Look Back in Anger : quotations

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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.


Look Back in Anger” by John Osborne is a ground-breaking play with numerous memorable quotations. Here, we discuss some selected quotes from the play.


Let’s pretend that we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive.

(Jimmy Porter, Act 1)

Explanation: In Act 1, Jimmy Porter accuses his wife Alison of being emotionally distant and noncommittal. He suggests she’s like an empty vessel merely existing in the world rather than truly living. Jimmy believes that experiencing sorrow and pain is part of being real. Jimmy also expresses his frustration and disillusionment with society and working-class hardships in post-World War II Britain.


It’s pretty dreary living in the American Age—unless you’re American of course.

(Jimmy Porter, Act 1)

Explanation: In Act 1, Jimmy Porter expresses his discontent with England’s diminished global influence. He acknowledges that the world has entered what he calls the “American Age,” where the United States has become the dominant superpower after World War II. Jimmy’s lament highlights a sense of national identity crisis and frustration.


Common as dirt, that’s me.

(Cliff Lewis, Act 1)

Explanation: Cliff Lewis tells Alison that he and Jimmy come from working-class roots. They are commoners and experience the world much differently than Alison, as Alison comes from an upper-class family.


If only … something would happen to … wake you out of your beauty sleep!

(Jimmy Porter, Act 1)

Explanation: Class conflicts and Jimmy’s working-class frustration affect the conjugal life of Jimmy Porter and Alison. Jimmy accuses his wife Alison that she knows nothing about suffering, as she comes from an upper-class family. He suggests she could have a baby and it could die so she could experience true suffering.


Poor little silly animals. They were all love, and no brains.

(Alison Porter, Act 2, Scene 1)

Explanation: Alison tells her friend Helena about the toy bear and squirrel. It’s a game Alison and Jimmy have played since their marriage. The Bear and Squirrel Game serves as a metaphor for their relationship. It gives them a way to access a simple affection for each other that they cannot achieve in normal life.

The Bear and Squirrel game is a powerful symbol. When Jimmy and Alison act like animals, whose only concerns are food, shelter, and sex, they can forget societal and class conflicts. They can feel a simpler version of love for each other.


I don’t care if she is going to have a baby.

(Jimmy Porter, Act 2, Scene 2)

Explanation: Jimmy Porter expresses his anger that he doesn’t care if Alison is pregnant or not. After Alison has left Jimmy, Helena Charles informs Jimmy that Alison is going to have a baby. A frustrated Jimmy Porter is angry with everything in this play.


Should I go in for this moral weight lifting and get myself some over-developed muscle?

(Jimmy Porter, Act 3, Scene 1)

Explanation: Jimmy Porter doesn’t like churchgoing. He mocks Helena’s faith and compares churchgoing with the bodybuilding ads in the magazines he reads.


I suppose people of our generation aren’t able to die for good causes any longer.

(Jimmy Porter, Act 3, Scene 1)

Explanation: Jimmy Porter voices his frustration living in a difficult post-World War II English society. Working-class life is hard and there are no job opportunities for the working-class graduates. Jimmy tells Cliff Lewis there are no longer any good causes for people like them to fight for like previous generations had.

Jimmy is also angry with the complacency of the older generations, especially with the upper class. A lack of purpose is the central dilemma in the play.


I want to be a lost cause. I want to be corrupt and futile!

(Alison Porter, Act 3, Scene 2)

Explanation: After losing her baby, Alison Porter returns and tells Jimmy she can understand what is real suffering. Alison wants to share the pain with Jimmy. The ending of the play suggests that to have any depth in relationships, people must be willing to share each other’s pain.