Osborne’s use of language is basically in the realistic tradition. The characters’ speech and rhythms reflect their class and education. Helena is very proper and conventional and so is her speech. Cliff is humble, Colonel Redfern is calm and reflective, Alison is proper and non-judgmental and noncommittal. Jimmy Porter, though, broke with tradition. Working class characters were not new to the English stage, but previously they had been comic figures who were usually inarticulate, or even angry figures who were inarticulate and thus held back by their class and lack of language skills and could thus be pitied. Jimmy is extremely articulate and self-confident. Whatever one thinks of Jimmy, it is not going to be pity. His passion is overwhelming and he has the language to overwhelm others with that passion. His language is not polite, though one suspects it would be a great deal more impolite if theatre censorship had not been in effect when it was written. Jimmy can also be very humorous and even poetic, as when he describes Colonel Redfern as a “sturdy old plant left over from the Edwardian Wilderness.” Indeed, the powerful use of language seems almost to be a second form of structure for the whole play, one that covers various other faults.

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