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Biplob Prodhan
  • 1 month ago
  • 37
What is anti-hero? Is Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger an anti-hero? Substantiate your answer with reference to the text. [DU. 2001]
Ans. An anti-hero is the central character, or protagonist who lacks traditional heroic qualities and virtues such as idealism, courage, and steadfastness. An anti-hero may be comic, antisocial, inept, or even pathetic, while retaining the sympathy of the reader. Anti-heroes are typically in conflict with a world they cannot control or whose values they reject. An anti-hero is presented as a ridiculous character and the plot of the play follows what happens to the hero, and is determined by the hero’s characteristics and choices as well as by circumstances.Look Back in Anger is a genuine drama about real events and people, but there are certain enigmas regarding both the hero himself and the validity of his anger which is central to the action in the play.

Jimmy porter is an anti-hero because he lacks traditional heroic qualities and virtues. Obviously he is not an ideal character. He suffers, is frustrated, and makes terribly wrong choices-as the last scene makes clear, even for those who imagine that his blasphemy (it consists in his expressing the hope that Alison will have a baby, and that it will die) against life is a mere expression of the author’s sense of values. In the very first stage-direction, the author uses such expression about Jimmy as his apparent honesty, “to the point of vulgarity,” “almost non-committal.” These expressions naturally give rise to certain doubts in our minds about Jimmy.

Furthermore, from Jimmy’s first appearance his anger is no less ambiguous than he himself. Anger can be a virtue and it can be a dangerous vice also. A moralist will say that anger is good when it is selfless, compassionate and allied to positive action, and that it is evil when it is selfish and tainted with frustration, malice, and the desire to destroy.

We see that Jimmy lacks self-control and the result is that his ideals suffers a set back. His genuine affection for Cliff and love for Alison are at the mercy of his anger rather than directing it as they should. His trumpet can mock the universe but not sound a call to battle. He becomes an emotional liability to those whom he seeks to inspire.

To sum up, in consideration of the discussion, above, Jimmy Porter is not a traditional hero. He is not the epitome of the angry young men of his generation. He is rather a very exceptional individual, a tortured soul, at war with itself and with the world, an impotent soul which, like Hamlet, finds the time out of joint, but has not the capacity to set it right.

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