Look Back in Anger

Cliff Lewis Character Analysis

A kind man of working class background, and a good friend and roommate to both Jimmy and Alison. He lives with the couple, and helps to keep them together. Cliff is “easy and relaxed, almost to lethargy, with the rather sad, natural intelligence of the self-taught.” He and Alison have an affectionate relationship that borders on a sexual one, but both of them are content with comfortable fondness rather than burning passion. Cliff eventually decides to leave to pursue his own life, rather than staying in Jimmy’s apartment.

Cliff Lewis Quotes in Look Back in Anger

The Look Back in Anger quotes below are all either spoken by Cliff Lewis or refer to Cliff Lewis. 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:
Class and Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Look Back in Anger published in 1982.
Act 1 Quotes

Oh heavens, how I long for a little ordinary human enthusiasm. Just enthusiasm—that’s all. I want to hear a warm, thrilling voice cry out Hallelujah! Hallelujah! I’m alive! I’ve an idea. Why don’t we have a little game? Let’s pretend that we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive.

Related Characters: Jimmy Porter (speaker), Alison Porter, Cliff Lewis
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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I don’t think I’d have the courage to live on my own again—in spite of everything. I’m pretty rough, and pretty ordinary really, and I’d seem worse on my own. And you get fond of people too, worse luck.

Related Characters: Cliff Lewis (speaker)
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Alison: He actually taunted me about my virginity. He was quite angry about it, as if I had deceived him in some strange way. He seemed to think an untouched woman would defile him.
Cliff: I’ve never heard you talking like this about him. He’d be quite pleased.

Related Characters: Alison Porter (speaker), Cliff Lewis (speaker), Jimmy Porter
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

One day, when I’m no longer spending my days running a sweet-stall, I may write a book about us all…and it won’t be recollected in tranquility either, picking daffodils with Auntie Wordsworth. It’ll be recollected in fire, and blood. My blood.

Related Characters: Jimmy Porter (speaker), Alison Porter, Cliff Lewis, Helena Charles
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Where I come from, we’re used to brawling and excitement. Perhaps I even enjoy being in the thick of it. I love these two people very much. And I pity all of us.

Related Characters: Cliff Lewis (speaker), Jimmy Porter, Alison Porter
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

I suppose people of our generation aren’t able to die for good causes any longer. We had all that done for us, in the thirties and the forties, when we were still kids. There aren’t any good, brave causes left.

Related Characters: Jimmy Porter (speaker), Cliff Lewis
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

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Cliff Lewis Character Timeline in Look Back in Anger

