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A Critical Study of The History Boys. My personal response to The History Boys by Alan Bennet has been greatly affected by the way in which characters interact with each other.

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Introduction

Your class has been exploring the question, 'What will continue to make The History Boys worthy of critical study?' Your personal response has been challenged by another student. Defend your response through a critical evaluation of The History Boys analysing the construction, content and language of the text. My personal response to The History Boys by Alan Bennet has been greatly affected by the way in which characters interact with each other. The interrelations of the boys within their cohort as well as with their teachers gives meaning to the play. Through these relationships, the play questions the value of education, literature and the meaning of history. The open conclusions reached by the play highlights the subjectivity of the audience and hence makes it worthy of critical study as it draws upon multiple levels of meaning from the characters themselves and the reader. Bennet questions the value of education throughout the play. He provides us with three conflicting and mutually benefiting pedagogies: Hector, Mrs Lintott and Irwin. Hector promotes learning for the sake of knowledge and life, Mrs Lintott teaches the facts while Irwin appears to be more modernistic in approach through his exam orientated methods. ...read more.

Middle

As the text provides three views, it provides multiple meanings with respect to the value of education. Hence The History Boys is worthy of critical study as what is suggests about education and its value is open and dependant on one's experiences and view on life. The value of literature is heavily explored throughout The History Boys. As a bricolage, the play draws meaning from a variety of sources. Hector uses these sources to promote a holistic learning for the boys and hence this shapes meaning. Just as the school is a learning ground for the boys, it is just as much a learning experience for the reader. This is evident in the French scene where the meanings of the actions in the scene are lost in translation. This suggests that learning and literature go hand in hand to an extent, and both are required for an appreciation of knowledge, characteristic of Hector. This further suggests that literature is the embodiment of knowledge, and it is through our understanding and maturity, that this knowledge is imparted on us. This is highlighted through Posner's immature conversation with Irwin, "Mr Hector would have just given me a quotation ... ...read more.

Conclusion

This is evident in Scripps whose narration of Hector's death is like a historical essay, "There are various theories about what happened," further suggesting through his detached tone that one's view of history or an event is subjective and is open for discussion. This is emphasised in Rudge's comment, "History is just one [expletive] thing after another," suggesting his view point while also giving space for the reader's opinion to disagree or agree. Hence The History Boys is worthy of critical study as it openly questions the reader's view on history with relation to their experiences and perceptions. The History Boys is clearly worthy of critical study as it questions the value of education, literature and the meaning of history. Through Bennet's portrayal of school life in a Thatcheristic society, the play further questions the value of education not only for society or for 'the greater good', but individually as well. It is this personal sense of individuality that allows the play to instigate a wide variety of conceptions with regards to one's self actualisation, hence making it suitable for critical study. ?? ?? ?? ?? Faisal Syed Yr 11 English Adv Ms Boyages ...read more.

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