THE HISTORY BOYS deals quite heavily
with the issue of growing up. Not only does
the future of the boys hang in the balance
with the entrance exams, but the school’s
reputation lies squarely upon their
shoulders. As Hector and Irwin battle over
educational ideologies, the boys become
aware of how the world works, no longer
simply clinging to route memorization of
facts and quotes. They are forced to step
outside of their childlike innocence and
stake claim to a more critical and cynical
assessment of their surroundings. The play
also takes on the issue of sexual identity, as
the boys deal simultaneously with Hector’s
sexual abuse and the confusion of trying to
find their own identities.
They admire and appreciate him so much that they absolutely ignore, and give no importance at all to, his sexual harassment, which is quite "a new" attitude.
As to the students, Posner (Samuel Barnett) is the most impressed by, and certainly the closest to, Hector. He is the perfect student for him. He loves poetry, learning, and teaching--he will actually become a teacher himself. He loves Hector's way of teaching, his love for performances and staging what they call "film endings". He is the only really concerned student when Hector has an emotional breakdown in the middle of a lesson. The other students are just mere spectators, willing to go through all their other phases in life and get to their final point. They do care but not as much as Posner (Oh, Pos, with your spaniel heart--Scripps) does both for Hector and his "General Studies", the subject he teaches. Everything in this film is ironic, a harsh critique of social and academic rules. Everything is dramatic: growing up, getting through the end of adolescence and starting to grow up in a hostile environment like Oxford and Cambridge. But anyhow, the dramatic view is so ironic and the ironic view is so dramatic that they seem to mix. Daikin's (Dominic Cooper) commentary at Hector's...