History Boys (random quotes and notes) Essay
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Headmaster: Why are you dressed as a milk man?
– Shows lack of understanding for the boys who are in a working class
Headmaster: There Clever but they lack Crass. Ms. Lintot They know there stuff. But they Lack Flare.
Hector: All Knowledge is useful even if it doesnt serve the slightest need
Hector: Its the hot Ticket
Headmaster: I thought of going. But this was in the 50s. Change was in the air. I was a Geographer. I went to……
Headmaster: Odity- Rudge.
Posner: I’ll Go sir – Hector: Nevermind.
Irwin: Has any one been to Rome, Venince. So why bother
Irwin: I dont know, I wold go to newcastle, save the money and be happy.
Irwin: Whats truth got to do with it.
Ms. Lintot: Cunt Strunct, Compound adjective.
Hector: At least im doing better than felix.
Posner: Although he laughs the laughs on me.
Rudge: What fun must you all have
Dakin: Lititure is about loosers.
Gobits: Pass the parcel thats all sometimes you can do.
Take it feel. Not for me not for you.
Headmaster:This Is no time for poetry
Headmaster: Are you going to tell your wife.
Posner is the only one who attends his lesson after four. Posner is the only one who goes up to mr hector when he is crying.
Dakin: Is that the subjunctive or the
It will pass
Who says I want it to pass
Why dont you all just tell the truth.
Ms. Lintot “History is a commetary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men”
Rudge: Its just one fucking thing after another. If they like me and they take me then theyll take me because im dull and ordinary like everybody else.
Irwin: Dont you ever want to go back? Im not clever enough, im not anything enough really.
Hector: What I didnt want was to turn out boys who would claim In later life to have a deep love of literature.
Has a boy ever made you unhappy? They used to do. See it as an Inoculation, Rather. Briefly painful, but providing immunity for however long it takes. Given the occasional Booster, Another Face, another reminder of the pain, It can last you half a life time. Love. Who could love me? Do they know? They know everthing? Dont touch him. He”ll think your a full.
Dakin: How come theres such a difference between the way you teach and the way you live?
Dakin: Hectors a Joke- Irwin: No, He isn;t, you see?
Dakin, whats the difference between Mr. Hector touching us up on the bike, and your feeling up fiona.
Posmer: Im not happy, but im not unhappy about it.
Skrips: No. Love Apart, It is the only education worth having.
I’d been on playground duty, so I saw him on what must have been his first morning… Here, Scripps takes on the role of a narrator
IRWIN: He was a good man but I do not think there is time for his kind of teaching anymore. SCRIPPS: No. Love apart it is the only kind of education worth having.
Timms seems to suddenly step outside of time and say:
The hitting never hurt. It was a joke. None of us cared. We lapped it up. This sudden switch into the past tense comes as a surprise, and may prompt the audience to wonder whether Timms is addressing them directly, from some future time in which he is looking back at the events being played out.
The intrusion of future knowledge into the linear narrative of the play continues to cast a shadow over events, and becomes darker as the story progresses. At the start of Act 2 for example, we see another flash-forward, this time by ‘about five years’. Irwin is in his wheelchair once more, which tells us that his accident will be soon, and not in the more distant future as we may have first thought, increasing the sense of urgency and inevitability. In this future time, Irwin meets one of the students, identified only, to begin with, as ‘Man’. This label also expresses the passing of time through its contrast to ‘boy’, the term used in the title of the play and throughout to describe the students. This ‘Man’ is Posner, perhaps the most fragile of the boys, who is now in therapy and desperately clinging to his past. He says of university: All the effort went into getting there and then I had nothing left.
While Irwin’s fate is foreshadowed throughout, the fate of Hector comes as a tragic surprise. It is important to consider why it is Mrs Lintott who takes this role of retrospective narrator. Like Scripps, she has been an outsider, describing her separation from the male environment of the play in her metaphor: They kick their particular stone along the street and I watch. given them a deeper perception of time and its patterns.
