How does the writer criticise the educational system of the 1950’s and how relevant are his concerns in the 21st century? The writer of Unman, Wittering and Zigo, and Giles Cooper criticises the educational system of the 1950’s. The story centres on a new, young, weak and inexperienced teacher called John Ebony although the Head at Chantrey School approves him. Chantrey School is a highly recommended school with a very good reputation as shown by the Head, however, the secrets of reality lie within the school.
The Head is a person who cares more about the reputation and the appearance of the school than the reality of the school itself, and will do anything to stop the reputation of the school being destroyed. However the writer also creates a character called Cary Farthingale who is the exact opposite of the head. Cary Farthingale is a person who does not really care about the appearance of the school and talks about the reality of the school and criticises the Head. The play is a thriller because someone dies in mysterious circumstances and the hero, in this case John, is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.Order now
The structure of the educational system of the 1950’s was the same structure as the army. In the army, people are made to follow orders obediently and do things without thinking and this is the same in the schools in the 1950’s when the children are not allowed to think for themselves. Furthermore the play was set in the time just after a major war called “World War Two”. World War Two saw the rise of the political system of fascism, which was quite new at the time. The army consisted of roles and statuses like privates, corporals and sergeants.
This was like the relationship in Chantrey School between the head, the heads of departments, the teachers, the prefects and the students. The discovery of the former teacher being murdered leads the audience to discover something dark and unpleasant about the nature of the students who murdered their former teacher. The story also examines the way the school is run and how it has influenced what the boys have become. Scene 1 is the opening scene of the story and is the scene where the audience find out the first impressions of the characters.
The Head is introduced as a very confident character who “puts on a very good show” of Chantrey School suggesting to the new teacher John Ebony, who seems very naive and under-confident but want to impress the Head, that the school is outstanding and has no problems and if there are any problems, they can all be sorted out. Cary Farthingale, the arts teacher, is introduced as a cynical character who will give a completely contradictory impression of the school to John Ebony. The writer shows the head as a “salesman” who is trying to promote his goods.
The head advertises the school very well by saying all the good points of the school like “The War Memorial Cloisters, with a plaque for ’39 – ’45”. This shows that Chantrey School “create men” who show bravery by fighting in the major war of World War Two. This was a time when a lot of wars and battles were fought so showing that Chantrey School could provide strong, brave men for the army which would show that it is a very good school. The Head also emphasises more of the schools bravery by saying “Two VC’s we had. That is great school.
” This shows that the school is outstanding for bravery and that this is a great school because the head even says “That is great school. ” The head does not want the reputation of the school to be destroyed, so, whenever John asks about awkward things, which could destroy the reputation of the school, then the head quickly changes the subject. This happens when John asks the head about Pelham “Was he my predecessor? ” The head gives a quick, short closed answer and moves on to a different subject when he says “Er, yes. That brick building is the Master’s block.
Oh yes, you’re married. Are you fixed up with lodgings? ” This is evidence of the head changing the subject because he doesn’t want to talk about the death of Pelham. The Head is supposed to be showing John around the school but instead he shows John the good things about the school building and not the systems. It is not until John asks the head about the students “Is there anything I ought to know about any of them? ” and the head gives an uninformative answer of “I expect you will soon find out everything about all of them. ” The head does not fully answer John’s question.
The head also does not tell John about the behaviour system, the term dates and how to deal with the students who have been labelled as “problem boys”. The writer creates a character called Cary Farthingale, who is the arts teacher at Chantrey School and when introduced by the head, Cary gives a completely contradictory impression of the school to John Ebony, when the head is not around. The character Cary is an exact opposite of the head because Cary speaks of the reality and the criticisms of the school and not the appearance of the school. When John remarks on hearing about Mr Pelham’s death, he says, “What a shocking business.