The History Boys

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Dakin Character Analysis

Dakin is charming, manipulative, self-confident, and handsome. This makes him popular at school, and at least three of the male characters in the play are sexually attracted to him (Posner, Hector, and Irwin). Dakin has a sexual relationship with Fiona, the Headmaster’s secretary, and he also seduces Irwin (though they never go through with their plans to have sex). Dakin is also intelligent and often argumentative. Of the boys, he is the most drawn to Irwin’s way of turning historical questions on their head. Dakin is accepted to Oxford on a partial scholarship. After his schooling, he becomes a highly paid tax lawyer.

Dakin Quotes in The History Boys

The The History Boys quotes below are all either spoken by Dakin or refer to Dakin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of The History Boys published in 2006.
Act 1 Quotes

Dakin’s navel, I remember, was small and hard like an unripe blackberry. Posner’s navel was softer and more like that of the eponymous orange. Posner envied Dakin his navel and all the rest of him. That this envy might amount to love does not yet occur to Posner, as to date it has only caused him misery and dissatisfaction.

Related Characters: Scripps (speaker), Posner, Dakin
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Posner one of the narrators of the play, is gay, which makes his life intensely difficult at school. Posner, his classmates assume, is just immature--he doesn't talk about having sex with women because he's so inexperienced. In actuality, Posner doesn't participate in sexual conversations with his friends because he's attracted to his friends  (mostly Dakin), not to women. And even Posner, we're told by his best friend, Scripps, isn't totally aware of his own sexuality at this point in the play: homosexuality is so foreign to his tiny town of Sheffield that he has no way of understanding his own feelings for Dakin, and instead sees them as jealousy rather than attraction.

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DAKIN: The more you read, though, the more you see that literature is actually about losers.
SCRIPPS: No.
DAKIN: It’s consolation. All literature is consolation.

Related Characters: Dakin (speaker), Scripps (speaker)
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, two students, Dakin and Scripps, give their interpretations of the arts, suggesting the diverging paths their intellectual development has taken. Dakin sees literature as a kind of medicine, designed to make people feel better when they're sad or lonely. Scrips seems to think of the arts as more universal and nuanced.

Dakin and Scripps's diverging interpretations of the arts says a lot about their personalities. Dakin is popular and charismatic--by suggesting that literature is about losers, he suggests that he himself doesn't need literature as much as the other "history boys"; he's so popular and well-liked that Eliot and Yeats don't apply to him. Scripps, a more lonely, introspective boy, thinks of art as something that helps everyone--whether you're charismatic or not, art can make your life better.

Act 2 Quotes

I didn’t teach you and Wittgenstein didn’t screw it out of his very guts in order for you to turn it into a dinky formula.

Related Characters: Hector (speaker), Dakin
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Hector has a moving conversation with his student, Dakin. In the past, Hector taught his students a famous quote from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (like Hector, a lonely schoolteacher, probably homosexual): "whereof we cannot speak, we must pass over in silence." Dakin repeats the Wittgenstein quote here, and tells Hector that he'll use it on his university admissions exams. Hector is furious that Dakin is using Hector's lessons for such practical, materialistic aims. Hector accuses Dakin of reducing the complexity and majesty of Wittgenstein to a mere sound-bite--in applying to university, Dakin has lost all respect for philosophy.

In short, the passage shows that Dakin is beginning to gravitate toward Irwin's philosophy of education--the philosophy that sees art and culture as ways of "flavoring" a university essay to win some extra points. Hector is disgusted with such a reductive way of thinking about culture--and doubly disgusted that his own pupils are "betraying" him by agreeing with Irwin.

Why are you so bold in argument and talking but when it actually comes to the point, when it’s something that’s actually happening, I mean now, you’re so fucking careful?

Related Characters: Dakin (speaker), Irwin
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

In this uncomfortable scene, Dakin discovers the truth about Irwin. Irwin has implied that he went to study at Oxford as an undergraduate, when in reality, he just got his teaching diploma there. Irwin is visibly uncomfortable knowing that Dakin has found out his secret, and made further uncomfortable when Dakin propositions Irwin for sex. Dakin teases Irwin for his nervousness--Irwin has always been proud and reckless in his arguing, but in real life, he's extremely timid.

The passage reinforces the limits of Irwin's philosophy of education. Irwin emphasizes the importance of boldness and outward appearance. Yet beneath the surface--both in Irwin's style of argument and his lifestyle--there's not much depth or strength. Irwin pretends to be a successful Oxford man, but his success is a facade that Dakin eventually sees through. In the end, then, Irwin--both as a character and as a teacher--is no more attractive or successful than Hector.

