John Osborne was born in London in 1929 into a lower-middle class family. Initially he worked as a journalist and actor, before becoming a playwright, and he was considered the leading figure of the “Angry Young Men” movement. He wrote “Look back in Anger”, but he also wrote play for the cinema and television, “The Entertainer”, “The Hotel in Amsterdam”, “Luther”, “Inadmissible Evidence”, and two autobiographical volumes, “A better class of person”, and “Almost a Gentleman”.
It is about Jimmy, a university graduate who is frustrated and angered by what surrounds him. The play seemed revolutionary when it came out because of its crude and violent language, realism, criticism of the British establishment, but he wants to give voice to the loss of values of upper class, he accuses the upper class not for corruption, but because it escapes from the painful complexity of living.
The play is divided into three acts, it is set in an anonymous Midland town in the mid- 1950s and it is centred on three young people, Jimmy Porter, an intellectuals of working class who runs a sweet-stall, his wife Alison, a woman of upper class, and Cliff Lewis, Jimmy’s uneducated friend of lower-class. They all live in a flat of one room, one day, following the advice of her friend Helena, Alison left Jimmy without telling him she is pregnant, Jimmy and Helena have a brief relationship and when Alison returns back she has lost the baby and understand the pain of being alive. At the end of the play Jimmy and Alison are seen playing to a game, “bears and squirrels”, like children, because they want to escape from the reality. Look Back in anger is innovative because for the first time the main character is a man of working class
This is the opening scene of the play, Jimmy and Cliff are reading the Sunday newspapers, while Alison is ironing, there is for the first time a domestic atmosphere. Jimmy is an angry man, and he expresses his aggressiveness against his friend Cliff but especially his wife Alison, even if she, to Jimmy’s provocations, pretends to don’t listen, while Cliff is very friendly with her, he defends Alison. Jimmy attacks his wife with sarcasm and irony, for example at the line 9 <<What about you? You’re not a peasant are you?>> at the line 17 he says <<Or does the White Woman’s Burden make it impossible to think?>> or at the line 31 <<she is educated. That’s right, isn’t it?>>, at the line 41 <<She hasn’t had a thought for years! Have you?>>. The target of his dissatisfaction is to give voice to the discrimination of the worker-class, because Alison has upper class origins and he reads newspaper to be instructed like her. In some sentences he feels a victim for example at the line 20 <<Old Porter talks, and everyone turns over and goes to sleep>>, or at line 31 << is educated. That’s right, isn’t it?>>, 56 <<Why on earth I ask I don’t know. I know damned well you haven’t. Why do I spend nine pence on that damned paper every week?>>. He wants to rebel against the monotony, the lack of enthusiasm, indeed he says <<Let’s pretend we’re human being and that we’re actually alive>>, he feels his youth slipping away. His anger is towards everything: Sunday newspapers (line 1-3; 44-47; 55-57); His wife Alison; His friend Cliff (6; 8; 27; 29; 34); women in general (17); his own social class (the last part 79-95), indeed from the last monologue we can see how he is angry against his social class, and upper class personified by Alison’s father, somebody said that people like him, of the low class, couldn’t be patriotic, and attacks Alison’s father, a colonel in India, who is dissatisfied with changes Britain is going through, because British imperialism is dissolving. While Jimmy is dissatisfied because although there was the Welfare state, there is still a difference between working class and upper class.