essays-the entertainer john osborne

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Essays-the entertainer john osborne


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He is unable to protect his son Mick, who is captured and killed while serving in the British military during the Suez Canal crisis. Like the variety show, England itself has experienced a decline. Whereas Britain once ruled the waves and commanded an empire on which the Sun never set, now her influence is limited to a voluntary Commonwealth of independent former colonies and has lost much of her former military dominance and prestige. Archie tends to be a man who takes the path of least resistance while appearing to strive.

Mick gives his life in the service of his country and is accorded a hero's burial, having done his duty much like the retired showman Billy Rice Archie's Father did in World War I, when he survived the Dardanelles without a scratch.

This contrasts strikingly with Archie's behavior. Archie served briefly during World War II, having been sent to Canada where he saw the most moving musical performance of his life. But instead of serving out his enlistment, he deliberately engineered his own discharge from the military by pretending to be homosexual. Much of the bitterness and cruelty in the play comes from the way Archie and some of his children believe that they will never be able to really live or to experience excellence or importance the way Billy did in his day, because the system is stacked against them.

Jean, Archie's daughter by the woman he married prior to Phoebe, struggles against it by attending a rally in Trafalgar Square and by rejecting her upwardly-mobile suitor Graham because she believes he will try to keep her from doing what she wants and from becoming someone important. She is unsure exactly what she wants to do to become significant or how she proposes to do it, yet the fact that Graham is well on his way to achieving his ambitions causes the same kind of resentment Archie has toward his more successful brother Bill.

Frank, Archie's surviving son, takes a more pragmatic approach. Although he may never achieve personal greatness, he doesn't let the system push him around: he served six months in prison for refusing to serve in the military, whereas Mick simply went when he was called. He tells Jean to start looking out for "number one", meaning herself, because nobody else will. Indeed, when Brother Bill provides tickets for Archie, Phoebe, and Frank to move to Canada to avoid the legal consequences of Archie's bankrupt spending, nobody asks Jean whether she wants to come, or offers her a ticket.

Unlike the distinguished Billy who frequently shares stories of his earlier successes but who has been financially reduced to living on a pension due perhaps to his ongoing support of Archie and his family , Archie shares only the most tawdry stories from his past, and they may or may not be true. He brags about his drinking, his romantic excesses, his slick dishonesty in evading his military duty and his taxes, and the way nuns react negatively to him.

But one episode stands apart: an incident when Archie witnessed a musical performance by a woman of African descent that was so powerful and emotional, he wished that he and she could trade places so that he could experience what it was like to deliver such a stunning, perfect emotional release. He wished that he could feel deeply enough to experience the kind of emotion that drove the woman's performance.

To ask other readers questions about The Entertainer , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Entertainer Plays. Sep 29, Andrew rated it it was amazing. Dec 05, Bettie rated it it was ok Shelves: published , play-dramatisation , winter Three family generations symbolize post-war Britain's decline.

Brilliant production, deep worthwhile premise; shame I found it so irritating. Jul 11, Tosh marked it as to-read. I just saw the Tony Richardson film version of this play, and it knocked me sideways. They're almost characters in a play as well. The buildings that still exist are beautiful, but also very soulful and sad. View 1 comment. May 31, Said rated it liked it. Jan 06, Matthew rated it really liked it.

Perhaps they did so too much, and many of the attitudes held by the characters now seem dated and harder for us to reach now. Even the nicest characters in The Entertainer hold views of casual bigotry concerning women, gay people and ethnic minorities that make difficult reading or viewing today.

Not that Archie Rice, the anti-hero of The Entertainer, is really angry about anything. I'm dead, just like the whole inert, shoddy lot out there. It doesn't matter because I don't feel a thing, and neither do they. He is a failing performer who is desperately trying to keep the music hall open, and he is not too scrupulous about how he does it.

He openly boasts about not having paid taxes for 19 years. Archie plans to leave Phoebe for a younger woman, but these plans are scuppered by his father Billy, who informs the other woman that Archie is married.

