But, you see, I was the only one who cared. His family were embarrassed by the whole business.


But, you see, I was the only one who cared. His family were embarrassed by the whole business. Embarrassed and irritated.


These lines have been taken from "Look Back in Anger" by Jon Osborne. This play was first produced in 1956 in London, at the Royal Court Theatre. To say it was a success is to be putting it so mildly as to be meaningless. It was a cultural and social event, in England. The play is painful to read. There is no let-up. The plot is simple: Jimmy is married to Allison, who is pregnant. Jimmy is a strong working-class guy - who cannot get a job. He is frightened. He is in at rage at the unfairness of society. He takes out all of his aggressions onto his wife-it's brutal, man. Though Jimmy's recurring self-concern and self-pity are as evident: here as elsewhere, they do not suffice. to eradicate the impact of his experience on the dramatic situation emerging in the play, Jimmy as an individual character as distinct from Jimmy as an amplifying voice, has personal as well as historical reasons for doubting the value of radical social intervention. The death of Jimmy's father provided an early personal encounter with a widely resisted public recognition of the appalling individual costs involved in national responsibilities or national ambitions of imperial scale. And behind the issue of competing public and personal scales lurk questions both about the value of imperial victories so dearly bought and about the value of less visible achievements more locally situated and enjoyed. If no newly defined England could hope to match the scale of achievement that the efforts of earlier generations had, however advisedly, produced, what could or should serve, instead, to satisfy the youthful aspirations and ambitions of succeeding generations?

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