The total timescale of events described within The History Boys can therefore be seen to encompass about twenty years, but Bennett incorporates a much wider period by showing the historical and literary influences acting upon the characters. The classroom setting allows Bennett to use intertextuality freely to achieve this. This technique involves the reference of other, previously written texts within the play.
Thomas Hardy’s ‘Drummer Hodge’, for example, is used to symbolise the connection between Hector and Posner: Posner: How old was he? Hector: If he was a drummer, he would be a young soldier, younger than you probably. Posner: No. Hardy. Hector: Oh, how old was Hardy? When he wrote this, about sixty. My age, I suppose This prompts a moving discussion about loneliness and isolation. Hector can relate to the loneliness of the poem, being around the same age as Hardy was when he wrote it, and feeling a sense of unfulfilled ambition, of a life not lived. For Posner, a teenager dealing with his homosexuality in a school full of heterosexual boys, the loneliness of Drummer Hodge, a boy not much older than himself, is deeply affecting.
Are seeing a play from the early 21st century, set in the 1980s, using a poem from the 1960s describing 1914.
messages of the play: that we can learn from times beyond our own lives through the literature left scattered through the decades and centuries, in what Hector describes as a game of ‘pass it on’. Rudge’s ironic rendition of ‘It’s a Sin’ by the Pet Shop Boys (1987) also comments on the inevitable presence and role of sexuality and ‘sin’ in education.
The History Boys therefore moves far beyond the initially restrictive time and space in which it is set to bind together influences from across the 20th century and before. This goes some way to explain the title itself; the boys, through their teachers and education, are moving into their future with history having become a fundamental part of their characters, personalities and lives. As the fateful accident is set in motion, Scripps notes: And here, history rattled over the points… To continue this train metaphor, Alan Bennett has not only presented the interchange station of the boys’ transition from school to university, but the long lines of railway that stretch backwards and forwards beyond it.
my education at school was confined to what I needed to pass exams.
The representation of women is seen through the very few female characters in the play. -Bennett presents marriage as a confinement of social experience vs being central to a happy ending. -Both Hectors unexpected wife and the Mrs. Headmaster are absent from stage. -Glimpses of this marrige are represented as unhappy.
-Both wifes help out at the charity shop
-Hector clames that his wife would not be intrested in his fiddling of boys on the pillion – is Dorothy’s surmise that Mrs Hector had ‘sort of known all along’ about her husband and that ‘A husband in a low light, that’s what they want, these supposedly unsuspecting wives, the man’s lukewarm attentions, just what they married them for’. So, far from submissive, Hector’s wife has, arguably, some control in her marriage.
Fionas Relationship with Dakin
– Bennet explores the sexual stereyotype that women are used as objects
rather – This is epitomized by Dakin’s statement that “I’m hoping one of the times might be on the study floor… it’s like the Headmaster says one should have targets”
– Dakin accentuates the relationship between sex and education as he notes the importance of measurable targets in pursuing Fiona. – comic upheaval of youth dominating age which again emphasises Fiona’s role in heightening male dominance.
-Dakin compares sexual advances with Fiona and the advances of the British soldiers in the war. Fiona is depicted as his ‘Western Front’, a territory to be taken, and, more alarming, the enemy, the ‘Hun’; her body is ‘ground’ to be -depicts Fiona’s subservience and reaffirms her character as elevating male sexual accomplishment -degrades women’s role in society to be solely focused around pleasing men.
– She controversially comments on history as being “a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men” – condemns the arrogant Dakin as ‘cunt-struck’.