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Dakin Character Timeline in The History Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Dakin appears in The History Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
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...in their last year of school before applying to universities—enter as well. They are Posner, Dakin, Scripps, Rudge, Lockwood, Akthar, Timms, and Crowther. They remove Hector’s motorcycling gear and show it... (full context)
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...them, and that they could report him. Hector joins in on the joke, feigning despair. Dakin says that Hector should treat them with respect, now that all eight boys are up... (full context)
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Dakin notes, “you’re hitting us again, sir.” Hector says that “whatever I do in this room... (full context)
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...hitting. Rudge says that Hector hits the boys he likes (and that’s not Rudge himself). Dakin says, “happily,” that he’s “black and blue.” Scripps speaks an aside to the audience, saying... (full context)
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...French. Rudge says he wants to work in a garage, but the other boys protest. Dakin suggests “une maison de passe.” Hector understands, but the other boys ask what that means.... (full context)
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...and says that he must continue in French. The Headmaster asks, in halting French, why Dakin has his pants off. The boys are paralyzed. Hector asks them to explain what’s going... (full context)
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...one responds. He says that he’s sure he can give someone a lift, and asks Dakin if he’s on “pillion duty” (a pillion is the second seat on a motorcycle). Dakin... (full context)
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...Irwin’s classroom, where he is passing back essays. He says that they are all “dull.” Dakin protests that he “got all the points,” and Irwin says that his essay isn’t wrong,... (full context)
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...Christ” were preserved, but people said that one church in Rome had the true specimen. Dakin says that Irwin shouldn’t think they’ll be shocked by this mention of foreskins. Crowther agrees:... (full context)
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...should cheat. Irwin says, “possibly,” and then the bell rings. As he leaves, Irwin tells Dakin that there isn’t time for joking around. (full context)
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After the class, Timms calls Irwin a “wanker.” Dakin says that all teachers have to “show you they’re still in the game” by talking... (full context)
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...their bodies” than they would expect. Scripps then adds his own narration. He says that “Dakin’s navel…was small and hard like an unripe blackberry,” while Posner’s is softer, more like an... (full context)
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Dakin says that he sometimes wishes Hector would “just go for it.” Scripps says that Hector... (full context)
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...good at storytelling. Her ex-husband, for example, told a lot of stories. Hector muses that Dakin is “a good-looking boy, though somehow sad.” Mrs. Lintott says, “you always think they’re sad.”... (full context)
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Irwin says that poetry can “add flavor” to an essay. Dakin likens this to the foreskins, and Irwin ignores him. Irwin suggests that they look to... (full context)
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...at issue in an examination than thirst at a wine-tasting or fashion at a striptease.” Dakin asks if he really believes that, or if he’s just trying to provoke them to... (full context)
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Still in the classroom, Scripps and Dakin discuss Fiona. Dakin uses a metaphor of World War I to explain his sexual conquests.... (full context)
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Dakin then says that he’s beginning to like Irwin more, though Irwin still doesn’t like him.... (full context)
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...classroom. Timms asks Irwin where he lives, and he gives a vague response. Akthar and Dakin press him, wondering if he has a life outside of teaching. Irwin changes the subject... (full context)
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...is “just a hiccup between the end of university and the beginning of life,” and Dakin asks whether Irwin likes the poet Auden. He says that Hector does, and so they... (full context)
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...Encounter. Irwin recognizes it, and says that the lesson has been a “waste of time.” Dakin says that this is just like Hector’s lessons. Irwin says that’s true, “but he’s not... (full context)
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...tells Irwin that he thinks he is homosexual, and that he is in love with Dakin. Irwin tells Mrs. Lintott that he “sympathized, though not so much as to suggest I... (full context)
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...pass, but he knows he wants to get into Cambridge. He believes this might make Dakin love him—or it might make him care less. Then he gives this assessment of his... (full context)
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Irwin asks why Posner came to him about Dakin, and not to Hector. Posner says that he wanted “advice” and not a quote from... (full context)
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The scene changes. Dakin asks Scripps what he does to practice his religion, and Scripps says that he prays... (full context)
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Dakin says that this is a good line of argument for Cambridge interviews. Scripps says he... (full context)
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...and that Irwin should forgive him if he oversteps. Changing the subject, she asks whether Dakin is the best student, and Irwin says he’s the “canniest.” Mrs. Lintott says he’s the... (full context)
