The History Boys

The Headmaster: a Comic Role for an Unlikeable Character College

The headmaster is used by Bennett as a source of comedy in the play. He is used to provide different types of comedic elements; through his hypocritical nature where he strives for his school to do academically well, yet he himself is not academically sound. Despite the fact he has a wife, his actions towards Fiona, his secretary, display his misogynistic idea of women, but also introduce humour through the form of Black comedy. The headmaster’s ridiculous behaviour can be seen as pantomime-like material, however, Bennett drip-feeds us this and so alters the perspective we view it at. The headmaster, also known as Felix, is generally portrayed as a strict headmaster who lives solely by the rule book, is aggressive and impatient but also fails to maintain any form of respect from teachers and students alike. Furthermore his strict, dull character, “Get me scholarships, Irwin…” is harshly juxtaposed by the other characters’ open and enjoyable approach to learning “Bristol welcomes you with open arms.” This allows a striking caricature of a headmaster to be created; lavishly filling the play with even more comedy.

The ethos of the headmaster is similar to what was being introduced in the...

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