At the end, Archie is offered the opportunity to escape to Canada by his brother Bill, but he seems to change his mind and decide to stay in England, knowing this will probably lead to his arrest. It would be nice to think that Archie is trying to atone for his actions, but this suggestion is made in his usual flippant manner. He lacks sincerity and redeeming features, and even his frankness towards his daughter Jean does not endear him to her. Perhaps she recognises that his self-honesty is not accompanied by any self-loathing or remorse.

It has been said that The Entertainer is a metaphor for England at the time — a phoney, decaying place that dreams of past glories, and loathes the new values that are replacing the old ones. At root is a resentment of receiving any help from people who they fear are looking down on them. Other values threatening them are the new open-minded attitudes towards gender, sexuality and race, and there are plenty of unpleasant off-the-cuff remarks uttered by just about everyone.

What is unclear is where John Osborne sits in this. A man of avowed left-wing views, Osborne has a similar willingness to mourn for an ideal world of the past that probably never really existed. Archie Rice may be an appalling man in many ways, but Osborne has a sneaking pity for him when this relic of the old stage finally vanishes forever, leaving only the music. This is a family and a way of life that is at the end of its tether, fortified by booze and deceit.

Jean, although part of the family, is the outsider. What gives the play a greater impact are the parallels between the decline of the family, the decline of the music hall and the decline of Great Britain as imperial power. Billy lives in a state of nostalgia for his youth, when all women were ladies and the Empire ruled the waves — he sees the world around him as little more than decline.

Archie peppers his act with patriotic songs that celebrate the Empire and British character. Which military campaign this is is not clarified, but the Suez crisis would have been in the minds of the contemporary audience: symbolically this is when the old power of the British Empire was shown as broken backed. But, in a way, the play makes its point and then just keeps making it — this is a country in decline Archie is desperately trying to revive his career, but failure looms.

This came about because she went to a demonstration in Trafalgar Square for the contemporary audience this would have implied the anti-government demonstrations about the Suez campaign and Graham objected: Graham, like Archie, largely patronizes his partner. Osborne is generally classified as an Angry Young Man, but while there is anger in the play, there is little sense of hope. Jan 30, Steven Voorhees rated it really liked it. John Osborne's plays portray the Angry Young Man -- the embattled, boiling male protagonist wasting everything around him.

A metaphor for late 's Britain tired, spent and in crisis , it's the story Archie Rice, a faded soft shoe song-and-dance man facing hard familial and financial realities. Conceited yet charming, Archie's on-stage and off plight John Osborne's plays portray the Angry Young Man -- the embattled, boiling male protagonist wasting everything around him.

Conceited yet charming, Archie's on-stage and off plights form the play's dramatic structure. His sunny but faux facade's contrasts against his family's dark truths. Archie's "[f]ace [is] held open by a grin and dead behind the eyes. Osborne's characters are miffed and melancholy. Sadly, though, Jimmy hasn't aged gracefully. Jul 08, James Evans rated it it was ok. I was hoping to see it live but John Hurt got I'll and withdrew from the play so I didn't go. Still I had it with me -I tend to read the plays before seeing them- so I read it anyway.

I like theatre a lot although I'm not an actress or a student of any kind of arts. Usually you find something; a character, some lines, the I was hoping to see it live but John Hurt got I'll and withdrew from the play so I didn't go. Usually you find something; a character, some lines, the plot, etc. This was just a regular story that I'll probably forget in a few months time. I trust that the acting is what makes of this play something memorable.

As for reading it, I have to give it two starts because as I said before, although I didn't dislike it, I cannot really compare it with other books and plays I gave 3 stars. Jan 13, Lily rated it really liked it Shelves: british-literature , plays. Here we are, we're alone in the universe, there's no God, it just seems that it all began by something as simple as sunlight striking on a piece of rock.

And here we are. We've only got ourselves. Somehow, we've just got to make a go of it. We've only ourselves. I wish you'd stop yelling, I can't hear myself shout. Don't clap too hard - it's a very old building. I'm dead behind these eyes. It doesn't matter because I don't feel a thing, an Here we are, we're alone in the universe, there's no God, it just seems that it all began by something as simple as sunlight striking on a piece of rock. Sep 02, Ben rated it it was ok Shelves: , theatre.