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How does the Audience Respond to Miss Ruddock on Alan Bennett's 'A Lady of Letters' What are Alan Bennett's Messages about Society

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How does the Audience Respond to Miss Ruddock on Alan Bennett's 'A Lady of Letters'? What are Alan Bennett's Messages about Society 'A Lady of Letters' is a play about a mature spinster who is very lonely and spends her time writing letters to strangers, often getting her into trouble. It stars Patricia Routledge as Irene Ruddock who is the opinionated and irritating lady of letters. The play is written in the style of a dramatic monologue. This style of drama involves one character telling their story. The effect of a dramatic monologue is that it means you get to know the character really well so you can empathise with their situation, thoughts and feelings. The effect of this play being made for television is that it is more personal and therefore more real, it emphasises the claustrophobic nature of the play, and the camera movements allow the audience to examine the character's facial features and understand what she is thinking and her feelings. Also, the lighting shows the natural passing of time and allows the audience into the character's space. The main themes of the monologue are loneliness, curiosity and judgement of others, living an empty life and social marginalisation. Miss Ruddock is a lonely character. "(She picks up her pen) It's stood me in good stead has this pen. ...read more.


The policeman was asking her about the letters that she wrote and said "We're asking you because who was it who wrote to the chemist saying his wife was a prostitute?"(p49) This was the first of two examples of letters that Miss Ruddock has written that had been accusing people of things they hadn't done without any real evidence. This makes the audience irritated with her, but at the same time, it's quite amusing. We feel pity for Miss Ruddock because she is lonely, has no friends or family and has nothing to do. Her only friend is her pen. "'It's been a real friend.'" (p45) The only thing she likes can't like her back. This could be because if it could feel things, it wouldn't like her so her only friend is inanimate. If nobody likes someone it makes them isolated and lonely so we pity her. The only person who ever liked her and she respected was her mother, and she died. "She lost her mother around the same time I lost mine." (p44). She has also suffered the loss of the only person she liked and that is a horrible thing because she is sad as well as lonely. The stage directions also give hints about her life. They dim and come up, but she stays in the same place. "Go to black. Come up on Miss Ruddock in the same setting. Morning."(p45) ...read more.


She also appears old fashioned and grumpy, as she bothers to write a letter about what she doesn't like. Alan Bennett builds up to the moment of terrible revelation about the 'kiddy' by bringing the family in as new neighbours of Miss Ruddock, and writing about her judging them before she knows them. "I see we've got a new couple moved in opposite. Don't look very promising. The kiddy looks filthy." (p45). This makes the audience feel a bit irritated at Miss Ruddock for being so presumptuous, but also quite amused at her because she acts so oddly. Alan Bennett then starts to write about Miss Ruddock talking about the 'Kiddy's' parents going out every night and leaving it on it's own. This is also an example of Miss Ruddock talking about people in a bad way when she doesn't actually know what is going on. When she is told that the boy is dead, she continues to stick to her judgements right up until she is told that he had leukaemia, and wasn't neglected as she had thought. The audience's reaction to this revelation is, mixed. We feel sad because the boy is dead, but also still amused at how Miss Ruddock has been judging people unfairly, although this also makes us more annoyed with her. The way we feel about Miss Ruddock is slightly ironic. We are irritated at her for being prejudiced and judgemental, but we ourselves are judging her. ...read more.

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