Look Back in Anger : characters

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Look Back in Anger is a notable literary work by John Osborne. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Look Back in Anger.


Jimmy Porter

Jimmy Porter is a 25-year-old educated man. He comes from a working-class background and runs a sweet stall. He is married to Alison Porter.

Jimmy Porter is the central character of the play. He is the “angry young man” here. He is a complex and troubled character who embodies the post-war disillusionment and anger that defined a generation. Jimmy feels trapped in a world he despises, where he believes that the upper classes, represented by his wife’s family, hold all the power and opportunities.

He often takes out his frustration on Alison, with whom he shares a tumultuous and dysfunctional relationship. Jimmy’s emotional abuse and manipulation of Alison are central to the play’s dramatic tension. In “Look Back in Anger,” Jimmy Porter symbolizes the discontent and restlessness that pervaded Britain during the mid-20th century.

Alison Porter

Alison is a young, educated woman stuck in a challenging marriage with a difficult man, Jimmy. She comes from an upper-middle-class background, contrasting with Jimmy’s working-class anger. She is the daughter of Colonel Redfern.

Alison’s passivity and vulnerability stand in contrast to Jimmy’s explosive temperament. Their love-hate relationship showcases the destructive power of unresolved conflicts.

Cliff Lewis

Cliff Lewis is an old friend of Jimmy Porter. He is Welsh and stays with Jimmy and Alison in their apartment. He helps with Jimmy’s sweet stall.

Cliff comes from the same working-class background as Jimmy and shares the same disillusionment with modern England. However, he represents a more traditional and stable aspect of working-class life. Throughout the play, He is a compassionate and supportive friend to Jimmy, even though he struggles to fully understand or relate to Jimmy’s intellectual and emotional turmoil. His role in the play is a foil to Jimmy’s passionate and argumentative character.

Cliff Lewis is fond of Alison. He often serves as a protector or buffer between her and Jimmy.

Helena Charles

Helena Charles is an actress and one of Alison Porter’s old friends. She comes to stay in Jimmy and Alison’s apartment while passing through with a touring show.

Helena knows about Alison’s vulnerable marriage situation with Jimmy. She urges Alison to leave and return to her parents. Though she is offended by Jimmy, she is somewhat fascinated by him. Helena represents middle-class values, highlighting the class and cultural differences in the play.

Minor Characters

Colonel Redfern: Colonel Redfern is Alison’s father. He is a retired military officer who served in India. He despises Jimmy.

Alison’s Mother: Alison’s Mother does not appear in the play. She is only mentioned. She is a protective upper-middle-class lady who had tried in the past to keep Alison from marrying Jimmy Porter. Because of this, Jimmy despises her.

Hugh Tanner: Hugh Tanner is Jimmy’s old friend. Alison does not like Tanner. Hugh Tanner is only mentioned in the play.

Mrs. Tanner: Mrs. Tanner is Hugh Tanner’s mother. She helps Jimmy to start the sweet stall. Mrs. Tanner does not appear on the stage. Jimmy is very fond of her and goes to see her when she dies.

Madeline: Madeline is Jimmy’s old crush, ten years older than him. Madeline does not appear on the stage. Jimmy contrasts her with Alison’s passiveness.

Nigel: Nigel is Alison Porter’s brother. Jimmy criticizes him as a “vague” politician. Nigel does not appear in the play.

Webster: Webster is mentioned in the play as Alison’s friend. Jimmy believes he is gay and so understands the meaning of suffering in life. Webster does not appear in the play.