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GCSE: Alan Bennet
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Cream Cracker - Explain in detail, and by frequent reference to the text, the devices used by Alan Bennett to make the action on stage varied and interesting.3 star(s)
However as time passed religion began to lose its influence and so society began to change. Bennett uses his past experiences to portray the current life of the elderly, showing a contrast to how it used to be in the 'good old days'. The play is basically about an elderly woman named Doris, who is living alone, on trial, constantly living in the fear of being forced to live in Stafford house. Minutes in to the play, and we learn that Doris suffers from a cleaning disorder that has, and is going to get her into trouble: "'let the dirt wait, it won't kill you'" She talks about her deceased husband Wilfred and her housekeeper Zulema
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Such as, gradually revealing information and by changing the personality of Irene rather dramatically. He also does this by introducing other characters through reported speech and by implementing a humour element to lighten up a serious matter. The dramatic monologue form suits Irene. This is because it gives her an opportunity to voice her opinions, where normally she doesn't have this as it appears she is isolated with little or no social networks. Irene has had lots of different professions and services to help support her with her difficulties. These have been Social Services, medical professions and members of the church however this hasn't worked for Irene because these people were offering services not a form of friendship to Irene; they got paid to deliver a service.
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In A Lady of Letters how does Alan Bennett sustain the audiences interest in a play with only one character?
This is because the monologue allows that audience to almost eavesdrop in the protagonist's thoughts as they subconsciously reveal what others think of them. As this happens subconsciously, the truth is always presented as the protagonist does not alter the conversations or situations they have experienced. This adds to the humour as Miss Ruddock herself does not realise her own character traits as she does not fathom others' opinions of her. For example, when the police come to question her about the malicious letters she writes, she says: 'What letters?
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If a man was or seemed a little odd, he would be harassed and attacked by anti-paedophile mobs. Alan Bennett wanted to get the message across that paedophiles are not necessarily freaks of nature or obviously strange people. He wanted the public to realise that paedophiles could be most ordinary people, they could be a friendly neighbour or even a family member, as Wilfred was in the play. Showing the kindest of humans, who have performed monstrous, unforgivable actions! The play begins with Wilfred telling us about his normal everyday life. He first explains how he spends his dinnertime going to the local paper shop to buy liquorice allsorts and the conversations he has with the friendly shop owner, who tells him; 'I wish I was like you.
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By having these two different ways of speaking we realise that her surroundings had an impact on her personality and characteristics as the Miss Ruddock in the house and the Miss Ruddock in prison is the same person, however their personality and tone of voice are very different. Whereas most people would be sad, dull and be deprived of freedom in prison for Miss Ruddock it is the other way round Bennett illustrates this by adding in a line where she is talking of her freedom in prison, 'Prison!
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Despite the absence of the person, this technique can be used very cleverly. By just using a description, you can still get to know a lot about the character and also gives the audience more questions to ask than before, bringing much more interest and variety to the monologue. Irene Ruddock is a lonely, middle aged woman, and this brief description alone makes her ideally suited to the monologue form of play. The idea of monologues is to get the audience to appreciate people who they usually don't care about. People who are overlooked and ignored in today's society.
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The plain setting reflects her dull life and the bare walls suggest depression as well as isolation from society. Pathos is conveyed well in the opening because even so soon in the monologue we learn of Irene's family situation. Irene has "One cousin in Canada", so she is isolated from family relations. As Irene does not mention the name of the one cousin or specify any personal details about them we can assume that Irene does not know them well or have a relationship with them. We pity Irene as she is obviously alone and isolated from the company of family and we soon learn: friends.
- Word count: 1976
At times, Doris imitates particular phrases Zulema has told her, and gives her own thoughts on how Zulema acts towards Doris. This gives an insight into how Doris will not retaliate to Zulema face-to-face, as she knows she could easily be sent to Stafford House as a consequence. This is expressed in the following quote "I am the only person standing between you and Stafford House". The quote can easily be interpreted as a threat, which I believe how Doris takes the statement.
