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How does Alan Bennett reveal the character of Doris in 'A Cream Cracker under the Settee?'

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Introduction

How does Alan Bennett reveal the character of Doris in 'A Cream Cracker under the Settee?' In this essay I will be analysing Alan Bennett's short play titled 'A Cream Cracker Under the Settee.' I will be exploring the props, lighting and dramatic techniques used to reveal the character of Doris. I will be investigating why Bennett chose to write the play using monologue and how slowly reveals the character of Doris. The play is about an elderly woman who is alone, trapped in her own home when she falls and injures her leg. She has no means of communication with the world outside and spends the last few hours of her life reminiscing. In the play Bennett uses no active dialogue, this is to keep the audience focused on Doris, her views and opinions. Because only one person is speaking, only one opinion can be given. In order to keep the audiences' attention Doris must perform impersonations of the other characters, so that although there is no active dialogue there is still conversation and the audience are actively involved. Doris uses old but informal language because she is 75 and very old fashioned. In the play Bennett has chosen to give Doris three props, which are a duster, a photograph of Doris and her late husband Wilfred and most importantly the cream cracker. ...read more.

Middle

She begins to realise that like her life the cream cracker is irrelevant. 'Go to black' this signifies the changing of the scene. The stage goes black so that the audience does not see Doris' struggle to move positions throughout the play. This is to make sure that the audience keep focused on the seriousness of the play. "She cranes up towards the window" Doris is on the floor, she is injured and her condition is worsening. She has nobody present to come to her aid and no means of communication with the outside world. "She nips her other leg. 'This ones going numb now.'" This shows that in just a few hours Doris' condition has worsened. There is constant antagonism between Doris and Zulema because both women are head strong and set in their ways. Doris has high cleaning standards and Zulema believes that she is in charge of Doris. Doris often feels patronised by Zulema "I don't want to hear that you've been touching the ewbank." This insinuates that Doris in under Zulema's order/power like a child. The most powerful phrase is "You're on trial here." It suggests that Doris must prove her innocence or she will be sentenced to Stafford house. Doris loathes Zulema, she proves this when she finds the cream cracker and considers blackmailing Zulema the next time that the Stafford house speech commences. ...read more.

Conclusion

However in the rest of the play Doris puts emotion into her memories. Doris no longer feels that she is part of modern society. She feels that she is no longer part of a community and she believes that her name is an issue, "They don't get called Doris now." She thinks that she is an "antique. Keep them under lock and key." At the end of the play when Doris wishes that she was a little child again the audience is forced to empathise with her as everyone has been a child. Doris wants to be clean, loved and looked after. I also think that Doris is disappointed with the way life has turned out for her and she wants to start it over again. I think that Bennett's message is that everyone knows a lonely old lady somewhere and this could be her life story. Bennett wants you to be able to empathise with Doris' character. Bennett makes a serious point in the play but tackles it in a humorous way, he did this because if the play is sad and full of politics then the audience would quickly lose interest in the play. I found the play interesting to read. I thought that it was well written and wasn't too long. When I see elderly people struggling I am reminded to the play. 1 Jodie Smee 10SFz ...read more.

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