Look Back in Anger

Helena Charles Character Analysis

Alison’s upper class friend, who comes to stay with the couple while acting in a play, and ends up having an affair with Jimmy after Alison leaves him. She is described as having a “sense of matriarchal authority” that “makes most men who meet her anxious.” Helena has a strong code of middle class morals that eventually force her to leave Jimmy.

Helena Charles Quotes in Look Back in Anger

The Look Back in Anger quotes below are all either spoken by Helena Charles or refer to Helena Charles. 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 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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Anyone who’s never watched somebody die is suffering from a pretty bad case of virginity.

Related Characters: Jimmy Porter (speaker), Helena Charles
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Helena Charles Character Timeline in Look Back in Anger

The timeline below shows where the character Helena Charles 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
Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...that Miss Drury stopped him before he could leave the house, and that someone named Helena is on the phone for Alison. Alison thanks him, and leaves to take the call. (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...when he doesn’t respond, asks what the matter is. Jimmy says “that bitch,” referring to Helena. Cliff asks who she is, to which Jimmy replies that she is one of Alison’s... (full context)
Class and Education Theme Icon
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Jimmy asks Alison what Helena wanted. Alison says that Helena is coming over. Helena is working with an acting company... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...crosses to her dressing table and sits down beside it to put on her stockings. Helena enters. (full context)
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Helena is “ the same age as Alison, medium height, carefully and expensively dressed.” She has... (full context)
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Alison asks if Helena “managed all right” with the dinner, and Helena says yes. She’s already cooked a lot... (full context)
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Alison comments that Helena has “settled in so easily somehow,” despite not being “used to” the surroundings. Helena asks... (full context)
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Love and Innocence Theme Icon
Helena asks Alison if Jimmy drinks. Alison, “rather startled,” says that he isn’t an alcoholic. There... (full context)
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Helena asks if Cliff is in love with Alison. Alison “stops brushing for a moment,” then... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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...each other, and don’t want “to bother moving for the sake of some other pleasure.” Helena says it’s hard to believe they’re so lazy, and asks whether Jimmy approves. Alison says,... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Helena asks what they were doing for money at this time, and Alison says that her... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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Helena says that she can’t understand why Alison acted that way—or why she married Jimmy. Alison... (full context)
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Helena brings the conversation back to Hugh. Alison says that her relationship with him only got... (full context)
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Helena asks why Alison hasn’t told Jimmy about the baby, and Alison assures her that it... (full context)
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Helena grabs Alison’s arm. She says that Alison must fight, or escape—otherwise, Jimmy will kill her.... (full context)
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...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 briefly discuss... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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 around…discussing sex... (full context)
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...that he wrote a poem while at the market the day before. He says that Helena will like it—“It’s soaked in the theology of Dante, with a good slosh of Eliot... (full context)
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Helena asks why Jimmy is being so “unpleasant,” “offensive,” and “tiresome.” Jimmy “roars with laughter,” and... (full context)
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Then Jimmy lets fly an attack against Helena, saying that this is a cheap trick to win Alison to her side. He turns... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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...run away and “pledge celibacy.” Yet, he says he “under-estimated her strength.” Hoping to shock Helena, he says that Alison’s mother is as “rough as a night at a Bombay brothel,... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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Jimmy asks Alison if Helena has really won her back. Helena cuts in—“You’ve no right to talk about her mother... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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Jimmy smiles at Alison, who is still at her dressing table, and “hasn’t broken.” Helena is the only one who meets his gaze. She says that she feels “sick with... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Helena decides to try “patient reasonableness,” and says that a little thing like going to church... (full context)
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Jimmy asks why Helena is still around, given that her play has already finished up. Helena says that Alison... (full context)
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Jimmy asks Alison if she’s going to be swayed by Helena. Her friend, he says, is “a cow.” Cliff says that Jimmy has gone too far,... (full context)
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Helena says, calmly, that if Jimmy weren’t so far away, she’d have slapped him. Jimmy asks... (full context)
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Jimmy says that Helena hasn’t answered his question, and she replies that she has never seen anybody die. “Anyone... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
...than you will probably ever know in all your life.” The group sits silently. Then Helena gets up and says that she and Alison should go to church. Alison nods, and... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Love and Innocence Theme Icon
...“His axe-swinging bravado has vanished, and his voice crumples in disabled rage.” He says that Helena is taking Alison away, and his wife is “so bloody feeble” that she’ll allow it... (full context)
