‘The History Boy’s’ is a play by Alan Bennett. The personas Hector, Irwin and Mrs. Lintott all help the kids plan the exams. The character Hector is not a normal tragic hero but is seen as one. A tragic hero is a identity who most effectively evokes both our pity and horror as he is neither carefully good nor extensively bad but a mixture of both. The tragic result will be more powerful if the hero is of greater than ordinary moral well worth. Such a identity is exhibited as struggling an alteration in bundle of money from pleasure to misery because of his mistaken selection of action, to which is lead by his hamartia. The character of Hectors’ hamartia could be his view of education; being more to mould students into more round human beings instead of just enabling these to pass tests. In tragedy, a tragic hero’s fatal flaw will finally lead to the character types downfall. Within the play, Hectors downfall is caused by his complacency, his sexuality and his view of education, all of which are contributing factors to his tragic demise. Although there are multiple reasons for Hector’s downfall, I believe the main is because of his view of education which in the 1980’s no more appeared relevant.
Hector’s view of education is to make his students more ‘curved human being beings’ and can be summed up in his quotation from A. E. Housman that ‘knowledge is not standard, it is specific, and nothing to do with getting on’. His coaching methods, as detailed by the headmaster, ‘do not follow the prescribed avenue and there is ‘no method that I understand of that enables me to examine the job that he’s doing’. Hector respect exams as the ‘foe of education’ and demonstrates to the children knowledge because of its own sake. His judgment of examinations means he could jeopardise the student’s likelihood of increasing places at Oxbridge. Although Hectors educating methods may be doubtful, the boys research to him. Hectors view of education forces the headmaster to employ a new tutor who’ll make the children appreciate how ‘worthless’ Hectors lessons are. Akthar says ‘It’s just the data, sir. ‘ Timms ‘The pursuit of it because of its own sake, sir. ‘ Posner replies ‘Not useful, sir. Not like your lessons. ‘ The kids start to realise the differing lessons. ‘Your coaching methods. . . has always appeared to me to be selfish, less to do with the interests of the boys than some cockeyed notion you have about culture’. Hectors view of education is seen as ultimately resulting in his downfall as it is the real reason he gets terminated and the males commence to become discontented along with his old-fashioned ways.
In the Thacterite 1980’s, where ‘Education was at circumstances of change and Traditional worth of order and willpower were being evolved by more intensifying methods. The Conservative government of that time period, under the management of Margaret Thatcher, was looking to make a two-tier system where the best institutions academically were rewarded with extra money and the ones with poor results were pressured to improve to be able to survive’. This change in the education encouraged colleges to shoot for higher grades. Hector doesn’t agree with the modern view of education, that ‘education is the reduction of education that can be used as an instrument for your own personal progress’. The headmaster claims ‘We need a strategy, Dorothy. A casino game plan. ‘ The headmaster, a personal aggrandizing character who would like the young boys to excel and go to Oxbridge, realises Hectors methods of teaching, the kids might enable them to attain their full potential. The headmaster enlists the assistance of Oxford informed Irwin, a history teacher who is the antithesis of Hector. The headmaster implies Hector’s coaching methods are dated as Hector has an ‘old fashioned redemptive ability of words’. Irwin’s lessons change the boy’s views on Hector plus they find Irwin’s lessons more useful than Hectors which contain ‘just the knowledge’. The present day view of education conflicts with Hectors antiquated methods. The changing views of education ultimately, but not directly, leads to him getting terminated.
