Look Back in Anger

by John Osborne

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Describe the relationship between Jimmy and his wife, Alison, in Look Back in Anger.

The relationship between Jimmy and his wife, Alison, in Look Back in Anger can be described as tempestuous. It can also be described as abusive, as Jimmy routinely subjects his wife to verbal abuse, largely arising from the fact that Jimmy appears to have a chip on his shoulder regarding Alison's upper-middle-class background.

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The relationship between Jimmy and Alison is unstable and tempestuous, to put it mildly. Indeed, one could say their marriage is an abusive disaster, with Jimmy verbally lashing out at his wife on a regular basis, offering her little in the way of companionship or support. Even before their marriage, he mocked her for being a virgin before being with him, a prelude to his claims that she is too pampered to have ever truly experienced life with all its hardships, as he has. For her part, Alison tries to take Jimmy's abuse stoically. She ignores him when he mocks and berates her, focusing on her household chores. She eventually leaves him, but she returns after miscarrying their child.

While most modern audiences might find this relationship too toxic to save, Jimmy and Alison seem to find something in one another that neither is willing to give up. Jimmy takes comfort from Alison's presence, and Alison, now changed by the loss of her child, feels she can better understand Jimmy's intense anger and passions. The play ends with them engaging in a childish love game, suggesting that whatever the audience might think, these two characters are dependent upon one another and will likely stick together because of this codependence.

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The relationship between Jimmy and Alison can reasonably be described as fraught. This is largely because of Jimmy's insecurities. His lowly status in British society does not match with his intelligence or level of education, so he regularly takes out his frustrations on Alison.

As someone from a relatively privileged background, Alison forms what for Jimmy is the ideal target for all his pent-up hatred towards a class-conscious society that does people like him no favors. He can't hit back at society, but he can, and does, hit back at Alison as the representative of that society and all it stands for.

Jimmy, then, is what we would now call a domestic abuser. By constantly criticizing Alison and subjecting her to verbal abuse, he's treating his wife with contempt and disrespect, exactly the same way that he believes he's been treated by society. Jimmy further disrespects Alison by cheating on her with her friend Helena. Jimmy's philandering is further proof, if it were needed, of his irredeemable misogyny.

Despite all of this, there does seem to be genuine love in this relationship. It's just that this love tends to be obscured by Jimmy's insecurities and his need for Alison to experience the kind of hurt and emotional pain he has endured throughout his life.

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Look Back in Anger by John Osborne presents the uneven marriage between blue-collar Jimmy and his upper-class wife Alison. Jimmy is hot-tempered and frequently argues with Alison, once even wishing that she would be become pregnant and that the child would die just to hurt her. Alison is pregnant at this time, but has not yet told her husband. Jimmy becomes angry because Alison's friend Helena is coming to visit, then again when Alison and Helena want...

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to go to church. Helena convinces Alison to leave her abusive relationship at the same time Jimmy discovers that his best friend's father is dying. Jimmy forces Alison to make a choice between going to church with Helena and staying with him, but she leaves. Jimmy is unaware until the next day that she has left not only for church, but for good. Helena returns to Jimmy to tell him that Alison is pregnant, but ends up kissing him and becoming close with him. Alison returns when she miscarries to discover Helena and Jimmy's relationship. Jimmy cares little about losing the child. Helena realizes the terrible thing she has done and leaves. Alison fends off Jimmy's anger towards her by insisting that she is finally as broken and miserable as he once wished. Jimmy decides that she is right and treats her lovingly, in a way that was not seen before in the play.

The relationship between these two characters is characterized by an unevenness in their life experiences that cannot be overcome until the end. Jimmy feels that Alison has never experienced the difficulties of life or any tragedy, and Alison is unable to comprehend the reasons for her husband's constant anger. The solution to their difficult marriage is being forced onto more even terms. This is achieved by Alison leaving Jimmy, which makes him realize that he does love her, and then by Alison both losing the baby and seeing her husband's affair with her best friend, which together bring her to a state of anger and misery that Jimmy seemed always to be in. They can finally understand one another's emotions, and the play ends with them playing a silly game, having repaired their marriage through other forms of destruction.

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In Look Back in Anger, Jimmy Porter really loves his wife Alison. He asked her to marry him because she made him forget that the world wasn't worth liking after becoming bitter and disillusioned following his father's six-month struggle with death, during which time Jimmy sat with him and listened to him talk and talk. After their marriage, Jimmy is still chafing inside, and out loud, against the restrictions and limits and absurdities he sees in the English class system.

It is Alison to whom most of Jimmy's vehemence is directed because Alison is from the upper class (her father didn't give his permission for her marriage) and exemplifies the staid, unemotional, priveleged existence that Jimmy finds so repulsive, which is painfully ironic since he does actually love her and the inner comfort she gives him. Jimmy's monomania is to arouse some form of sincere emotion in Alison so that she can be fully alive, fully human. It's as if his personal suffering is so great that he can't recognize the humanity in anyone who isn't likewise torn by personal anguish and angst.

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Describe the relationship between Jimmy and Alison in Look Back in Anger.

The relationship between Jimmy and Alison Porter in Look Back in Anger is highly dysfunctional and abusive. Jimmy is the original "angry young man" of the realist school of British theater known as "kitchen sink drama" and Alison is the primary target of his anger. Although intelligent and well-educated, Jimmy is from a working class background and deeply resents the higher social classes he believes are holding him and society back. This includes Alison, who is from the upper-middle class Redfern family. Jimmy is constantly insulting and excoriating Alison's family and complaining about their treatment of him, complaints which we realize are unjustified when Alsison's father, the affable Colonel Redfern, arrives and treats Jimmy in a perfectly friendly manner.

Alison sacrifices herself and her feelings to Jimmy, constantly attempting to appease his anger. She leaves him briefly, while pregnant, but returns upon losing the baby, telling Jimmy that she will now understand him better because she has suffered loss. Jimmy, meanwhile, has been carrying on an affair with her friend Helena (who had hypocritically advised her to leave him), a matter which seems to occasion him no guilt whatsoever. He has no sympathy for Alison's loss and only takes her back grudgingly. There is every reason to believe that his abuse and selfishness will continue exactly as before.

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