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How Does Alan Bennett achieve both a sense of tragedy and humour in his 'Talking Heads' monologues?

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Introduction

How Does Alan Bennett achieve both a sense of tragedy and humour in his 'Talking Heads' monologues? Alan Bennett uses a variety of techniques to convey a sense of both tragedy and humour in his 'Talking Heads' monologues. I will be looking specifically at 'Bed Among The Lentils' and 'Cream Cracker Under The Settee.' Alan Bennett achieves both of these effects by use of several clever choices regarding the casting as well as sound and visual effects. There are two very different types of humour in 'Bed Among The Lentils' and 'Cream Cracker Under The Settee'. BATL uses a lot of sarcastic, bitter humour whereas CCUTS uses some wry, discreet humour and at times Doris, the elderly woman in CCUTS, seems to be mocking herself "Love God and close all gates." "I ought to put a note on the gate. 'Not my leaves.' The second example gives the impression that she is almost embarrassed by having leaves in her garden and feels that people must acknowledge the fact that they are not her leaves. Susan mocks other people and not herself "Big day for you", she says this to Mr and Mrs Belcher as they carry out simple tasks. ...read more.

Middle

Doris is also extremely reliant on Zulema to carry out jobs in and around the house for her. this frustrates Doris as she would rather be doing this herself to ensure that they are done properly. 'Zulema doesn't dust. She half dusts.' This shows that Doris is unsatisfied with Zulema and is rather fussy when it comes to cleanliness. Susan is constantly criticising her husband and questions his religious believes. 'It could be that Geoffrey doesn't believe in God either' This shows that Susan does not believe in God, this may be because she is resentful towards the church as the people involved seem to divert Geoffrey's attention away from her. However, Susan is very loving and affectionate towards Ramesh, this may be because he is different to Geoffrey because he lets her make her own decisions and doesn't refer to her as the 'vicar's wife' Doris is an extremely petty and obsessive person when it comes to cleanliness. 'Well, Zulema, I bet you haven't dusted the top of that.' She is referring to her wedding photo when she says this and this is a good example of her pettiness as you cannot expect a cleaner to dust the top of a photograph! ...read more.

Conclusion

During CCUTS Doris does not use any gestures and this shows her frailness and once again creates sympathy. Both of these performance pieces are presented in the form of a dramatic monologue and this is an extremely effective way of telling the two stories. By having only one person on the stage it concentrates the viewer's attention on that character and ensures that they have a greater awareness to the character's story. In my view, the camera is hidden to the character and they are looking back on their lives. This is very effective as the characters are completely open about there feelings and emotions. If they were done in play form I do not think they would be as effective in conveying a sense of both humour and tragedy as the viewer's attention would occasionally be drawn towards other characters on stage. In conclusion I feel that these two dramatic monologues are extremely effective at conveying both humour and tragedy. They achieve this effect through the use of effective choices with regards to the stage directions and sound effects. The dramatic monologue form makes the whole thing feel more personal and creates sympathy for these characters. Written by Will Annear dpfohpeohjepohjdthlfogjf[ ...read more.

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