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...“I want to stand up in your tears, and splash about in them, and sing.” Helena enters with two prayer books in her arms. Jimmy says that he hopes to someday... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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Helena asks if Alison is ready to leave, and whether she feels all right. Helena says... (full context)
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Love and Innocence Theme Icon
Helena tells Alison that she has sent Colonel Redfern a wire, telling him to come pick... (full context)
Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
Love and Innocence Theme Icon
Alison asks who was on the phone. Helena says it was “Sister somebody.” Alison speculates that it was a hospital, as Jimmy is... (full context)
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...meets her gaze, but Alison turns away and stands. The church bells begin to ring. Helena watches. Finally, Alison crosses to pick up the prayer book. “She wavers, and seems about... (full context)
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Alison and Helena exit. Jimmy “looks about him unbelievingly,” rising to lean against the dresser. The teddy bear... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...a big step, and asks if she’s sure that this is what she wants. Then Helena enters, saying that she came to see if she could help. Alison closes her suitcase,... (full context)
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The Colonel says that they should get going—Alison’s mother will be worried, and she’s ill. Helena says that she hopes the telegram isn’t to blame, and the Colonel says that it... (full context)
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...that Jimmy will return soon, and asks Alison to wait for him. She refuses, and Helena says that she’ll tell Jimmy what has happened, if she’s still there. Cliff says, “quietly,”... (full context)
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Helena asks Cliff if he would like some tea. He says no, and she says that... (full context)
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Helena asks if he’s staying. Cliff says that he’s leaving, in case Jimmy is about to... (full context)
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Helena says that Jimmy should stop being so selfish, and tells him that Alison is going... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Several months have passed, 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... (full context)
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Jimmy asks if his pipe smoke bothers Helena, and she says that she likes it. Jimmy summarizes the week’s news for Cliff, which... (full context)
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...she does this with a hatpin, and that it might have “ruined her bridge game.” Helena suggests that Jimmy should try it himself. Jimmy says that’s a good idea—they could sacrifice... (full context)
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...for them. Then he returns to his joke, and says that they could also drink Helena’s blood, which must be a “pale Cambridge blue.” Then they could invoke the fertility goddess.... (full context)
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...actually acquiring yourself a curiosity, my boy.” He summarizes some gossipy articles about Shakespeare, and Helena laughs. She tells Cliff that she’s gotten more adept at telling when Jimmy is being... (full context)
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Then Jimmy asks if he saw Helena talking to a reverend the other day. She says that it was indeed a reverend,... (full context)
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...men trying to find a man named “nobody.” In the end, it turns out that Helena is to play nobody. Jimmy throws a pillow at her, pretending that it is an... (full context)
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...dirties Cliff’s shirt, and tells him to make some tea. Cliff rises, and appeals to Helena, who says that she’ll wash the dirty shirt. Cliff “hesitates” before giving it to her,... (full context)
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...like “Marlon Brando” (in A Streetcar Named Desire). Then he remarks that Cliff doesn’t like Helena. Cliff reminds him that he once felt the same way. But then says, “quickly,” that... (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... (full context)
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Helena enters and hands Cliff his shirt. He thanks her, and she says that he should... (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 leaving, and Jimmy agrees... (full context)
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Jimmy says that he’ll close the sweet stall, and they’ll leave together. Helena agrees. He says that he’ll make “such love to [her, she’ll] not care about anything... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Disillusionment and Nostalgia Theme Icon
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...opens just a few minutes later. Jimmy is playing his jazz trumpet across the hall. Helena is standing at the table pouring tea. Alison sits in an armchair. She bends to... (full context)
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Suffering and Anger vs. Complacency Theme Icon
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...says that she must be “mad” to show up at the apartment, and apologizes to Helena. Helena says that Alison, of all people, doesn’t need to apologize. Alison protests that it... (full context)
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Helena says that Alison has “more right” to be there than Helena does. Alison protests, “Helena,... (full context)
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Alison says that she regrets coming here, and that she didn’t intend to break up Helena and Jimmy. Helena says that she believes that, but that it makes things seem even... (full context)
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Alison says that Helena wrote that she loved Jimmy, and Helena confirms this. Alison says that she couldn’t believe... (full context)
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Helena says that she has discovered “what is wrong with Jimmy…He was born out of his... (full context)
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Helena says that she sees now that it’s “over” between her and Jimmy. Alison’s presence reminds... (full context)
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Helena says that seeing Alison at the door made everything come clear to her, and that... (full context)
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The trumpet eventually stops, and Helena calls Jimmy to speak with them. Jimmy asks if Alison is still there, and Helena... (full context)
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...replies that it was her first loss. Jimmy looks at her, then looks back at Helena. She crosses to him, and says that it isn’t Alison’s fault. Jimmy asks what she... (full context)
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Helena says that she’ll get Alison a hotel room. Jimmy says that he always knew that... (full context)