History Boys

Topics: Alan Bennett, The History Boys, Richard Griffiths Pages: 4 (1478 words) Published: November 30, 2011
What strategies does Alan Bennett use to create sympathy for the characters in the History Boys? To what extent is he successful?

Alan Bennett is a playwright acclaimed for his controversial plays such as “Beyond the Fringe” and “The Madness of George III”. The most famous of these is “The History Boys” winner of a Tony Award for Best Play in 2006. It is set in the 1980s in a traditional secondary school in working class Sheffield. Education, in this case A levels, is the overall focus of the play however as we look deeper in to the meanings of the play, we find a great deal of sympathy is evoked from all the characters involved.

With the character of Hector Alan Bennett manages to evoke a certain sense of sympathy and without it Hector would be seen in a very different light. Bennett’s use of sympathy permits him to get away with much more risqué topics, however these events may be seen as being a lot worse in today’s over protective society. The relationship that Hector has built up with the boys is to an extent that they are almost friends not pupils. This relationship resembles that of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato and his student Socrates. This makes the inappropriate teaching techniques which Hector employs seem almost like friendly banter. Bennett uses humour as a shield against Hectors unusual behaviour for example the use of the motorbike to carry out his strange and paedophilic acts. The example of this is the groping of the boys genitals. A lot of the bad actions in this case the “fiddling” are not dwelled upon and are quickly skimmed over. This enables the subject not to be on the forefront of the audiences mind. The actions also heard about but never seen and combined, both these factors make the subject a lot more light hearted. Hector works well with the boys and they find his unique teaching styles effective, they find his lessons very enjoyable and different to main stream teaching. An example of this is when he is talking to Mrs...
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