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Biplob Prodhan
  • 1 month ago
  • 61
“Alison, in Look Back in Anger, has degraded herself through her humiliating reconciliation with her husband, Jimmy.” Explain the statement. [NU. 2008, 2011]
The ending of the play Look Back in Anger has been considered unsatisfactory. Do you agree? [NU. 2014]

Ans. Several critics opine that the ending of Look Back in Anger is most unsatisfactory. The ending is not appropriate because the whole cycle of torture and collapse is repeated. While witnessing or reading the play we feel sorry for Alison who is constantly subjected to Jimmy’s verbal attacks, and we feel relieved and delighted when she leaves him. But we cannot forgive her for her final grovelling return.

Let us examine the final scene of the play (Act III, Scene II). Helena decides to leave Jimmy and when she is gone, Jimmy and Alison become reconciled to each other. Now the question is whether Helena’s sudden decision to leave Jimmy seems improbable especially after the and loving words that the two had exchanged at the end of the preceding scene. Sufficient motivation has not been provided for her decision. It would have been better, for instance, if some kind of mental conflict in Helena had been depicted at some point earlier in the play to prepare us for reversal in her attitude towards Jimmy.

We cannot also accept Alison’s abject surrender to Jimmy. Alison’s grovelling to Jimmy and entreating him in a most abject manner seem to us improbable in an age when women are regarded equal to men in western society. Early in the play when Jimmy and Cliff wrestle with each other and fall down to the floor, Alison is greatly annoyed. Again Jimmy’s constant scolding her and his brutal treatment of her has been depressing her a good deal. Once she tells Cliff that she cannot bear insultation more and that she feels sick. When Cliff advises her to tell Jimmy about her pregnancy, she hesitate because she thinks that Jimmy will suspect her motives at once. Thereafter we find Jimmy criticising her for her passion which he compares to that of a python, for her going to church with Helena and for her indifference to Mrs. Tanner. His criticisms of her family have also been a constant torment to her. Later we find her telling her father that Jimmy married her most probably from motives of revenge. It was in this state of mind that she had left Jimmy. So her return to Jimmy and to fall at his feet seems most illogical and improbable.

Though Jimmy and Alison are happily reunited at the end, the way Alison makes a total surrender to her husband appears to be a humiliation of the status of women in the present century. It has degraded her personality to a great extent. But we must remember that Alison has suffered the greatest misfortune of her life. She has had a miscarriage and lost her baby. Having lost her baby, Alison has been feeling distraught and forlorn. And that is why she pays a visit to Jimmy, subconsciously thinking that she might reach an understanding with him. Besides, we cannot ignore the fact that Alison and Jimmy had really been in love with each other. We also remember, at the time of leaving with her father she left for Jimmy a note writing “I shall always have a deep loving need of you.”

Thus, the ending of the play, th reconciliation between Jimmy and Alison, is perfectly credible and appropriate. Without the reconciliation the play would have ended on a note of despair and we would have a negative view of life. So the happy ending of the play restores our faith in human nature and a ray of hope in the life of the couple in the days to come.

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Biplob Prodhan
Biplob Prodhan Founder & Director EDNOUB Foundation Ednoub Private Program

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