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GCSE: Alan Bennet
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- Marked by Teachers essays 1
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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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.
- Word count: 3046
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!"
- Word count: 3204
'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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Her letters include writing replies to circulars and even a letter to the Queen about dog droppings! It starts to become really serious when she writes to her neighbours believing that they were abusing and neglecting their child. This is based on her prejudice towards the parents, for example she is disgusted by the fact that "he has a tattoo" and the "kiddy looks filthy". Although Irene realizes that she may need help and visits the doctor she neglects to take the medication. Her local vicar also has little influence on her. Eventually Irene is cautioned by the police and informed that the child has died of leukemia.
- Word count: 4175
Explain how Alan Bennett conveys the changes that take place in Miss Ruddock, during the course of the monologue?
When she pretended to have a place in society, she combined a mixture of formal English, that sounds artificial and her local dialect to achieve this. Miss Ruddock also seems to be very lonely. This is because, she looks out at people's lives, without actually interacting with them and she uses her letters as a way of communication. From one point of view we feel sorry for Miss Ruddock, because we as an audience think she is writing pointless letters, which is not going to have any affect on the crematorium as it is not worth complaining about.
- Word count: 3706
Although A Cream Cracker Under the Settee is a dramatic monologue we are presented with a range of characters. Show how Bennett presents these characters and consider how realistic you find them.
It is obviously set in England, at least Britain. We are able to deduct this from Doris' northern accent. There are also a few clues in the north country dialect used in her speech. One example is the word 'sneck' in line 41 and the phrase 'swill the flags' in the third paragraph (meaning scrub the pavement). A sneck is an informal word, used to refer to the latches on the outside gate. While Zuleema is trying to convince Doris that retirement homes are not such a bad place to be, she mentions 'They go on trips to Wharfdale.'
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Doris is sitting in the far armchair rubbing her leg and looking at the floor. The music fades as the camera cuts to a close up of Doris's face and shoulders as she begins to speak, this is so we are focussing on Doris. Doris is looking directly at the camera as if she is actually talking to us. This maybe trying to show that she is a lonely person, and perhaps has no one else to talk to. Her speech is slow.
- Word count: 5615