What is a feminist perspective or reading for "Look Back in Anger"?

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Though John Osborne's play represented a new level of realism, occurring during the same period as Tennessee Williams's and Arthur Miller's work in the U.S., much of Look Back in Anger can be seen as presenting a sexist viewpoint that's probably only partly intended as ironic. Jimmy is...

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Though John Osborne's play represented a new level of realism, occurring during the same period as Tennessee Williams's and Arthur Miller's work in the U.S., much of Look Back in Anger can be seen as presenting a sexist viewpoint that's probably only partly intended as ironic. Jimmy is abusive to both his wife Alison and her friend Helena. That he gets away with this behavior is due to the social norms of the time, but it's also mixed with class resentment. Jimmy's rebellion against the middle class and against the establishment as a whole seems to be directed chiefly against women. He's been to university but chooses to make his living running a market stall, and at home he takes out his frustrations on his wife, in effect blaming her for supposedly being the embodiment of the middle-class values he hates. It's a case of displaced aggression.

Though he is obviously attracted to her friend Helena, he takes it out on her as well, obnoxiously blaring his trumpet while she's staying at their flat. It not only seems the height of his callousness to have an affair with his wife's best friend; it's also another stage in his rebellion, in the playing out of his anger. But it also shows his contempt for women. Osborne can be criticized for showing Jimmy as a kind of "hero" (or anti-hero) in spite of his abusiveness and misogyny. Most of us today would feel little if any sympathy for a character such as Jimmy. But one can also read the play as showing that both women in the story, in being treated this way by Jimmy, are victims of the same class system against which he rebels. Depending—as in all drama—on acting and direction, Look Back in Anger can be seen as a powerful feminist statement.

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When regarding a text from a feminist perspective one must consider the following things:

1. Does the text depict equality on the social level?

2. Is an attempt made to validate the nature of the woman, the essence of makes a woman a woman as distinguished from the nature of a man?

3. Do religious undertones, or overtones, accept women as being equal to that of men?

4. Is the woman depicted in the text seen as an equal by the other characters and the reader alike?

Any text could be looked at from a feminist perspective. What this means is the reader is looking to see if any women portrayed in the text are treated as equally as the men, their roles are just as important as a man's, and if the nature of the woman validated.

In regards to the play "Look Back in Anger", as with any text, one could find examples which would would show how the text has definable moments where sexism is rabid.

One of the most prominent depictions of the belittling of a woman happens when Jimmy tells Alison that the only way she could be a human would be to suffer. Here, Jimmy does not recognize Alison's nature of being a woman and states that she is not even a human being. Here, Jimmy has taken away Alison's identity of even being a person. Many times throughout the text, Jimmy lashes out at Alison for his inability to recognize her nature as a woman.

According to eNotes' themes section on the play, the theme of sexism is based upon the fact that Jimmy is " a misogamist and Alison a mere cipher struggling to view the world through Jimmy's eyes."

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