicle for a star to achie)e a lon and tedious run=5 5fairly fri)olous"5 The 0rts Council of 3reat *ritain had #een formed after $orld $ar AA to support the arts nationwide, #ut it had se)erely limited funds" &ondon theatre in 1955 was commercial theatre" The most decisi)e success on e)ery le)el was Enid *a nold's litterin and artificial hi h comedy8mystery The %halk arden, a play that could ha)e #een written any time since Oscar $ilde" Terence Ratti an was represented with his plays The Deep Bl&e 'ea and 'eparate Ta#les" Most plays were li ht comedies, farces, and mysteries/includin 0 atha Christie's The (o&se Trap, which has continued to en1oy successful productions" The musicals included the contemporary 'alad Days and The Boyfriend, frothy pieces set in what seemed to #e an idealised Edwardian En land" There were fourteen 0merican shows of one -ind of another and si4 imports from ?aris playin in the $est End" &ondon theatre remained a middle8class, middle8a ed theatre" The fare was dictated #y the pu#lic and that particular pu#lic li-ed what was i)en to them" They wanted somethin 5safe"5

Critic # O(er(ie%
Look Back in Anger has #een reco ni7ed as a #om#shell that #lew up the old *ritish theatre" <owe)er, when Look Back in Anger opened as the third play in the repertory of the En lish !ta e Company at the Royal Court Theatre %a company that had #een founded the year #efore precisely to stimulate new writin that would ha)e contemporary rele)ance., it was not an immediate success" The critical reaction was mi4ed, #ut many of the critics, whether or not they li-ed the play, ac-nowled ed its merits and those of its youn author" Cecil $ilson in the Daily (ail assessed 9immy ?orter as a 5youn neurotic who li)es li-e a pi ,5 whose 5#itterness produces a fine flow of sa)a e tal-, #ut is #asically a #ore #ecause its reasons are ne)er e4plained"5 *ut $ilson also said that the En lish !ta e Company 5ha)e not disco)ered a masterpiece, #ut they have disco)ered a dramatist of outstandin promise, a man who can write with searin passion #ut happens in this case to ha)e la)ished it on the wron play"5 9ohn *ar-er, critic for the Daily E)press, asserted that Look Back in Anger 5is intense, an ry, fe)erish, undisciplined" At is e)en cra7y" *ut it is youn , youn , youn "5 Milton !hulman of the Evening 'tandard attac-ed the play, sayin " 5At aims at #ein a despairin cry #ut achie)es only the stature of a self8pityin sni)el"5 +e)ertheless, !hulman admitted that 5Mr" Os#orne has a da77lin aptitude for pro)o-in and stimulatin dialo ue, and he draws characters with firm con)incin stro-es"5 ?hilip <ope8$allace of the (anchester &ardian responded ne ati)ely to the play as well, callin it 5a stron ly felt #ut rather muddled first drama,5 #ut conceded that 5they ha)e ot a potential playwri ht at last, all the same"5 <arold <o#son of the '&nday Times pro)ided a positi)e assessment of the play and wrote of Os#orne6 5Thou h the #lin-ers still o#scure his )ision, he is a writer of outstandin promise"5 The critic for the *e+ 'tatesman and *ation maintained that althou h Look Back in Anger was 5not a perfect playQit is a most e4citin one, a#oundin with life and )itality"""" Af you are youn , it will spea- for you" Af you are middle8a ed, it will tell you what the youn are feelin "5 *ut it was Oenneth Tynan of the "#server who created the most e4citement with what is perhaps the most famous re)iew in contemporary theatre" Tynan remar-ed6 5That the play needs chan es A do not deny6 it is twenty minutes too lon , and not e)en Mr" <ai h's #ra)ura could #lind me to the painful whimsy of the final reconciliation" A a ree that Look Back in Anger is li-ely to remain a minority taste" $hat matters, howe)er, is the si7e of the