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The play is a monologue, a monologue is an acting technique in which a single character voices out their thought without interruption. In a monologue although the character opinion is voiced, it can be biased and hard for the audience to keep interest. Alan Bennet chose a monologue for the play so he could provide a voice for the elderly Doris the main character in the play who is in her 70s and is lonely and isolated from the modern world resents on how society has lost its value.
- Word count: 522
It is like Zulema is in control of Doris and is making all decisions for her. Zulema says, "You can't run anywhere. Your on trial here." Zulema should be on trial because she's working at the house but actually Doris feels like a child. Also Zulema has more power than Doris. It is like Doris has to give in to her commands. I think this because Doris says like a child "Yes Zulema." Zulema has told Doris not to dust but Doris does. We can tell because in the stage the directions it says "She shoves the duster down the side of the chair."
- Word count: 900
During the monologues you only hear about Doris' side to every story, so in cream cracker we don't get Zulema's view on things. If we did get her view the sympathy the audience feels towards Doris would probably be different so by just including Doris' points of view Alan Bennett has been clever as to create the right attitude towards Doris. We see Doris as a moaning bitter character; this is portrayed as she feels that Zulema is constantly bossing her around.
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When Gunther said that the character Travis would do it, Lesley immediately agreed with him instead of being suspicious. Lesley does not have moments where she can see the reality of her life, where she is a failed actress, who thinks she is a much bigger star than she is. Alan Bennett uses many techniques to make Lesley seem real. He reveals Lesley seem as a typical person and this lets the audience relate to her. Throughout, Lesley repeatedly mentions the words; 'I am a professional'. She does not know the right significance of the word of professionalism seeing as Lesley is very gullible and likes the way her ego gets massaged by all the men during the filming sessions.
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A cream cracker under the setee- by Alan Bennett (How does Alan Bennett make us feel sorry for Doris?)
Doris doesn't want to hear about her situation and doesn't like to be contradicted. When Zulema argues that Doris has a pacemaker and dizzy spells therefore is on trial. Doris replies with, "Yes, Zulema." In this incident Doris speaks to Zulema as if she is a teacher. It is almost as if Zulema is blackmailing Doris into keeping away from the Ewbank. If Doris even attempts to hover she will be sent to Stafford house according to Zulema. Zulema is very much in charge of their 'relationship'.
- Word count: 2637
In this essay I am going to be writing about how Alan Bennett makes the audience feel sympathy for Doris. One reason the audience feels sympathy for Doris is because she is lonely. Doris says "I don't know anyone around here," then starts to talk about how her old friends moved out the neighbourhood and new people, who she doesn't know move in. Alan Bennett makes the audience feel sympathy for Doris because she doesn't know anyone who lives around her and has no remaining family so she doesn't get a lot of visitors and is lonely in her house.
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In her current production, for release in Germany, she is playing the part of Travis, the wife of a man who is involved in organised crime. This role is probably quite a major one by her standards, as we learn that in the final scene she becomes quite an important character, killing her husband after finding out that he is involved with the illegal trade of drugs. The fact that Lesley plays any sort of instrumental role in the film is quite a step up for her, as earlier on she talks about taking the extremely small and unimportant background roles on many productions, despite making out that her character played a very significant role in the film.
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Her sense of humour is probably best displayed during the closing sequence when she replies to a newspaper offer, the women is asking Marjory if she would need any assistance with her styling and tells her she 'could arrange for someone to come round and give' her a 'shampoo and set', Marjory replies with - 'Yes, I could arrange for someone to come round and give you a kick up the arse'. Bennett then develops this and brings you back to Marjory's thoughts and adds a humorous remark to follow Marjory's discourtesy - 'Though come to think of it, I couldn't actually', these small remarks reveal Bennett's true comic genius.
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How does the audience respond to Miss Ruddock in Alan Bennett(TM)s A Lady of Letters? What are Alan Bennett(TM)s messages about society?
