The History Boys

The History Boys

In the play ‘The History Boys’ Alan Bennett is known to utilize multiple styles and themes within his work. The play explores common problems among teenage boys, from achieving the needed grades become a student at Oxford to homosexuality. The boys are taught by three teachers who are called Hector, Irwin and Lintott who all employ contrasting teaching techniques. Alan Bennett is known to add conflict between characters, in The History Boy’s case, this is mainly between Hector and Irwin “Irwin: It’s not the plays, it’s the acting of the plays, Shakespeare, anybody.

It’s no fun teaching the stage struck. Hector: And isn’t being stage struck a part of their education? ” this illustrates the fact that Irwin has no interest in drama and offends Hector with his minimal knowledge in the matter. You notice that Irwin is talking about a subject he is weak in, is because of the poor descriptive words he uses as he tries to justify his words, such as “Anybody” and “It’s no fun” which has reason to offend Hector.

Hector counters what Irwin claims with his line after Irwin’s, after this small conflict you are able to distinguish between Hector ability to speak truth and wishes that his students will benefit from his charisma in teaching with Irwin’s knowledge of what’s needed in the students to have a solid chance to earn there place in Oxford, thus confliction between these two characters is formed.

A second conflict is implemented into the play just after Irwin and Hectors first dispute, when this happens you can start to understand why Alan Bennett added a mock interview scene; to purposely cause confliction at a significant stage between these three teachers, the power struggle continues by the quote “Hector: No, you should just say what you enjoy. Posner: Mozart. Irwin: No, no. Everyone likes Mozart.

Somebody more off the beaten track, Tippett, say, or Buckner” this quote holds a lot through its language, for instant, Hector is relaxed with his speech, as commas are placed in areas such as “No, you should just say” which means he is in no rush to push his views to the boys while Irwin is the complete opposite “Somebody more off the beaten track, Tippett, say, or Buckner” with the use of commas, it points out that Irwin is more desperate to get his points across in the situation, a metaphor is used here with the quote “Off the eaten track”. You sympathise more with Hector with this quote, because he is trying to teach his students the core of education and what it is worth to make them unique, while Irwin is smothering the boys with things that he knows the examiners would like to hear.

You see where Irwin and Hector are coming from more clearly with this quote after there second dispute “Hector: May I make a suggestion? Why can they not all just tell the truth? Irwin: It’s worth trying, provided, of course, you can make it seem like you’re telling the truth? this quote emits one of Alan Bennett’s style of writing, when Hector says “May I make a suggestion? ” this blatantly shows that a rhetorical question has been implemented, as Hector continues without Irwin’s permission, Alan Bennett is known commonly to use this in his past work such as ‘Talking Heads’. Irwin continues with the short spaced commas as well, remaining impatient and slightly worried, as the job that the Headmaster as promised him means a lot to his career, so in a sense, he is desperate.

The next key moment is Mrs. Lintott’s speech on sexism, her reasons why are because Woman’s status’ were still not balanced between men’s in the early 1980’s which caused a problem in society. Alan Bennett uses another common style that he writes in, which is irony, this is placed into the fact that Mrs. Lintott is the only woman and also has the smallest role that appears in the play, and her largest speech is coincidently her talking about sexism “Mrs.

Lintott: I’ll tell you why there are no woman historians on TV, it’s because they don’t get carried away for a start, and they don’t come bouncing up to you with every new historical notion they’ve come up with” the speech is her general views of stereotypical men in the early 1980’s but modified around the subject of history as stereotypical men in this era is made to look arrogant and boastful.

‘Downtrodden and Misfortunate’ is one typical theme the Alan Bennett associates within his characters, with Mrs. Lintott and how she is put down because she is a woman; this also brings up the theme of ‘The Role of Women’, and Hector who is being forced out of the school where he teaches because of his sexuality which arises the theme or ‘Homosexuality’. There a symbolism that Mrs. Lintott does not fit into the conflict of Hector and Irwin well, mainly because she is a woman and that her views are about equality where Hectors and Irwin’s are merely opposites. This symbolises in a way that she is the diffuser between Hector and Irwin “Mrs.

Lintott: On a strictly non-gender-orientated basis, I just wonder whether it occurs to any of you how dispiriting it is. ” This quote supports this. The play, as a whole uses very little stage direction, this is accounted for as a style. His reasons for this in his own words were “I have not included many stage directions or even noted changes of scene; the more fluid the action the better” (Which was found in the book), this in a sense can be referred to it being written as a novel; this and the subject of sex, has been found to be used by Bennett in numerous books (Talking heads, The Lady In The Van).

There can be negatives to little stage direction that Alan Bennett uses, where the direction of the play could be interpreted very differently that how Bennett would’ve liked. There’s reason Hector and Irwin conflict in this play, Alan Bennett focus’ on opposites with teaching devices, but goes more in-depth with this by using symbolisms, the characters may conflict, but Alan Bennett implies this in more than one way for them being opposites, for example; Hector is a larger character; the film in 2006 suggests this, and Irwin is thinner.

Hector is older; Irwin is younger which you find out through the plays storyline. Hectors language is more florid and worth “Oh, yes, a degree of presentation” while Irwin’s is more basic “Otherwise they are likely to be the usual, ‘What are your hobbies? ’ type questions”. Hector holds a traditional view while Irwin is more in the modern era. Hector understands the core value of education while Irwin preferably interested in marks and pleasing the headmaster.

All these opposites show that they are naturally meant to conflict each other, thus polarizing arguments that are highlighted by Alan Bennett. In conclusion these four pages Alan Bennett use’s themes from ‘Homosexuality’ to ‘The role of women’ along with the styles of minimal use of stage direction, this is seen in the play as a whole because the play revolves around these issues from the beginning to the end of the play, this is seen with Posner falling for Dakin, Hector eventually being blackmailed into retirement and no conclusion or mention found to Mrs. Lintott’s issue of sexism. Alan Bennett claimed “Too much stage direction prevents the actions and events of the play flow” evidence of little stage description between scenes, allowing a director to interpret the play with much freedom.