The History Boys

Sexuality in The History Boys College

The complex exploration of homosexual relations that break the boundaries between pupils and teachers should be typically identified as scandalous, and as a form of paedophilia in a school. However, Alan Bennett presents the issue at a modest grammar school in Sheffield in a radically different manner. For Bennett's characters in The History Boys, such contact seems to be merely a normal aspect of school life.

Hector’s character is constructed to be that of a “humane generalist” as depicted by John Sunderland for The Guardian, shown in Hector's worldly knowledge of the literature that he regards with compassion. His irreverence is equivalent to his passionate and almost religious faith in the power of literature as something that “is precious whether or not it serves the slightest humane uses”. However, the complexity of Hector’s nature is revealed in the juxtaposition of his passion for literature and his grotesque form. The construction of his character is depicted in his physical appearance as “a school master of fifty or so”, old enough to be labelled as ‘perverted’ for groping the boys. Additionally, the way in which he conducts his “general studies” lessons in such an informal and familiar fashion presents bawdiness,...

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