The timeline below shows where the character Cliff Lewis appears in Look Back in Anger. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Class and Education Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...top of an old Victorian house. When the curtain rises, we see Jimmy Porter and Cliff Lewis, seated on opposite sides of he stage and reading newspapers. There are others beside... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
...and says, “to be as vehement as he is to be almost non-committal.” He describes Cliff as much more gentle—Jimmy tends to push people away, while Cliff draws them to him.... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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...the Sunday papers are boring, and also that they make him “feel ignorant.” He taunts Cliff for not being smarter, then taunts Alison, asking her if the papers make her feel... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Jimmy decides that he’s hungry, to which Cliff replies that he’ll get fat. Jimmy denies this: “people like me don’t get fat,” he... (full context)
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Cliff reaches up to grab Alison’s hand (she is still at her ironing board beside him).... (full context)
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Letting go of Alison’s hand, Cliff says that he’d been reading a “moving” article by Bishop Bromley, who said that Christians... (full context)
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...him, and asks if he wants tea. He says he doesn’t, and when Alison asks Cliff, Jimmy interrupts and says that Cliff doesn’t want any, either. Then Jimmy asks Alison how... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
...Alison isn’t listening, he says, “casually,” “damn you, damn both of you, damn them all.” Cliff suggests that they go to the movies. Alison says that she can’t, but that Jimmy... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Cliff brings the conversation back to newspapers. Jimmy summarizes another article that he says was written... (full context)
Cliff grins, looks at Alison, and asks what he should do. She says that he should... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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Neither Cliff nor Alison responds to his tirade, even when Jimmy gives Cliff a kick. Jimmy changes... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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...when he was with his old mistress, Madeline, whom he dated when he was eighteen. Cliff remembers Madeline—“was she the one all those years older than you?” Jimmy says that she... (full context)
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Cliff says that he’s sleepy, and doesn’t feel like going to work at the sweet stall... (full context)
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Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...fresh round of insults on Alison’s friends. He walks to center stage and stands behind Cliff. (full context)
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Cliff tries to get Jimmy to back off from the tirade, but Jimmy says that he... (full context)
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Alison continues ironing—this is the only sound in the room. “Cliff stares at the floor.” Jimmy recovers from his tirade by again looking out the window.... (full context)
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Jimmy picks up a dictionary. He tells Cliff that if he’s pronouncing pusillanimous wrong, Alison will probably correct him publicly. He reads the... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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...the radio—Vaughan Williams is playing. Jimmy sits back in his chair to listen. Alison gives Cliff back his ironed trousers. (full context)
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Cliff thanks Alison, and calls her “you beautiful, darling girl.” Then he “puts his arms round... (full context)
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Cliff returns to the newspapers, and Alison to her ironing. After a while, Jimmy snaps at... (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
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...come upstairs. Jimmy says he doesn’t care about Miss Drury, who is “an old robber.” Cliff closes the window. He suggests that they go out for a drink. Jimmy says the... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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Cliff, fooling around, says to Jimmy, “well, shall we dance?” He begins to push Jimmy around... (full context)
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Jimmy and Cliff begin to fight. They fall onto the floor in the center of the stage, near... (full context)
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Cliff brings Alison to an armchair, where she sits. He says he’ll go down to the... (full context)
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Cliff kneels next to Alison and runs the soap gently over her arm. He says she’s... (full context)
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Cliff says that Alison shouldn’t give up, and offers to put a bandage on her arm.... (full context)
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Cliff, his back to Alison, wonders aloud how long he can go on watching the couple... (full context)
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Cliff finishes tying Alison’s bandage, and she gets up to fold the ironing board. Cliff begins... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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Cliff suggests that Alison tell Jimmy now —“after all, he does love you. You don’t need... (full context)
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Alison tells Cliff, to his surprise, that she and Jimmy didn’t sleep together before marrying. Once they were... (full context)
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Alison gets up, holding the folded clothes. She asks Cliff whether he thinks Jimmy is right about “everything.” Cliff responds that he and Jimmy are... (full context)
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Alison asks if she should tell Jimmy about the baby. Cliff puts his arm around her and says that it’ll be all right. He kisses her.... (full context)
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Cliff says he doesn’t know why the hell Alison married Jimmy, and Jimmy asks if the... (full context)
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Cliff says that he thinks Alison is beautiful, and that Jimmy does too, but is “too... (full context)
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Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...to look for one in her handbag. Jimmy, “trying to re-establish himself,” begins to tease Cliff, who is getting “more like a little mouse every day.” Alison says that Cliff is... (full context)
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Alison discovers that she doesn’t have any more cigarettes, and Jimmy yells to Cliff (who is “dragging Jimmy along the floor by his feet”) to go buy some. Cliff... (full context)
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...“the proper time.” Jimmy says there isn’t any proper time, and Alison reminds him that Cliff will be back soon. (full context)
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Jimmy asks what Cliff meant by saying “don’t forget,” when he left the room. Alison says vaguely that it... (full context)
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...all right suddenly.” Then she begins to return to the topic of her pregnancy, but Cliff comes back and interrupts the moment. He says that Miss Drury stopped him before he... (full context)
