Osborne is an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic. Most of his writing crackled with his anger. His Look Back in Anger changed the course of British Theater and offered him wide acclaim. This play can be seen as a reaction against the `drawing room' dramas of the period. He was an 'angry young man' who raised his strong voice against the injustices of British society.

Osborne’s real breakthrough came when Look Back in Anger was first staged on 8 May 1956. It blew up the old British theatre. The term “kitchen-sink drama” was coined for this play. Its realistic setting revolutionized the British theatre. This play gave voice to the lower-middle-class. It depicted the disillusionment and rebelliousness of post-war youth in Britain. The suffering hero Jimmy Porter is the representative of this generation.
The play takes place in the Porters' one-room flat, a fairly large attic room. The furniture is simple and rather old: a double bed, dressing table, book shelves, chest of drawers, dining table and three chairs, and two shabby leather arm chairs. The plain, drab setting of the play illustrates the contrast between the idealistic Jimmy and the dull reality of the world surrounding him.
 Look Back in Anger is a well-made play in the tradition of Ibsen, Strindberg, and Tennessee Williams. There is one place and one plot developed over three acts. The basic plot device is ancient: misalliance in marriage compounded by a love triangle. The play takes place in a one-bedroom filthy flat in the Midlands. It opens with Jimmy, Alison and Cliff. Jimmy is a university chap of lower class background. But he is unable to find employment.  He lives with his wife Alison. He is an extremely unusual young man. He spits venom against everything and everybody. He is apparently convinced that for the young generation of today the world is an utterly rotten place. His friend Cliff lives with him and helps Jimmy in running a sweet stall. Jimmy taunts his friends over their acceptance of the world around them. Jimmy spends Act I baiting Alison and Cliff. In Act II, Alison's friend Helena arrives. She persuades Alison to leave Jimmy and then takes her place. In Act III Alison returns and Helena departs leaving the field to Alison.

Alienation and loneliness, anger and hatred, apathy and passivity, class Conflict and identity crisis are the major themes of Look Back in Anger. Jimmy feels alienated from the society. He finds himself meaningless. He is deeply angry because no one seems interested in him. His helplessness produces anger and hatred in him. Jimmy comes from the working class. It is the class system that makes Jimmy's existence meaningless. Due to this system he is suffering from identity crisis.
            Osborne creates his characters thoughtfully. Their speech and rhythms reflect their class and education. Jimmy Porter, Alison Porter, Cliff Lewis, Helena Charles and Colonel Redfernare are major characters of Look Back in Anger. Jimmy Porter is a character of psychological complexity and interest. He dominates the play through the power of his anger and language. Alison has been married to Jimmy for three years. She comes from the upper-middle-class. Cliff is Jimmy's friend and partner in the sweet stall and shares the Porters' flat. Helena is Alison's friend. She seduces Jimmy. At last she realizes that her affair with Jimmy is wrong and decides to leave. Colonel Redfern, Alison's father, is a retired army officer. His values are those of duty, honor, and loyalty to one's country and one's class.
Osborne is appreciated for his use of setting, imagery and language. His setting is fantastic, his imagery is evocative and his language is aligned with realism. His language is a very powerful weapon of articulation. In short, Osborne is an outstanding anti-conventional dramatist who attracted the widest attention during the middle of the twentieth century. His Look Back in Anger has been recognized as a bombshell. In short, it is the one- man play par- excellence.   


Popular Posts

The Bangle Sellers by Sarojini Naidu: Multiple Choice Questions with Answers


The Daffodils by William Wordsworth: Multiple Choice Questions with Answers