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How do Alan Bennett and the director of Talking Heads invoke both humour and pathos?

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Introduction

How do Alan Bennett and the director of Talking Heads invoke both humour and pathos? Alan Bennett and the director invoke humour and pathos in numerous ways in each of the Talking Head speeches. In all the Talking Heads, there are recurring themes, such as loneliness (A Cream Cracker under the settee) and exaggerated pride or self-confidence (Her Big Chance). None of the characters are truly happy, although the little happiness can come their way through surprising means. Graham finds happiness when his mother doesn't leave him for Mr Turnbull, although, ironically, in the future he may have been happier if she had. Each person has a secret, which is hidden, yet perhaps subconsciously known, and isn't revealed, Grahams slightly fragile mental state, Doris wish to die, Susan's alcoholism and loss of faith and Lesley's promiscuity, and lack of talent. Although none of the character aims to be funny, Bennett makes them speak in a way which causes the audience to laugh at the situation (sometimes absurd), that they are in, or their choice of words. For example, Grahams mothers comment about the man at Tescos, or Susans flower arranging account at the church. A lot of humour comes from the characters seriousness retelling of stories in a language, which they perceive to be so, yet to us, they aren't. ...read more.

Middle

Lesley, in "My Big Chance" causes people to feel sympathetic towards her, because she is a woman who is seeking to be liked. Lesley tries to appear to be professional, and she does reiterate this throughout her speech, often saying she is a professional, and that she would rather curl up with a book. However, she is far for this, as she is made to seem not this, "You look an interesting person. I like interesting people". Bennett changes the perception that Lesley is 'professional', when she says "You won't be able to tell my tits from my goose pimples". Bennett is very successful in showing her lack of intelligence, foolishness and how she can't see these traits in herself, and it is at these things, we can laugh at her attempts to appear otherwise. Alan Bennett uses bathos to provide humour in "A Bed among the Lentils". "Godfrey's bad enough but I am glad I wasn't married to Jesus". It is the link between something that is ordinary, to something that is godly, which provides the humour. This also occurs in "Her Big Chance", the juxtaposition saying she killed someone, then missing it because it was interesting, provides humour because of its ridiculousness. ...read more.

Conclusion

Graham is concerned about this relationship his mother has with Mr Turnbull. This role reversal, does provide humour, and sympathy, because you would expect a 40-something year old man to not be living on his own, and you would expect his mother to be worrying about Graham, and not vice versa. An example of the humour in this Talking Head is when Graham's mother, Vera, launches a purely enjoyable attack on the vicar. This reveals her lack of understanding and her prejudices. In "A Chip in the Sugar", Graham is the complete opposite of his mother, Vera's love interest, Mr Turnbull. Graham is your so-called typical Guardian reader - avoids deodorant, is environmentally conscious, likes date and walnut bread. When he comes into conflict with Mr Turnbull, a racist and bigamist, yet well off, and well dressed, this provides humour. Grahams mother can be seen to have an imbalanced view of life, perhaps because she can't break away from her dominating son. She is annoyed that the money she gave to the poor and needy as gone to waste because, "it would have brought me some Quality Street". This is an example of bathos, which, in some respects, does provide humour to the watcher/reader. When watching the Talking Heads, the director uses cuts, different camera angles and the introduction of music when the speaker is talking to good effect. ...read more.

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