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...Hector sits at his desk wearing his motorcycle clothes, and Posner enters. Hector asks if Dakin is coming too, and Posner says he’s busy going over old exam questions with Irwin.... (full context)
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...nothing happens. Hector asks Posner to speak the last stanza again, and Posner does. Then Dakin enters wearing a helmet. Hector asks why he’s wearing that, and Dakin responds that it’s... (full context)
Act 2
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Then the Man says that the piece doesn’t mention anything about Irwin and Dakin. Irwin says that nothing happened with Dakin, and the Man says he doesn’t believe that.... (full context)
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...calls the class’s attention, and says that he has something to tell them. Akthar and Dakin cut him off, saying that they know: Hector is now going to share his lesson... (full context)
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...they don’t know what to do. Scripps is closest to Hector, and he motions to Dakin that Hector is crying. Neither boy moves to comfort him. Eventually, Posner comes up and... (full context)
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...what he was crying about. Timms, trying to bring things back to normal, says that Dakin and Scripps have a scene from a film for him. Hector says that’s good, as... (full context)
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...asks them for ideas, and when Hector encourages them to respond and not to “sulk,” Dakin says that they’re not sure how to act, because they act differently in Irwin’s and... (full context)
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...is so far beyond their life experience that they must remain silent on the topic. Dakin counters that this answer could apply to many different topics. Hector agrees, earnestly. Dakin then... (full context)
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...Hector objects, saying, “Posner is not making a point. He is speaking from the heart.” Dakin says that this doesn’t matter. He turns to Irwin, and reminds him of his idea... (full context)
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Scripps objects to the word “proportion” and Dakin calls it “context.” Posner says that putting something in context is on the road towards... (full context)
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...says that it’s time for him to go, and Irwin asks where, but Scripps and Dakin enter, so Hector says that he just means he has to go home. He exits. (full context)
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Dakin tells Irwin that he and Scripps were just discussing whether Irwin is disingenuous—insincere—or meretricious—falsely attractive.... (full context)
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Scripps teases Dakin for flirting with Irwin. Dakin says that he wants to impress Irwin in a way... (full context)
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In a new scene, Irwin is passing back essays. Dakin boasts that he’s getting the hang of Irwin’s expectations—“it’s like a game”—but it turns out... (full context)
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Scripps begins to ask Dakin about having sex with Fiona, and Posner asks whether Dakin is ever worried about not... (full context)
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...them might be a woman. She says she doubts they have considered this. She catches Dakin yawning as she speaks. Timms says that this line of conversation is embarrassing to the... (full context)
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Dakin and Irwin are left on stage. Dakin asks how Irwin did at Oxford, and he... (full context)
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Dakin asks Irwin how history happens, then fills in the answer: people “make moves.” Irwin responds... (full context)
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...tells Irwin that the discussion will be about his “marching orders,” and Irwin says that Dakin has already told him. Hector asks if Irwin knows why he has been asked to... (full context)
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...for philosophy but is nearer to indifference.” Hector cautions Irwin not to “touch him” (implying Dakin). He says it will make the boys think Irwin is a “fool,” as they now... (full context)
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In a narration to the audience, Scripps, Dakin, and Posner describe their visits to Oxford and Cambridge. Scripps says that he took communion... (full context)
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...of them have received places at Oxford and Cambridge, with special honors for Posner and Dakin. He congratulates Irwin and Mrs. Lintott. Mrs. Lintott reminds him that Rudge didn’t get a... (full context)
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In a new scene Dakin and Irwin are alone together. Dakin tells Irwin that he looked up his name at... (full context)
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Irwin says that he can’t tonight. Dakin suggests tomorrow. Irwin can’t. Dakin says that the drink is a euphemism, and that he’s... (full context)
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Irwin protests that Dakin has already had to endure Hector’s gropings, but Dakin says that Hector is “a joke”... (full context)
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Dakin tells Scripps that he made Irwin this offer as a way of saying thank you.... (full context)
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The Headmaster enters and sees Dakin in the motorcycle helmet. He immediately protests, and then Irwin walks in. Scripps says, “and... (full context)
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...narrating from his wheelchair. He says that he doesn’t remember anything after his conversation with Dakin. He says that they never got their drink. Dakin, narrating, says that he “couldn’t face... (full context)
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...no longer has much use for pillars.” Timms runs a dry-cleaning business and does drugs. Dakin is a highly paid tax lawyer. Rudge is a builder of “handy homes.” Rudge himself... (full context)