Courseworks

Explore the dramatic impact and importance of Irwin’s third lesson

The location of Irwin’s third lesson is not stated in the play, which allows actors’ flexibility on where they could act it. The scene breaks immediately into Timms asking, “Where do you live, sir?” followed by several other fairly personal questions such as, ” Do you exist on an unhealthy diet of takeaway food, sir, or do you whisk up gourmet meals for one?”. Noticeably the boys are still calling Irwin “Sir” and therefore have not forgotten their place. This has an impact on the reader; the unsophisticated questions allow the reader to take the boys seriously and accept that they are normal and don’t always quote from novels and such. This is significant to the play as a whole because it establishes the boy’s relationship with Irwin. They are testing his limits and his humour. The audience builds their own views of Irwin during this scene.Most of Rudge’s speech is simply ignored because the boys know that he isn’t quite as bright as them. After Irwin’s speech about “Henry VIII” he comments, “an angle. You want us to find an angle”. In a sense Rudge has understood exactly what Irwin is trying to tell the boys. The other boy’s ‘basic thinking’ ability has been halted by all the knowledge they have gathered from Hector’s, “waste of time” lessons, whereas Rudge still possesses this ability. This is significant to the play as a whole because it ironically conveys Rudge as the most intelligent boy because he has understood exactly what Irwin has been telling him. The reader is encouraged to empathize with Rudge because he is denied recognition from the other boys and Irwin.Irwin takes advantage of the boy’s continuous questions to him, and asks one himself. “Why does he lock the door?” “They turn to each other in mock surprise”, “Lock the door? Does he lock the door?” Akthar says. This mocking tone is exactly the same as the way that Hector talks to the Headmaster. This creates dramatic impact because it is showing how the boys are almost part of Hector. The fact that they use the same language as him and could be labelled, boys of “studied eccentricity” supports this fact. The boys clearly have a strong relationship with Hector, because they try to imitate him like a role model. This is significant to the play as a whole because it shows that Hector has had an impact on the way the boys live their lives and how their behaviour has developed. Hector gives them humour and sarcasm; surely this is what Irwin has been trying to encourage the boys to do in their writing.Irwin is intrigued to find out more about Hector’s teaching techniques:”Does he have a programme? Or is it just random?”From the moment Hector and Irwin meet there is clear tension between them. Irwin is perhaps slightly jealous of Hector because he has such a strong relationship between himself and the boys. Irwin is interested in Hector’s ability to persuade the boys to use quotations from poems in their everyday speech. Hector’s teaching is in fact what Irwin is trying to teach, but the boys are reluctant to use their wide knowledge in their written pieces for Irwin because they feel that it is a “betrayal of trust.” This trust issue is similar to the boy’s faithfulness to Hector; not telling anyone about him handling their genitals. They boy’s think of Hector’s lessons as time where they can be more “thoughtful” and express their opinions on various topics, whereas they see Irwin as a teacher who is going to try and get them into Oxbridge. They therefore convey Irwin’s lessons as purely factual because they are so used to learning fact after fact to achieve high grades. Irwin wants them to express their opinions in their essays but the boys cannot understand how or why because it is such a contrast to what they have been taught all their lives. The reader can now appreciate how hard Irwin’s job is, in persuading the boys that their current knowledge is what they should be including in their essays; the only way that they stand a chance of getting into Oxbridge.This discussion fluidly reverts back to the start of the scene with Akthar asking “This isn’t your gap year, is it, sir?” The way the boys effortlessly switch between complicated quotations from multiple poems to simple school boy questions has impact because it shows how intelligent they can be yet not fully mature. The boys know that they are clever, scoring high marks in all their exams. They may be envious of Irwin because he is so young. They may not appreciate that Irwin is as clever if not more than them; their egotistic attitude towards Irwin shows evidence for this. They almost try and get Irwin to think the way that Irwin wants them to think. When the discussion of Auden starts Irwin admits “[they] know more about him than [he does]”. This has impact because it shows how much more mature Irwin is than the boys. There is a possible conflict between the boys and Irwin subconsciously because of the age gap being so close, this could be a reason behind the boys trying to be “little smart-arse[s].” Near the end of the play we discover that Irwin did not attend Oxbridge he attended Bristol. His aggressive tone near the end of the scene could be due to the fact that he can see himself in the boys and wants to ensure that they obtain places at Oxbridge. He perhaps feels that he wasted his schooling days and wants to encourage the boys to steer away from the same route he took.The boys are keen to demonstrate the extent of their knowledge when Irwin demands “How much more stuff [there is] up [their] sleeves”, with Posner and Scripps acting out a scene from ‘Brief Encounter’. This is significant to the play as a whole because it shows that the boys spend a vast amount of time outside school learning lines from movies and poems. It gives the reader a sense of their lives outside of school and helps them appreciate why the boy’s characters may seem slightly strange and eccentric. It also shows the variety of boys in the group. Dakin, the “pretty boy” popular with the ladies; Posner, the ridiculed one, for his love of Dakin. Posner clearly spends more time learning movie lyrics and poems than Dakin does.Irwin is slightly frustrated that the “lesson has been a complete waste of time.” The lesson was similar to one of Hector’s lessons; the boys manipulated Irwin by asking him continuous questions about his personal life whilst baffling him with their knowledge of various media. Dakin goes ahead and compares the lesson to one of Hector’s. Irwin seems almost insulted by this and retorts, “Yes, you little smart-arse, but he’s not trying to get you through an exam.” There is no explanation mark; therefore this line could be portrayed as angry. Perhaps Irwin sees Hector in some of the boys and in annoyed by the fact that they do not seem to have the ability to include their interesting quotes in their essays for him.Irwin also states how Hector is not trying to get the boys through an exam, further expressing his views on how pointless Hector’s lessons are. This is has dramatic impact because it increases the tension between Irwin and Hector. The scene is significant to the play as a whole because it is suggesting that Hector has provided the knowledge that the boys need to pass they exams, but the boys do not realize that this knowledge is exactly what Irwin is trying to encourage them to use. Irwin’s job is made all the more difficult by Hector’s teaching and the trust that the boys have in him.

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