The Failure of a Marriage as a Theme of Look Back in Anger
The Birth of the Angry-Young-Man Movement
In 1956 the critics and the public in England were ready for something new in the field of drama. When, therefore, Osborne’s Look Back in Anger was produced on May 8, 1956, they felt that a dramatist had appeared who could challenge such American playwrights as Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. With this play was born the angry-young-man movement.
Jimmy’s Dissatisfaction with Society
Look Back in Anger was regarded as representing the dissatisfaction with society reflected in the novels of such young writers as John Wain, Kingsley Amis, and John Brain. The rancorous hero of this play, Jimmy Porter, was thought to symbolize the fury of the young post-war generation that felt itself betrayed and ruined by its elders. The older generation had made a thorough mess of things, and there was nothing the new generation could do except find refuge in the occupation of nursing its resentment. Jimmy Porter, a cultural university graduate, supports himself by selling candy at a stall. Thus society is so rotten that there is no longer any point in trying to be useful. Of course, Jimmy is not content to stagnate, but he feels that he has no chance. His withdrawal from society is not one of choice. He feels himself to be unjustly crushed down with no hope of ever getting up. Such was the general interpretation of Osborne’s portrayal of Jimmy. Jimmy’s defeatism was looked upon as a symbol of the numb quiescence of post-war youth. But it is doubtful if Osborne himself intended this when he wrote the play.
Jimmy No Representative of the Young Men of his Time
According to a critic, John Osborne must have been the most surprised man in England when he suddenly found himself placed at the head of the angry-young-man movement. He had written a carefully and intelligently worked-out dramatic study of a psychoticmarriage relationship and was greeted, instead, as the creator of a...