– She harnesses the derogatory male language of female private parts to derogate men, calling the Headmaster ‘twat’ -‘to go further down the same proscribed path, a condescending cunt’ – Bennett uses the character of Mrs Lintott to display the Headmaster’s idiocy in the first scene in which she appears on stage. He believes the boys need to “Think charm. Think Polish…”. However, Dorothy’s ironic response compares his idea of education to a “sprig of parsley” ,and subversively the Headmaster’s appearance on stage becomes the centre of the audience’s mockery. – however, Dorothy is, like Scripps, given a role as omniscient and perspicacious onlooker and observer of events over time – she satirically comments on society, stating they are “Pillars of a community that no longer has much use for pillars”. – further criticise “masculine ineptitude” as she demonstrates the unfulfilled outcome of the boys’ future as a result of the “masculine” approach to teaching. The comment that Dakin “like[s] money”,ironically denotes the value of an education focused solely on achieving ‘targets’. -self-absorbed behaviour of the male characters
-However, Bennett excludes Mrs Lintott from the educational debate and
presents her without any viewpoint on it -male dominant society that men are always in positions of influence and for a man to be inferior to a woman is inconceivable.
– The headmaster is concerned with superficial ‘targets’,Hector believes“all knowledge is precious…” and Irwin is chiefly concerned with originality and practical uses of it.
Who are the History Boys?
• Dakin – The Stud
• Scripps – The Conscience
• Posner – The Lover/Poet
• Rudge – The Working Lad
• Akhtar – The Ethnic Minority
• Crowther – The Lip
• Timms – The Class Clown
• Lockwood – The Soldier Representations of Class
• Headmaster’s (BA Hull) snobbery: • “They’re clever but they’re crass…Culture they can get from Hector, History they can get from you…” • “They need polish. Edge…I want to see us up there!”
Representations of Teaching Styles • Mr Hector (General Studies): “Life Lessons” • Mrs Dorothy Lintott (History): “Subject teaching” • Mr Irwin (Oxbridge): “Exam boosters” • The Head Master: “Results”
“All knowledge is precious, whether or not it serves the slightest human use” • AE Houseman • “We won’t be examined on that, Sir…happiness” • Question: What is education for?
Teaching Style: Irwin • Modern classroom of glass and plastic, bare walls, functional • “I’d go to Newcastle and be happy” Fox, UK
15. Intertextuality as Commentary • Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter: “Thank you for coming back to me” • Drummer Hodge: Thomas Hardy “A saddish life. Though not unappreciated…Unkissed. Unrejoicing. Unconfessed. Unembraced”
Representation of Gender • “History’s a commentary on… the continuing incapabilities of men…” (Lintott) • “Five centuries of masculine ineptitude” cf “The utter randomness of things” (Lintott) • Question: How are the masculine and feminine represented in The History Boys
18. Schools as sexual sites – Fisher et al • Sites of sexual opportunity, tension and competition • Reinforced by popular culture, peer support • Dominance of heteronormativity • Male environments – homoeroticism of The History Boys
19. Representation of Sexuality 1 • Representation of Male Adult Sexuality: • “The transmission of knowledge is itself an erotic act” (Hector) • “This is a school and it isn’t normal” (The Headmaster) • “A grope is a grope” (Lintott)
20. Representation of Sexuality 2 • Representation of Male Adolescent Awakening: • Dakin’s ‘conquest’ • Scripps’ faith • Posner’s ‘in-love’
21. Representation of Sexuality 3 • Dakin’s proposition of Irwin • Irwin’s response • Question: What do you think of the representation of male (homo)sexuality in The History Boys?
22. Learning Styles • “Mr. Hector’s stuff’s not meant for the exams. It’s to make us more rounded human beings” (Timms) • “We’ve got the most important exam in our lives…We’re just sat here reading literature…” (Lockwood) • “Hector produces results but unpredictable and unquantiﬁable…There’s inspiration, certainly, but how do I quantify that?” (The Headmaster) • “Lying works” (Dakin to Irwin) • “He was a good man. But I don’t think there’s time for his kind of teaching anymore” (Irwin on Hector) • “One of the hardest things for boys to learn is that a teacher is human. One of the hardest things for a teacher to learn is not to try and tell them” (Lintott)
Bennetts presentation of marriage
Analysis of women: shovinism