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Osborne describes Jimmy as "a disconcerting mixture of sincerity and cheerful malice, of tenderness and free-booting cruelty; restless, importunate, full of pride, a combination which alienates the sensitive and insensitive alike." A victim of Post-War disillusionment in the 1950s, he is indeed a bundle of contradictions. Jimmy's restless anger and anguish, his unrelenting tirades and savagely satiric aggressions are surely characteristic of his immaturity and pathetic confusion.
Osborne's protagonist resembles Shakespeare's Hamlet, a man who is so unhappy with the world around, a man for whom "the world is out of joint". He finds his young wife, Alison, so much lacking in "enthusiasm". Alison's mother and her brother Nigel are the most disliked creatures, Jimmy's class-enemies. He teases and quarrels with his friend Cliff for not being responsive to the hard realities of life. Jimmy wants to respond to life, wants to react against all hypocrisies and betrayals, wants to shout and abuse, though he realizes that nothing much is going to happen. He is a rebel for whom suffering and loudmouthed expression of suffering is a way of protest and the only way of being alive. Jimmy opposes the Church, the Press, the Upper-classes most desperately, and his desperation is largely a generational feature of the Post-War youth in England.
Jimmy is immature in the sense he loves to suffer and react with an almost adolescent sentimentality. He demands complete loyalty from his wife. He attacks her so much because he loves her so much. He believes in friendship, but regrets to have lost such great friends like Hugh and Madeline. The boy who saw his father die still lives deep within him. Whenever life seems unbearable, he takes refuge, along with Alison, in the primitive and natural world of the bears and squirrels. Jimmy looks back into the past and feels a strong nostalgia for the England he has never seen. He looks forward into the future to regret and agitate that a better England can never be seen.
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