Jimmy becomes angry at Alison for allowing Helena to stay with them during hervisit and his rant towards her at the end of the first act is one of his most vicious. This rantmakes clear what Jimmy considers necessary in order to be truly alive. One must suffer ashe did when he watched his father die in order to understand what it truly means to live.When Jimmy tells Alison that he wishes that she could see her child die, it is a moment ofboth dramatic irony and foreshadowing. It is ironic because the audience already knows thatAlison is pregnant. Jimmy’s attack on her foreshadows the death of her child and her futurehardships.Jimmy’s anger is representative of Osborne’s critique of the feminization of societyin the 1950’s. Osborne later wrote that Jimmy’s anger is a manifestation of the subliminalanger felt by a generation of men domesticated by a feminine culture. Jimmy’s anger isOsborne’s attempt to return genuine masculine emotion to cultural life. This is one of thereasons that Osborne’s play received such attention and critical reception, both good andbad. Some critics argued that his attempt was ultimately misogynistic.
SCHOOL OF DISTANCE EDUCATIONMODERN ENGLISH LITERATUREPage 11ACT II, SCENE 1Act II opens two weeks later. Alison is boiling water for tea on a Sunday afternoon.The newspapers are again spread out across the floor of the attic apartment. Alison is onlywearing a slip and as she begins to dress, Helena enters. Helena is described as the sameage and build as Alison, but with a “sense of matriarchal authority”Helena places a bowl of salad on the table. Alison expresses her gratitude for herhelps. Jimmy is in Cliff’s room playing his trumpet very loudly. Alison worries that Mrs.Drury is going to kick them out of the apartment. Helena notes that even his trumpetplaying sounds angry.Helena asks Alison if she is in love with Cliff, and Alison denies it. She tells Helenathe story of their first few months of marriage. Without any money or jobs, they went tolive with Hugh Tanner, a friend of Jimmy’s. Alison and Hugh could tell immediately thatthey didn’t like each other. Hugh was even more angry and insulting than Jimmy andAlison realized that for the first time in her life she was cut off from all the people in herlife. Her mother and father had made her sign over all her money and assets when shemarried Jimmy because they believed him to be “utterly ruthless.” Her brother, Nigel, hadbeen running for Parliament at the time and so didn’t have the time for anyone but hisconstituents.Helena changes the conversation and tells Alison that she must either tell Jimmy thathe is going to be a father or else leave him. Alison points towards the stuffed squirrel andteddy bear in the corner of the room and tells Helena that those animals represent the two ofthem. She tells her about the game they play in which she pretends to be a squirrel and hepretends to be a bear. It was the one way of escaping from everything. Helena warns that