Jimmy Porter is a university graduate living with his wife Allison in squalor. He reviles everything that he sees as governed by hypocrisy. Jimmy runs a sweet stall in a street market and his turbulent relationship with middle-class Allison fluctuates between affection and abuse depending on his mood. Allison’s best friend, actress Helena Charles (Claire Bloom), encourages the downtrodden wife to escape her abusive marriage and leave him. Now left alone, Helena succumbs to Jimmy’s desolation and the two become lovers.