In Alan Bennett’s “tragi-comic” play ‘The History Boys’ our main comedic protagonist is introduced to us, the audience, as a rather large jovial character simply known as his nickname Hector (his real name is Douglas). In the beginning our jester hector expels exuberance and joy in his work and towards the boys in his class, but, towards the end due to various circumstances, brought on by Hector himself, his attitude within the fabric of the play completely changes to a depressed shell of what he used to be. When knowing this, for one to claim that hector can only be a comic character shows that one obviously does not have a full understanding of the text as a whole. From the start it is clear that Hector and the boys do not have the traditional relationship between student and teacher. During the scenes within his classroom, his lessons don’t up hold to regular teaching etiquette. He and his students go off on wild tangents which sometimes lead them in to off curriculum French lessons ‘Oui la prostitute’
In this scene the boys are role playing a French brothel and Hector allows this even though it has nothing to do with getting the boys in to Oxbridge. As soon as the head master walks in the role play is changed in to field hospital to conceal the pervious absurdity. Having Hector quick change his lesson as abruptly as he did shows the audience that he knows himself that he should not be doing this. Looking at this scene, it gives the audience the impression that Hector is the simply comic figure because of the exuberant atmosphere of his classroom life. During the play Hector uses many forms of comedy within his role. One of the main types he uses is physical comedy: ‘Timms: Wasn't he a nancy, sir?
Hector: Foul, festering, grubby-minded little trollop! Do not use that word! [Hits him on the head with an exercise book]
Timms: But you use it, sir!
Hector: I do, sir, I know, but I am far gone in age and decrepitude. ‘ Hector punished his boys by...
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