Represenatition of Women in Osborne's Look Back in Anger

John Osborne’s 1956 play ‘Look Back in Ager’ is considered a watershed in English Theatre. It is widely acknowledged and accepted that it sparked a movement – ‘Angry Young Men’. Yet as the movement sought to address the problems and issues of young men, there did not emerge a similar feminist movement under its influence.   Somehow the issues of submissive and abused young women did not find place in contemporary discourse.   This makes one wonder if the play’s portrayal of women has been responsible for it. The play’s delineation of its women characters, Alison and Helena would appear even to a common reader as placing them in a patriarchal society and surprisingly the status quo is not challenged at all.   Thus a feminist reading of ‘Look Back in Anger’ becomes a rich source for feminists to explore the issues of post – imperial middle class woman. It seems to be in agreement with one of the major goals of Feminism being the exploration of women’s literary texts and exploration of depiction of women in literary texts.

Much of discourse has focused on Jimmy and his post imperial, postmodern condition. Yet Jimmy’s wife, Alison is also a victim of the dilemma of their generation. While Jimmy’s resentment and frustration vents out in his frequent outbursts, which include his physical violence and mental abuse of Alison, her silent trauma goes unnoticed. Jimmy is the angry, discontented man, a graduate from a ‘white tile university’ who couldn’t get ‘suitable’ employment. He laments his lower middle class status, his running a sweet stall and his eventless life where every week he asks himself furiously ‘ Why do I do this every Sunday?’.
Jimmy says that he learnt at an early age, what it was to be angry – ‘to be angry and helpless.’ But the question arises – isn’t Alison also equally helpless or may be even worse. She has enough reasons to be angry, Jimmy’s severe torture of her being one, but being the woman of her generation she is helpless and cant be angry....