Look Back in Anger Patrick Lynskey and Kyle Spielberger
Table of Contents • Plot Explanation • Character Analysis • Significant Quotes • Themes • Symbols • YouTube Clips
Plot Explanation - Act 1 • Set in a one room apartment in the Midlands of England • The home of Jimmy Porter , his wife Alison, and his friend/business partner Cliff Lewis. • The scene opens with Jimmy and Cliff reading papers, and with Jimmy openly complaining about these papers. • Jimmy goes from complaining about the papers to insulting Alison • Cliff flirting with Alison • The two seem to be in some sort of affair, but the reader would soon find out that the flirting doesn’t mean anything.
Plot Explanation - cont. • Jimmy contempt for Alison’s father is shown, and soon afterward his contempt for her entire family is shown. • At this point Alison is barely holding her composure. • Jimmy and Cliff get into a wrestling match, resulting in Jimmy burning Alison’s arm with a ironer. • Alison snaps and sends Jimmy out of the room. • Alison talks to Cliff about how her marriage is falling apart. • Tells him how she is pregnant.
Plot Explanation - Act 2 Scene 1 • Set two weeks after Act 1 • Alison’s friend Helena is introduced into the play, who Jimmy does not like at all. • She asks Alison about the flirtation between her and Cliff. • She says that there's nothing to it at all. • She tells Helena how the marriage of her and Jimmy seemed to not be in her favor. • She makes it seem that it was more of his decision to get married, and she didn’t really have much of a say.
Plot Explanation – cont. • Talk about how she feels completely blamed for Hugh’s leaving, even though Jimmy never told her so. • She later admits that she is still sexually attracted to Jimmy. • Helena tells her to either stand her ground to him or resign to leaving. • Cliff enters, who calls in Jimmy. • Jimmy, Helena, and Alison banter back and forth for a while, to the point where Helena threatens to slap him. • Helena and Alison say they are leaving to go to mass, and shortly after Jimmy gets a call saying that Hugh’s mother had suffered a stroke. • Alison is gentler to him now but does not go with him to see her.
Plot Explanation - Act 2 Scene 2 • Colonel helps Alison to leave Jimmy. • Helena Charles and Cliff help him as well. • Jimmy comes home in midst of them leaving. • He reads Alison’s note that she is pregnant and doesn’t seem to care at all.
Plot Explanation - Act 3 Scene 1 • Helena has now moved in with Jimmy. • Cliff decides finally that he should move out, and tells Jimmy. • Alison shows up • Its obvious that she has had a miscarriage, for she is extremely sick. • Jimmy leaves the room leaving Alison and Helena to talk.
Plot Explanation – Act 3 Scene 2 • Alison and Helena start apologizing to each other about what mistakes they made throughout the situation. • Helena leaves Jimmy so Alison could be with him. • Jimmy gets upset and starts to throw Helena’s things across the room. • When Alison goes to leave, she collapses. • Jimmy is taking care of Alison as the curtains close.
Character Analysis • Helena Charles • Cliff Lewis • Alison Porter • Colonel Redfern • Jimmy Porter
Helena Charles • Complete opposite of Alison, in many ways. • Helena is upper class and self assured while Alison is working class and tired. • She has much more sophistication to her due to the fact that she is not married, unlike Alison. • She seems to be the play’s “Moral compass”, in the sense that she has a strong sense of right and wrong. • This is seen especially in the beginning, and when she decides to leave after she gets caught in the affair with Jimmy.
Cliff Lewis • Cliff represents the sides of the relationship between Alison and Jimmy. • For Alison, he is the affection and tenderness that Jimmy isn’t able to provide. • For Jimmy, he provides masculine friendship and understanding, which Alison isn't capable of showing. • He is the only thing that connects Alison and Jimmy to the real world. • If he didn’t exist the two would have to escape the hardships of life and go into fantasy.
Alison Porter • Married to Jimmy for three years. • Grew up with money and power. • Her father is Colonel Redfern.
Colonel Redfern • Alison’s father. • Retired army officer who served for over 30 years. • Values duty, honor, and loyalty. • Does not approve of Jimmy.
Jimmy Porter • Married to Alison • Hates people who grow up with money. • Abuses Alison because she comes from a rich family. • Lives with Cliff Lewis after Alison leaves him.
Significant Quotes • “People like me don’t get fat. I've tried to tell you before. We just burn everything up.” (12.) • The quote takes a glimpse into Jimmy’s character, and his anger. • The word “burn”, is used in two different cases here; one being the burning of the physical body, and the other meaning to convey destruction. This “destruction” being the quests in his life that are destroying the lives of people around him.
Significant Quotes cont. • "Jimmy went into battle with his axe swinging round his head -- frail, and so full of fire. I had never seen anything like it. The old story of the knight in shining armour -- except that his armour didn't really shine very much.“ (45). • Said by Alison, this quote is an attempt to explain to Helena why she fell in love with Jimmy. • This quote allows the author to explore chivalry, the idea found in old English Literature. • This is used to question whether the concept of Chivalry still exists in the modern world. • While she describes him as a knight, he is described as a Knight with dull armor, and his acts seem to do more harm than good.
Significant Quotes cont.213 • "There are cruel steel traps lying about everywhere, just waiting for rather mad, slightly satanic, and very timid little animals.“ (96). • This is one of the last quotes of the play, where Jimmy and Alison have reverted back to their fantasy world of animals. • This is because Jimmy and Alison are no longer able to face the hardships of life, what Jimmy calls the “pain of being alive.” • The author suggests that with this idea, fiction of the only answer to the cruelties of life.
Significant Quotes Cont. • "If you could have a child, and it would die...if only I could watch you face that.“ • "I suppose people of our generation aren't able to die for good causes any longer. We had all that done for us, in the thirties and the forties, when we were still kids. ...There aren't any good, brave causes left.“ (Colonel Redfern) • "There are cruel steel traps lying about everywhere, just waiting for rather mad, slightly satanic, and very timid little animals."
Themes • Alienation and Loneliness • Anger and Hatred • Apathy and Passivity • Class Conflict • Identity Crisis
Alienation and Loneliness • Jimmy felt the whole play that success and money was meant for the privileged, white children of the Establishment • People born into family connections, and entry to the “right” schools and places. • He constantly attempts to get Alison to lash out at him, which never happens. • Calls her “Lady Pusillanimous”, because he sees her as too cowardly to commit to anything. • Feels anxious that no one is willing to take from him.
Anger and Hatred • Jimmy essentially operates off of anger. • Is directed at those he loves because they refuse to have strong feelings. • Society that did not fulfill promises of opportunity. • At those who smugly assume their places in the social and power structure and who do not care for others.
Apathy and Passitivity • Alison essentially advertises this towards Jimmy for most of the play. • This infuriates Jimmy.
Class Conflict • Jimmy comes from the working class and hates everybody in the upper class • Jimmy hates his family for having to grow up in the working class • The only person Jimmy loves is Hugh’s working class mother • Alison’s mother does not approve of Jimmy because he comes from the working class
Identity Crisis • Jimmy does not know where he belongs • His job does not reflect a job that an educated person should have • Colonel Redfern acts like he still belongs in the army • Helena needs to live by her principles to find out who she really is • Cliff is the only person who knows who he is
YouTube Clips • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP_259Sbrmc
Works Cited • "Pilot Theatre." - Educational Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.