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How Does Alan Bennett Reveal The Speaker in 'A Lady of Letters' And Provoke Both Humour And Sadness In The Audience.

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Introduction

How Does Alan Bennett Reveal The Speaker in 'A Lady of Letters' And Provoke Both Humour And Sadness In The Audience 'Miss Ruddock is an ordinary middle-aged woman. The room in which we see her is simply furnished and there is a bay window' However basic these opening stage directions to 'A Lady of Letters' may appear, they do in fact hint at the dominant theme of the monologue, loneliness. Alan Bennett uses stage directions minimally yet effectively throughout, on stage the actions speaking equally as loudly as the carefully chosen and structured words. The fact that Irene, the protagonist, is middle-aged and still a 'Miss' hints at the idea of her being a lonely person, and in addition the 'simply furnished' room physically displays the isolation Irene feels. With this lonesome atmosphere established it could be expected that the 'Bay window' would be a refreshing opening to the outside world, from which Irene is clearly cut off. However instead, it acts as a barrier making Irene a prisoner in her own home. The dramatist's use of a monologue is an effective vehicle for conveying loneliness, and clearly reflects it, as is alone on stage, the intensity of the focus is on Irene, and this allows her character to be developed and revealed fully, with a feeling of intimacy created with the audience. The character is speaking to them directly in the mode of a soliloquy, engaging the audience to the maximum. ...read more.

Middle

Ironically though it is these prejudices that reveal to the audience that Irene is infact a victim of her own narrow-mindedness, and therefore the audience feel sympathy, as she is segregating herself from all that surrounds her. Fortunately though, some of the speakers 'opinions' are less harmful, and these sweeping judgements extend the humour. 'He's labour but it's always very good notepaper and beautifully typed' However Bennett has engaged the audience so intensely that they know that these 'sweeping judgements', all to quickly deteriorate to almost grotesque assumptions, created by Irene's stereotypical views. The playwright states these stereotypical comments with bold, harsh language, invoking a more disturbing and callous humour. 'If they were are caring young couple why did you never see the kiddy?If they were a caring young couple why did they go gadding off every night leaving the kiddy alone in the house' In the lines subsequent to this quote Bennett again uses the 'shock factor' technique as the viewer learns that the kiddy has not been at home alone but in the hospital, and the parents had not been 'gadding off' but going to visit it, and the reason she had not heard the kiddy crying was because, it died ''And that's where the kiddy died.' 'I said what of ?Neglect?' She said ,'No Leukaemia.'' . This deeply moves both the audience and the speaker herself, and on screen the event is performed in a particularly heart renching manner, with the so far stern, Patricia Routledge , breaking down into floods of tears. ...read more.

Conclusion

language is no longer necessary, the viewer is extremely happy for Irene now that she is free of her burden, and in fact she is so busy in prison that she barely has time to write. 'I ought to be writing up my diary...other girls can't think what to put in theirs, me I can't think what to leave out. Trouble is I never have time to write it up, I'm three days behind as it is.' This shows that Irene's unhappiness did indeed sprout from her obsession, as now that she has overcome it she is 'so happy'. A tinge of pathos is again present in this statement as it infers that before prison she couldn't be happy. The audience greatly sympathise with Irene due to this, and Bennett's careful crafting of the final paragraphs allow them to almost feel her previous discomfort, and her newly found sense of belonging, invoking in them the compassion and insight to realise that Irene was a victim. She had disconnected herself so greatly from the rest of the world that all she had left was her 'trusty platignum' standing her 'in good stead' and becoming her only 'real friend'. Irene was a victim of circumstances, of changing times, of society, of narrow-mindedness and above all a victim of, herself. And by showing that Irene was suffering Bennett causes the audience to be delighted when she is paradoxically incarcerated, yet freed from her troubles allowing her to become 'the public spirited guardian of morals,' she always had the potential to be. Kate Healey 21st Century Drama ...read more.

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