Irwin is the antithesis of Hector and can also be viewed as the antagonist. He has been bought in as part of the headmasters ‘game plan’ to have the kids into Oxbridge. Irwin instructs with an analytical way and stimulates the guys to find ‘an angle’ on history. The difference between hectors obsolete methods and Irwin’s modern procedure is highlighted when Irwin asks the boys what goes on in his lessons ‘Not useful, sir. Not like your lessons. ‘ ‘Breaking breads with the dead, sir. That’s what we do. ‘ Irwin ultimately fails to identify Akthar’s Auden quotation. Irwin also does not understand that through literature, today’s can tell, and learn from the past, which is Hectors view whereas Irwin just classes this as ‘Wider reading’. Irwin, being the antithesis of Hector, his view is ‘Education is not at all something for when they’re old and greyish and seated by the open fire. It’s for the present time. ‘ Irwin’s and Hectors conflicting views are exemplified in the arena in which the holocaust is talked about and whether it should be taught. Irwin remarks ‘It’s a question of build, surely. Tact. ‘ And Hector replies ‘Not tact. Decorum’. Decorum identifies that which is suitable to the object about which a person talks, Hector’s judgment is speaking about the holocaust must be an function of reverence. Alternatively, Irwin’s view of ‘tact’ is to all the feelings which would prevent his point from being made. Irwin view of ‘tact’ encourages the young boys to ‘distance’ themselves, Irwin replies to Posner’s judgment on the holocaust with ‘good point’, Scripps replies to the by stating ‘You keep on saying, ‘Good point. ‘ Not a good point, sir. True. To you the Holocaust is just another topic which we may get a question’. Differing from Hectors view, Irwin considers history as ‘performance’ and ‘entertainment’ as opposed to being ‘a subject of conviction’. Irwin’s view of education is seen as a key point leading to Hectors downfall as his different method of learning brings about the children to realize how ineffective Hectors lessons are as opposed to Irwin’s. In answer a spot Hector makes about the holocaust, Dakin says ‘I do see it, sir. Only I don’t trust it. Not. . . any longer. ‘ Dakin is disentranced. Minus the esteem of the guys and without their popularity of Hectors educating methods, Hectors identity is broken. This will lead to his downfall.
Hector’s homosexuality can be an ongoing theme throughout the play and is seen as an important reason behind his downfall. Although his sexuality can be used as a justification for the headmaster to open fire Hector, is can be directly linked with his death. A tragic hero’s hamartia will finally lead to the hero’s downfall and death. Hector’s appeal to his pupils is seen as his hamartia. Once the headmaster has heard bout Hectors fondling of the boys, he could no longer take the kids on the trunk of his bicycle. In the play, this brings about Irwin driving the bicycle with Hector, the bicycle crashes. The character Posner has theories as to why this happened ‘Irwin acquired never been on the back of the bike before, going across the part he leaned away instead of in therefore unbalanced Hector. ‘. This suggests that his fondling of the young boys was directly associated with his downfall as when it was discovered, Hector was asked to retire early, and because of the fact Irwin rode on the bike as opposed to the children, the cycle crashed which business lead to his loss of life. However, it could be seen that his fondling was only a ‘thing on the side’ and a justification for the headmaster to fire him as it could appear unfair to fire Hector for not agreeing along with his Thacterite educational views.
In conclusion I believe Hector’s take on education was a factor leading to his downfall to some extent but it was also brought on by modern educational thinking and his sexuality. Hector considered A levels as ‘qualifications’ and found exams as the ‘foe of education’. Hector didn’t intend to teach to complete exams but to make the young boys ‘more well rounded people’. This method of teaching does not charm to the headmaster as his teaching methods do not follow the ‘prescribed by doctors path’ and therefore won’t ensure the boys make it into oxford. The present day view of education, just to jus forward exams makes Hectors teaching methods outdated, this is actually the real reason I think Hector was asked to retire early as there is no place for his views nowadays. Hectors sexuality, I believe was a catalyst for his downfall as the fondling of the young boys was just a justification to ask him to stop working early. Overall, I think Hectors view of education led to his downfall, consequently of the modernist view of education. Hectors sexuality, in my own opinion was only a catalyst for his downfall, and this his view on education was the main reason, so when Irwin states by the end of the play “He was a good man but I do not think there is time for his kind of coaching anymore”.