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minority" A estimate it at rou hly 6,BDD,@@@, which is the num#er of people in this country #etween the a es of twenty and thirty" 0nd this fi ure will dou#tless #e swelled #y refu ees from other a e8 roups who are curious to -now precisely what the contemporary youn pup is thin-in and feelin """ At is the #est youn play of its decade"5 An spite of the tremendous critical e4citement it enerated, Look Back in Anger was not financially successful durin its first run" ?art of the pro#lem was thou ht to #e the fact that rotatin repertory/a practice new to 195@s &ondon/was confusin to audiences who were una#le to determine when any particular play was #ein performed" At was decided in 0u ust to cancel the other plays and run Look Back in Anger alone for ele)en wee-s, #ut e)en then the tic-et sales failed to meet e4penses" 0 twenty8fi)e minute e4cerpt from the play was #roadcast #y **C on Octo#er 16, and followin that the play sold out for its run and a three8 wee- run in another theatre" 0 production of Look Back in Anger then toured En land" At recei)ed the Evening 'tandard A+ard as #est new play of 1956" Look Back in Anger opened at the &yceum Theatre on *roadway on Octo#er 1st 195B, with the ori inal cast and recei)ed )ery stron re)iews" At ran for >@B performances, had a second *roadway production #e innin in +o)em#er 1958, and toured the Cnited !tates and Canada" At recei)ed the +ew ,or- 2rama Critics Circle 0ward as the #est forei n play of 195B" At then played all o)er the world" At continues to #e produced, #oth #y professional and amateur theatre roups" That Look Back in Anger still has the power to mo)e audiences was shown #y 9udi 2ench's 1989 re)i)al of the play in *elfast, +orthern Areland, which starred Oenneth *rana h" Maureen ?aton, in the Daily E)press, commented6 5This de)astatin study of a disinte ratin marria e has ne)er dated since it chan ed *ritish theatre #ac- in 1956"5 2amian !myth, in the Independent, declared6 50t the point when 9immy prescri#es for 0lison's lac- of authenticity that she should ha)e a child and that it should die, when he doesn't -now she is already pre nant #y him, there went up an instincti)e asp of shoc-" That's not #ad after DD years, and it is a testimony to the stren th of this production in a city not unaccustomed to shoc-"5 Michael *illin ton, critic for the &ardian, asserted that 53ood plays chan e their meanin with time= and it is a measure of the (uality of 9ohn Os#orne' s Look Back in Anger that it now seems a )ery different wor- to the one sta ed at the Royal Court in 1956"5 0lthou h to *illin ton the play 5seemed less an incendiary social drama than Ia Eu eneJ O'+eill8li-e e4ploration of personal pain,5 he went on to note that 5what is sli htly chillin is to realise how topical many of Os#orne's ideas remain"5

*edi Ad 't tions

Look Back in Anger was adapted in 1958 as a film #y 9ohn Os#orne and +i el Oneale" At was produced #y $oodfall ;ilms, a company formed #y 9ohn Os#orne and Tony Richardson" At was directed #y Tony Richardson, and starred Richard *urton and Claire *loom" 0 second film as made in 198@, directed #y &indsay 0nderson %a former artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre." At starred Malcolm Mc2owell and &isa *anes" The 1989 re)i)al directed #y 9udi 2ench for a )ery limited run in *elfast was filmed for Thames Tele)ision" The tele)ision )ersion was directed #y 2a)id 9ones and starred Oenneth *rana h and Emma Thompson"

To'ics $or +urther Stud!

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Research the 5$elfare !tate5 pro rammes and policies in post8war En land" $hy would these not satisfy someone li-e 9immy ?orterF Compare 0u ust !trind#er 's The ,ather or Dance of Death, and <enri- A#sen's A Doll-s Ho&se with Look Back in Anger for #oth style and content" Research the decline of the *ritish Empire" <ow would that decline affect En land itself and people as different as 9immy ?orter and Colonel RedfernF As 9immy ?orter an 5an ry youn man5 with a purpose, or is he merely a tiresome, cruel whinerF 2oes roc- music of the 196@s and 19B@s contain any of the themes of Look Back in Anger. 2oes the roc- music of today contain any of those themesF

Com' re , Contr st
-./01 The welfare state was in place in En land with pu#lic ownership of the main utilities, such as telephone, as and electricity, a national health ser)ice, and a national welfare system that pro)ided a minimum le)el of economic security for nearly the whole population" Tod !1 The pu#lic utilities ha)e #een pri)atised, and there ha)e #een #road reductions in pu#lic pro rams, includin national health" -./01 The European Common Mar-et was still an idea and mo)ement across national #oundaries was strictly controlled" Tod !1 The European Common Mar-et is firmly in place, Europe is on the #rin- of ha)in a common currency, and mo)ement across #orders #etween European countries is easier" -./01 The Cold $ar #etween #loc-s of nations led #y two superpowers was in full effect and nuclear annihilation was felt as a constant possi#ility" Tod !1 $ith the collapse of the !o)iet Cnion the Cold $ar was effecti)ely won #y the $est and the threat of nuclear annihilation reduced= howe)er, there are more nations with nuclear weapons a#ility and the threat of annihilation is still real if not popularly percei)ed as such" -./01 Roc- and roll music was 1ust startin in the Cnited !tates and was hardly -nown in En land" Tod !1 Roc- and roll music has one throu h many sta es, with many of the most influential strains ori inatin in En land, and is the popular music associated with youth, as well as a powerful means of re#ellion" -./01 Radio and tele)ision was pro)ided #y the state8financed *ritish *roadcastin Corporation, which produced most of what was #roadcast" Tod !1 Commercial radio and tele)ision compete with the **C, satellite and di ital ser)ices pro)ide an immense choice of popular fare, and the ma1or centers of production are in the Cnited !tates" -./01 The newly8founded En lish !ta e Company at the Royal Court Theatre pro)ided the only ma1or outlet for contemporary rele)ant drama of dou#tful commercial )alue in &ondon

