The role of women

Women in the play

Mrs Lintott and Fiona are both in subservient roles to the males:

  • Mrs Lintott, the teacher who got them excellent A level results, is not regarded as good enough to get them into Oxbridge. Bennett makes this secondary role that Mrs Lintott plays quite explicit with her direct address to the audience regarding her lack of inner voice, and her role as a patient sufferer of the men’s preoccupations.
  • Fiona is treated as a sex object.

All male environment

  • This is unnatural and does not reflect the outside world. The boys’ view of life, and history, is completely shaped by this male-dominated world.
  • The boys’ vision of women is entirely sexualised as Dakin’s warfare metaphor for his relationship with Fiona demonstrates. Even the Headmaster chases Fiona around his office.
  • The 'female' characters the boys adopt at various times such as the highly stylised women of the 1940s films and the prostitutes they invent in the French lesson show they know little about women.

The role of women in history

Mrs Lintott points out that they may be interviewed by a female academic – something which seems incredible to her students. She is very perceptive in her analysis of the condescending relationship the men have with her, something which gives her a kinship with Rudge, who is similarly patronised for his working-class status. Both represent groups which are under-represented in the study of history.