The History Boys

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Rudge Character Analysis

Rudge is a talented athlete from a working-class background. The teachers all underestimate him, and don’t believe that he has much chance of being accepted to Oxford. Rudge surprises them, however, although he gets in partly because his father was once a janitor at the school. Rudge is brusquely honest throughout the play, and several times makes a blunt, insightful comment that cuts to the core of things. He eventually works in construction, helping to build “affordable homes for first-time buyers.”

Rudge Quotes in The History Boys

The The History Boys quotes below are all either spoken by Rudge or refer to Rudge. 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 2 Quotes

How do I define history? It’s just one fucking thing after another.

Related Characters: Rudge (speaker)
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, a student named Rudge has been called before his teachers, including Irwin and Mrs. Lintott, to go through a mock admissions interview. Rudge is asked how he defines history--in response he characterizes it as "one fucking thing after another."

The irony of the scene is that Rudge's answer, while blunt and inappropriate for an Oxford admissions interview, is rather accurate. Bennett seems to think of history as a collection of random, meaningless, and basically unpredictable facts, which have to be twisted and distorted into an essay or a "story." In another sense, the passage suggests the way Bennett sees success and performance. Just as a clever historian (like Irwin) knows how to twist the meaningless of the universe into an entertaining story, an ambitious young student knows how to add polish and smoothness to his character, guaranteeing his admission to Oxford and his success in life. Rudge's response in the passage is refreshing precisely because he doesn't play along with the "game" of university admissions--he calls it like he sees it.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The History Boys quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire History Boys LitChart as a printable PDF.
The history boys.pdf.medium

Rudge Character Timeline in The History Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Rudge appears in The History Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
...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 to the... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
...summer is over, he says, the boys are back to continue with their real education. Rudge asks why Hector is implying that A Levels aren’t education. Hector responds that they’re just... (full context)
History and Truth Theme Icon
Back in the present, the boys discuss the hitting. Rudge says that Hector hits the boys he likes (and that’s not Rudge himself). Dakin says,... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
Then the Headmaster comments that the boys are all smart—except for Rudge. Rudge plans to apply for admission into Christ Church college at Oxford, but the Headmaster... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
...boys, in French, where they would like to work today. The scene proceeds in French. Rudge says he wants to work in a garage, but the other boys protest. Dakin suggests... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
...and says, resigned to defeat, “fuck.” Then the bell goes off. As class is ending, Rudge says to Hector that it’s true that they don’t have much time to prepare for... (full context)
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
...for it, but Dakin says that he means off the motorcycle. Then Dakin says that Rudge is having sex. Rudge replies that he only has sex on Fridays, because he needs... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
...work of art, “there are no other words.” Lockwood agrees, and Irwin is puzzled. Then Rudge cuts in and asks what the upshot of all this is. Irwin says that Rudge... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
...Lockwood pay up. Then they unlock the door, and Hector and the boys exit. Only Rudge stays behind in the classroom to work. (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
Mrs. Lintott enters and sees Rudge. She asks him how the class is getting along with Irwin. Rudge says it makes... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
...declares that, “History nowadays is not a matter of conviction. It’s a performance. It’s entertainment.” Rudge says that he gets it—Irwin wants them to find “an angle.” (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
...knowledge that they do have, like answering a question about Rembrandt with knowledge about Ingres. Rudge asks if Ingres was an “old master,” and this leads Timms to quote a poem.... (full context)
Act 2
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
...in context is on the road towards explaining it away, and forgetting its true gravity. Rudge speaks a French proverb meaning “to understand all is to forgive all,” and Hector is... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
Irwin calls Rudge for a mock interview. Mrs. Lintott asks him how he defines history. He answers, after... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
...for Posner and Dakin. He congratulates Irwin and Mrs. Lintott. Mrs. Lintott reminds him that Rudge didn’t get a place, and the Headmaster says this is a pity. Then Rudge enters.... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
Rudge says that his father was a servant there, and this came up during his interview.... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
Hector enters, cheerful and wearing his motorcycle outfit. Rudge asks him whether they’re still playing the guessing game for money, because he has something.... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
...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 protests to this characterization, saying, “like them... (full context)