Look Back in Anger

by John Osborne

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Explain the "Angry Young Man Movement" in "Look Back in Anger."

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Sure!  After World War II, there was a new phrase that appeared that was originally coined by Leslie Allen Paul:  "angry young men."  Basically, these were English men (usually of the working classes) who wrote for a living; however, their writing had quite a few common traits:  anger, protest, and rebellion of some sort.

Usually disillusioned with British society, Jimmy of Look Back in Anger by John Osborne fits the description of an "angry young man" perfectly.  In fact, anger is the main theme, of course.  Jimmy is continually described as being both "helpless" and "angry."  Jimmy always blames his friends and his society for his own failures.  He feels that, due to his college education, he should have more going for him, but Jimmy doesn't and blames it on everyone but himself.

You see I learnt at an early age what it was to be angry - angry and helpless. And I can never forget it. I knew more about - love... betrayal... and death, when I was ten years old than you will probably ever know in your life.

As a result of his own failures, Jimmy is angry as he sells inexpensive candy at the market.  Another way that Jimmy fits into the "angry young man" category is his hatred of Alison's relatives.  Alison, of course, has upper-class roots.  Anyone in the "angry young man" movement, due to their low social class, would be "required" to dislike anyone of upper-class heritage.

In conclusion, it's important to note that it is class conflict that defines the "Angry Young Man" movement.  Jimmy helps exemplify that movement, therefore, the story Look Back in Anger by John Osborne fits the bill perfectly.

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The movement referred to as the "Angry Young Men" was an important part of the British literary scene immediately following World War II, and generally refers to playwrights and fiction; it overlaps with two poetic movements known as "The Movement" and "The Group."

The "Angries", as they were sometimes called, were often from lower middle class or working class families, and often through the medium of grammar schools had managed to attain places in universities which were dominated by social elites. The works of this movement are often characterized by class conflict, with the protagonists no longer fitting in with the environment from which they originated but also not being accepted by the middle and upper classes where they fit educationally. On a literary level, these post-war writers tended to avoid the high modernism and internationalism of the first half of the century and the apocalyptic and dramatic tone of the war poets, and instead write technically conservative realistic portraits of characters experiencing some form of displacement in social class.

Look Back in Anger by John Osborne fits all these generic characteristics, in terms of bother literary technique and theme, especially the protagonist, Jimmy, who is too educated, clever, and creative to be happy with working in a shop, but cannot find work suited to his abilities.

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Illustrate how Look Back In Anger was a pioneering venture in introducing the "Angry Young Man."

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difficult not to see Osborne's work as a pioneering venture in bringing thecharacterization of "the Angry Young Man" to a wider audience.  When it was first seen on stage, critics might have vented their own anger towards the work, but few could deny that Jimmy was the embodiment of the "angry young man" that was present throughout England.  The drama showed the realistic state of being where resentment at the Status Quo and frustration percolated with every breath in such a stark manner.  This became one of the reasons why the critics understood how drama would become so associated with the "Angry Young Man" archetype:

I agree that Look Back in Anger is likely to remain a minority taste. What matters, however, is the size of the minority. I estimate it at roughly 6,733,000, which is the number of people in this country between the ages of twenty and thirty. And this figure will doubtless be swelled by refugees from other age-groups who are curious to know precisely what the contemporary young pup is thinking and feeling.

The drama was instrumental in bringing this archetype from the subterranean into the open.  

People were forced to recognize Jimmy was representative of a chunk of the world that they inhabited.  He could not be seen as an anomaly or something that failed to exist. Jimmy's condition of anger became an experience that many recognized either existed in their lives or in their world:  "You see, I learnt at an early age what it was to be angry—angry and helpless. And I can never forget it.'' The condition of helplessness and anger, frustration at being told that power exists when it actually is absent, is where the drama is where it reveals the archetype in the most illuminating of terms. Osborne's work has to be seen as a pioneering venture because of this.  It does not relent in seeking to capture what reality is, depicting it in a manner that force one to look at what is there.  

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