Look Back in Anger
a play by John Osborne, performed in 1964, published in 1965. The central character, Bill Maitland, is a London solicitor suffering a middle-age crisis that threatens to become a mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdown. The play begins with his nightmare, in which he is in court accused of having published an obscenity, namely his life, and continues with confrontations, in the flesh and on the telephone, with his clerks, his mistress, his daughter, his wife, and others. He ends rejected by almost everybody, including himself, awaiting a visit from the Law Society, which is investigating his dubious professional ethics. Though Maitland originally seen by critics largely as an ageing version of Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger, and the play as a critique of Britain in the 1960s, subsequent revival has tended to suggest that its principal merit is Osborne's rich characterization of a protagonist variously actuated by anger, self-pity, self-hatred, and the need for love.