Look back in anger - John Osborne

Look back in anger is a play about disillusion from real life, either marriage or high expectations from society. It is a play about married couple that is tired from living in the world together, which “had and had not” changed so much. The stage of their relation went so far that this couple departed but later found out that only they alone and together can survive and bear such unchanged world and quickly changing society even though bursts of anger appear.

Subject: life of ordinary people – working class, marriage, friendship, changed society versus unchanged society – “You are hurt because everything is changed. Jimmy is hurt because everything is the same. And neither of you can face it.”, Jimmy as a personality – as an example of whole society in one.

Theme. How to solve social and everyday problems generally, and how to cope with problems if society creates pressure on individuals who are then cruel towards their nearest without their intention. Do they have to bear it or not? Jimmy wasn’t able to direct his anger and Alison knew he was good inside.

Setting: attic room, constantly in smoke, city somewhere in northern England

Structure: of the play is divided into three acts of which act II and act III consists of two scenes. Act I and act III, their exposition behave like mirrors.

In exposition of the act I there are introduced Jimmy and Cliff reading papers while talking on different topics and Alison in the background ironing. In the Act III it is vice versa, there are two women talking over papers Helen and Alison and Jimmy is playing trumpet in the background. One of possible effects of this mirroring in acts is to show how women can take men’s places inside the society.

  1. Exposition – Jimmy, Cliff, and Alison are introduced in over smoked attic room. Alison ironing, burned her arm, Jimmy and Cliff talking about different topics from papers they start to argue
  2. Complication – Jimmy starts to provoke Alison and Cliff with his new trousers. Jimmy simply needs to express his opinion and does it in an angry way. When they want to calm him down it is worse.
  3. Crises – Helena comes on scene with Alison’s father, we learn about conflict in society – changed – unchanged. Alison cannot bear state of their marriage and decides to go away with her father to protect her unborn child. Helena stays with Jimmy. She feels he needs someone.
  4. Climax – Helena lives with Jimmy, he learns about Alison’s pregnancy. Alison comes back (she lost the child)
  5. Resolution – Jimmy and Alison find out that squirrel likes bear, that means they will always argue forever (because squirrels and bears are completely different animals) but cannot live one without another.

Characters:

Jimmy – main character, he represents “angry man” dissatisfied with static society. In reality he is young red brick university graduated, has sweet stall business to which he was introduced by Mrs Turner. His behaviour is unbearable but represents, in small, behaviour of the whole nation. Who cannot react quietly and solve everyday problems (He was upset by reading what happened during the week or on the street when someone ran him down.

Alison - his wife, they are married for four years. About the same age as Jimmy (25). She expects baby but doesnt know how to say it to her husband. In reality, she represents opposite pole to him, although she took after him in some habits (talking over papers, smoking)

Helena – a friend of Alison, probably actress. She came to help her but created more complications than was necessary. It seemed to me that she wanted to get rid of Alison to have Jimmy for herself.

Cliff – platonic love of Alison and conjunction of their marriage “This has always been a battlefield” he likes Alison but he is unable to protect her completely against Jimmy’s burst of anger. Why? He is clearly member of men’s society, different from that Alison is coming from.

Colonel – minor character

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