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Tod !1 The Royal +ational Theatre and the Royal !ha-espeare Company #oth pro)ide ma1or outlets for rele)ant contemporary drama, and there are hundreds of theatres that produce new plays"

2h t 3o I Re d Ne)t4
The Entertainer is Os#orne's second play, produced #y The En lish !ta e Company in 195B" Os#orne offers the outdated and dyin En lish music hall and the main character, second8rate performer 0rchie Rice, as a metaphor for En land" L&ther is Os#orne's psycholo ical study of Martin &uther as a pri)ate man, rather than as a pu#lic reli ious fi ure and insti ator of the ?rotestant Reformation" Inadmissi#le Evidence is the product of a more mature artistic mind and e)idenced that Os#orne could successfully #rea- traditional dramatur ical rules" At pic-s up Os#orne's chronicle of the state of contemporary En land where Look Back in Anger left off" A Better %lass of Person is Os#orne's auto#io raphy up to the production of Look Back in Anger. Almost a entleman is Os#orne's second )olume of auto#io raphy and #e ins with his fame as a playwri ht that followed the production of Look Back in Anger. /oots is a play #y 0rnold $es-er produced #y the En lish !ta e Company" At deals with a youn woman of the rural wor-in class findin her own )oice and is an e4ample of the many plays dealin realistically with contemporary En land that followed Look Back in Anger. Plays for P&#lic Places are short plays written #y <oward *renton in 19B1 which deal with En land from a eneration after the time of Look Back in Anger. A Doll-s Ho&se #y <enri- A#sen is a realistic play written in 18B9 that focuses on a marria e in which a wife is seen as a possession and finally asserts her selfhood and independence" At also deals with the stultifyin effects of social con)entions and strictures" The ,ather, written #y 0u ust !trind#er in 188B, is a realistic play which deals with e4treme marital stress which results in the hus#and's mental insta#ility"

+urther Re din&
*rowne, Terry $ Play+rights- Theatre, The English 'tage %ompany at the /oyal %o&rt, ?itman, 19B5" This #oo- details the first production of Look Back in Anger and i)es a #road )iew of theatre conditions, includin censorship, #oth #efore and after the production" Rusin-o, !usan" British Drama, 0123 to the Present, Twayne, 1989" This #oo- offers a concise )iew of de)elopments in *ritish #oth leadin up to and after Look Back in Anger. Taylor, 9ohn Russell" The Angry Theatre, <ill and $an , 1969" Taylor deals with the mo)ement in theatre from the production of Look Back in Anger to 1968 and e4amines playwri hts who were encoura ed and influenced #y Os#orne Trussler, !imon" The %am#ridge Ill&strated History of British Theatre, Cam#rid e Cni)ersity ?ress, 199>" 0n illustrated )olume that places the period of Look Back in Anger in a #road conte4t of theatre" At also includes pictures of the Royal Court Theatre and productions of

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Look Back in Anger"

0thanason, 0rthur +icholas 59ohn Os#orne,5 in %oncise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Eolume B 4riters After 4orld 4arll, 015260173, 3ale, 199:, pp :D185>" *ar-er, 9ohn" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in Daily E)press, May 9,1956 *illin ton, Michael" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in &ardian, 9une 8,1989 Carter, 0lan" !ohn "s#orne, Oli)er R *oyd, 1969, pp" 18>,:: Co)eney, Michael" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in ,inancial Times, 9une 1D,1989" Elsom, 9ohn" Post64ar British Theatre, Routled e R Oe an ?aul, 19B6, pp" B:88B Elsom, 9ohn" Post64ar British Theatre %riticism, Routled e R Oe an ?aul, 1981, pp" B>88@ ;errar, <arold" !ohn "s#orne, Colum#ia Cni)ersity ?ress, 19BD, pp D81:,>6" <o#son, <arold" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in '&nday Times, May 1D,1956 <ope8$allace, ?hilip" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger m (anchester &ardian, May 1@,1956 Os#orne, 9ohn" Look Back in Anger, ?en uin, 198:" ?a e, Malcolm" ,ile on "s#orne, Methuen, 1988, pp 1181B" ?aton, Maureen" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger m Daily E)press, 9une 8,1989" !hulman, Milton" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in E)enin !tandard, May 9, 1956" !myth, 2arman" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in Independent, 9une 1@,1989" Tynan, Oenneth" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger in "#server, May, 1D,1956" $ilson, Cecil" Re)iew of Look Back in Anger 2aily Mail, May 9,1956"

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