She says "nobody comes in to sit" without speaking to them to find out what is happening. So then writes them a letter so she knows that they know how she feels about it. I think that she would definitely irritate the audience as she has this constant urge or need to write letters to people saying what she felt and thought about things. The audience feels pity for Miss Ruddock for a number of reasons. Her mother died so she doesn't have any family apart from a cousin in Canada.
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Monologues are mainly one side of the story, so in cream cracker we don't get Zulema's view on things. If we did get her view it probably wouldn't evoke sympathy for Doris. So Bennett has been clever just to include Doris's points of view as this will evoke more sympathy. We see Doris as a moaning bitter character; this is portrayed as she feels that Zulema is constantly bossing her around. "I was glad when she`d gone, dictating." The word dictating conveys the impression that Doris is inferior to Zulema. In a way, Zulema has power over Doris because she could report her and Doris could end up in a home, the thing that she fears most.
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Although she reveals that she hasn't been out in a long time, "At least it's an outing", she tries to deny this by putting on a brave front "which is the one time I'm dangling my feet". The truth is that she is always dangling her feet. However she is ashamed to admit this since her mother was always very sociable "My mother knew everybody in this street." She seems to feel overshadowed by her mother. Furthermore, the reader sees her as a petty person for writing a poison pen letter to the director of operations from the crematorium because the hearse drivers had been smoking in the rhododendrons near the crematorium, "The least I could do was to write".
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Violet uses humor in the drama to catch the audience's eyes and to also make it interesting to watch. Violet uses humor by making funny suggestions or changing the meaning of something for example when she is talking about having control over her body. Alan Bennett uses humor in the play very well and it works with what the speech is about. 'I saw my legs today...that Devon was giving me a bath...whose legs do you think they are...well I have never known this place...'. In the drama repapered words is very common because it is showing Violets old age for example when a fellow if talking to violet he has
- Word count: 591
How does Alan Bennett mix comedy and tragedy? In two monologues look at structure, characterisation, language and dramatic devices.
The audience's imagination is required to give certain effects. One example of this is the image of Lesley writing a postcard for people who couldn't care less about her, a tragic image; the audience feels sorry for her committing such a futile act without realising the crew don't actually like her. There are no actions in these monologues, thus various activities are given via descriptions or anecdotes. Anecdotes can also help to add to the comedy. On example of this is when Graham is talking about someone exposing himself in Sainsbury's: 'As Mother said, 'Tesco, you could understand it!"
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This not only makes us sympathise with her for the loss of her mother, but makes her seem more human and so worthy of pity than the faceless letter writer that she is perceived as. Thoughts can be revealed ostensibly through facial expressions. Throughout the play Routledge's face is plastered with a look of severe indifference to the world. A pithy note would be that Irene never raises so much as a smile in her house. Her only differential mood is pride.
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'Write a critical appreciation, in which you compare at least two of Alan Bennett's dramatic monologues 'Talking heads' from the perspective of a theatre goer/ television viewer'
I found this particularly in 'Chip in the Sugar', where the character talks about his concern for his mother and her new boyfriend because of her age and vulnerability out of concern. However, his extreme over protection, jealousy, and over controlling role over his mother lead to doubts in the audience's mind about their mother son relationship and whether it's more than that or if the two of them are just extremely dependant on each other for support, whereas in normal circumstances the children leave home.
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At the present time Doris is happy living at home on her own and just wishes people would stop making such a big fuss about her and Stafford house. From the BBC TV production you can see what Doris is like and how her life is. The choice of monologue form that Bennet uses is especially good for this character because she has to talk to herself. We are her only listeners. This is why she tells the audience what is going on and nothing much else.
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Later you find out that she has fallen and it seems that it was just a small fall, but throughout the story it is revealed that it was quite bad and that she has broken her hip. This shows that she is fragile. The photo that she was trying to dust fell off and cracked, "Cracked the photo. We're cracked Wilfred". The word cracked suggests that she's old and her relationship is over now that her husband, Wilfred, is dead.
- Word count: 1215