Theme

Alienation

Alienation is an important theme in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Jimmy Porter, the main character of the play, typifies the overeducated, underemployed worker. He lives in an attic flat with his wife, Alison, and his business partner, Cliff Lewis, with whom he runs a candy stall in an outdoor market. It is 1956, Britain has lost its soul (according to Jimmy), and they are living in an "American age" that has left men like Jimmy Porter behind. He feels alienated from the Establishment, the upper-crust of British society, which has shut him out of the most lucrative jobs because of his class. He graduated from a "white-tile" university, one of the newer and least prestigious universities in Great Britain, so his education, as good as it ended up being, doesn't mean much to the British Establishment. He also feels alienated from his wife, Alison, whose father is a colonel and whose brother is now a member of Parliament. He regularly berates Alison, characterizing himself as the only thinking person in the household. He has even given her a nickname: Lady Pusillanimous. This nickname emphasizes both Jimmy's intelligence (via his vocabulary) and Alison's timid nature. It also suggests that at least part of Jimmy's alienation stems from his behavior, not his socioeconomic status, and that he might have an easier time connecting with people if he treated them with respect.

Anger

Jimmy Porter's anger dominates the play. This theme is pervasive, affecting the plot, the characters, and the tone of the entire play. In the first act, Jimmy's anger causes him to lash out at his wife and his business partner, Cliff, calling them boring, stupid, and unambitious, in large part because they don't share his rage and frustration. Like many working-class men, Jimmy feels overlooked by the Establishment, shut out by polite society, and relegated to menial jobs where he is underutilized and underpaid....

(The entire section is 775 words.)

Look Back in Anger Themes

Alienation and Loneliness
Jimmy Porter spoke for a large segment of the British population in 1956 when he ranted about his...

(The entire section is 925 words.)