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'Doris is just a moaning old woman.' How does Alan Bennett manage to maintain our sympathy for Doris during this monologue?

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Hannah Woolerton 'Doris is just a moaning old woman.' How does Alan Bennett manage to maintain our sympathy for Doris during this monologue? In play 'A Cream Cracker Under the Settee' Alan Bennett uses many techniques and dramatic devices to make his script seem real, believable, and also enjoyable. I am going to study the statement, 'Doris is just a moaning old woman.' I will then investigate and explore how Bennett manages to maintain our sympathy for the lead protagonist in the script, Doris. I will cover many points such as Doris' relationships, the use of the cameras, lighting, music and other significant techniques he uses to gain his audiences interest and to uphold their sympathy for Doris. Firstly, one of the main things Bennett does that creates sympathy is that he creates a believable and emotional past for Doris. By using this past we can also compare and relate her to real old people, which, because we may know old people in her position, makes us already begin to sympathise with Doris. She is a stereotypical old person. We find out many sad things about Doris the first being that her long term partner, soul-mate and husband Wilfred died quite a few years ago, therefore she is a widow; 'Well he's got a minute now bless him.' We feel sorry for Doris after finding out about Wilfred, however later in the script we are then told about another major tragedy that's happened to Doris in her past, which further adds to our sympathy for her. ...read more.


We already know that Doris has no family left and that's upsetting for an old person, however Doris doesn't even have friends, she is totally alone, 'we were always on our own Wilfred and me. We weren't the gregarious type.' This indicates that Doris is almost excusing their lonely lives, and in a way pretending and trying to convince herself that it was ok, this is very sad. In the past when Doris had Wilfred she didn't see the need to have friends, consequently once he died she was left with no one. Although Doris may have been satisfied with being alone, she now longs for a friend or caller. Doris therefore tried to keep track of her neighbours as it gave her a sense of control and also made her feel comfortable in the knowledge that there were people around her she could call on if she was ever in trouble. But Doris explains that she no longer knows them, as a result there is no one left to help, 'Don't know anybody round here.' Bennett has formed a very lonely and isolated world for Doris and at one part in the script we find out that she is so alone that she even wishes for a leaflet distributor or random caller to talk to she is also in desperate need of help, 'It never is a bona fide caller, I never get a bona fide caller.' ...read more.


Using blackouts means that for one, Doris retains her dignity and two gives the audience a chance to assimilate their thoughts so far. Lastly it's the different shots and camera angles that create sympathy. At important moments when Doris speaks the camera zooms in very close to her face. It does this to show every emotion she is feeling by giving us a chance to explore her facial expressions and movements. We also get a chance to see her age more clearly; we can see every line and wrinkle. Zooming in on her face is very important for an audiences understanding of the play. Again we only get a close up when Doris is either very emotional or when she is talking about something very significant. At one scene in the play Doris is sitting at the bottom of the stairs. She is in an emotional state as she is talking about her son John. The camera shoots from above Doris so that we are looking down on her. This makes Doris look small, helpless and vulnerable and the audience feel very sorry for Doris. The aerial view also cuts to close ups on her face at this point to add variety and so we can see her feelings. The use of camera angles let us see things from different perspectives and makes us consider and think about what Doris is saying. It is each of these things when put together to create the whole dramatic piece that makes the audience feel sympathy for Doris right the way through the play. ...read more.

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