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Jimmy’s mood has changed. Cliff jokes that Jimmy was supposed to makes some tea, and when he doesn’t respond, asks... (full context)
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As he speaks, Jimmy has been picking through Alison’s handbag. Cliff asks him if that isn’t Alison’s private property, and Jimmy says that it is, but... (full context)
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Jimmy says, ostensibly to Cliff but also partly to himself and Alison, that he has “never known the great pleasure... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...bathroom downstairs. “It is primitive, isn’t it?” Alison says, and Helena agrees. Alison notes that Cliff, at least, takes care of himself. Helena says she hadn’t noticed that, and Alison suggests... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
...told Jimmy that tea is ready. She says that she knocked on the door of Cliff’s room, where Jimmy is playing the trumpet, but that he didn’t answer. Cliff is nowhere... (full context)
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Helena asks if Cliff is in love with Alison. Alison “stops brushing for a moment,” then says that she... (full context)
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Alison confirms that she and Cliff feel some attraction, but says that it’s not a passionate feeling. They’re comfortable with each... (full context)
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Alison continues that her relationship with Cliff is a “fluke.” They get along well because of Cliff’s kind temperament. It was different... (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
...grabs Alison’s arm. She says that Alison must fight, or escape—otherwise, Jimmy will kill her. Cliff enters. He asks if the tea is ready. Alison says it is, and Cliff calls... (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
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...hasn’t any feeling either for music or people,” and sits down at the table with Cliff and Helena. Helena says that’s “rubbish,” and Jimmy says she’s just proved him right. They... (full context)
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Then Jimmy launches into another attack on Alison’s friends, while Cliff and Helena eat their meal and don’t respond. He says that her rich friends “sit... (full context)
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...to give up on her work. It includes the refrain “just pass me the booze.” Cliff agrees that it’s good. Jimmy says that he wrote a poem while at the market... (full context)
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...sits down at the table. Helena says that they are going to church. Jimmy, like Cliff, is “genuinely surprised.” (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
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...Alison to confirm his statement, and asks why she doesn’t come to her mother’s defense. Cliff gets up from the table and tries to stop Jimmy from continuing, but Jimmy pushes... (full context)
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...if she’s going to be swayed by Helena. Her friend, he says, is “a cow.” Cliff says that Jimmy has gone too far, but Helena says that he should go on.... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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...heart is so full, I feel ill—and she wants peace!” Alison puts on her shoes. Cliff moves from the table to an armchair and looks at a paper. Jimmy has regained... (full context)
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...Alison during her pregnancy, and how it’s all due to “these men.” She turns to Cliff, and berates him for sitting there and doing nothing. Cliff agrees: “I just sit here.”... (full context)
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Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...to know anyone in a convent. She says they should get going. Jimmy enters, and Cliff asks if he’s all right. To Alison, Jimmy says that the call was about Hugh’s... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Class and Education Theme Icon
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
The Colonel asks who is looking after the sweet stall, and Alison says that Cliff is. Her father asks if Cliff lives here too, and Alison says yes. The Colonel... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
...to see if she could help. Alison closes her suitcase, and says that she’s ready. Cliff is going to send the rest of her stuff to her, but he hasn’t returned... (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
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...take her suitcase, and Helena says, to Alison’s surprise, that she is staying the night. Cliff enters. Helena says that she must stay, because she has a work appointment the next... (full context)
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Cliff says that Jimmy will return soon, and asks Alison to wait for him. She refuses,... (full context)
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Helena asks Cliff if he would like some tea. He says no, and she says that she’ll make... (full context)
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Helena asks if he’s staying. Cliff says that he’s leaving, in case Jimmy is about to come in from the London... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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...and it is once again a Sunday. Helena’s belongings have replaced Alison’s in the apartment. Cliff and Jimmy sit in armchairs reading the paper, as they did in Act 1. Helena... (full context)
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...bothers Helena, and she says that she likes it. Jimmy summarizes the week’s news for Cliff, which has to do with midnight rituals for the “Coptic Goddess of fertility.” He wonders... (full context)
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Cliff says that he has just read that, and Jimmy says, “I think you’re actually acquiring... (full context)
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...some names for a band they could form together, but dismisses them as “too intellectual.” Cliff begins to brainstorm names, too, and then they fall into a routine, pretending to be... (full context)
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Cliff and Jimmy begin to fight and roll on the floor, and Jimmy begins to gain... (full context)
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Jimmy “flops into his armchair,” and says that Cliff looks like “Marlon Brando” (in A Streetcar Named Desire). Then he remarks that Cliff doesn’t... (full context)
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Cliff goes on to say that the sweet stall suits Jimmy because he is “highly educated,”... (full context)
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Jimmy suggests that Helena find Cliff a rich friend, because that’s what he wants. Cliff says, noncommittally, “Something like that.” Jimmy... (full context)
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Helena enters and hands Cliff his shirt. He thanks her, and she says that he should dry it in his... (full context)
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Jimmy says that Cliff is leaving, and Helena says that he’s already told her. She says she’s sorry he’s... (full context)
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...says that she just has to change her shirt, and Jimmy says that he’ll tell Cliff to get a move on. Then the door opens, and there is Alison, wearing a... (full context)