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What is waiting for the telegram about and how does it work as a drama?

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What is waiting for the telegram about and how does it work as a drama? Delicate themes, such as old age and homosexuality, are addressed in Alan Bennett's, Waiting for the telegram, taken from his talking heads series two. In the monologue, the tone is a mixture of tragedy and comedy, and Bennett incorporates parallels and contrasts which underline these central themes. Broadcasted on BBC2 on November 11th 1998, in the monologue, award winning Thora Hird plays the only role. Bennett wrote of an elderly woman named Violet - 95 years old and has had a stroke. Violet is bedridden, and totally dependant on the nursing staff in the home where she now lives. Throughout the monologue, we here Violet's account of her day to day life in the home, and also of her past regrets and experiences. Thora's acting skills, bring an emotional depth to the role, which is crucial for the audience to feel sympathy towards Violets story. The title, Waiting for the telegram, has a double significance for Violet. The first, she is an elderly woman and nearing the age of 100, this means she is soon to be receiving a telegram from the queen, in celebration of this. Also, we find out later in the monologue, that she used to be waiting for a telegram saying that her boyfriend was dead, from the war. This is particularly significant, as it fits in with many of the themes, including: waiting, tragedy, the certainty of death and regret. ...read more.


Francis' unexpected and premature death, fits in with another theme to the monologue - the certainty of death. As we are told Violet is the oldest resident in the home, we naturally assume she will be the first to die. However, it becomes apparent, everyone Violet becomes close to dies around her - Francis, Edward and Rene. This helps us to see how lonely she is, but also that she must have become used to this tragic fact. Judgement and natural assumption are a part of life, albeit sometimes they are wrong, it is from these assumptions that people can see a little about your character. Although Violet does not mind that Francis is gay, she jumps to the conclusion that he is not only heterosexual, but hat he has a girlfriend. '"Are you as sharp as this with your girlfriend?" He said, "You are my girlfriend."' given that it does not even cross Violet's mind that he may be gay, demonstrates her naivety for the subject. On the contrary, keeping with the comical side of the monologue, when faced with an elderly flasher, Violet remains calm. '"You can put that away." He said, "I've got a big detached house in Harrogate." I said, "That's no excuse." He said, "It's got five bathrooms."'. It is the blunt delivery of this information which makes it so humorous, and even the word 'penis', is laughable for the same reason. ...read more.


It means, Violet can put across her feelings of what the other characters say, in their actual dialogue. However, We have to wonder at this point, just how reliable Violet's account is. We can see her condition has affected her outlook on life, and she is therefore biased in her views, and perhaps in an unstable condition to give us a well rounded contention. When we look at the monologue, we need to think about it with an open mind, not only reading Violet's story, but hearing the underlying messages Alan Bennett wants us to consider. For example: Devon's hostile nature in dealing with the resident's, to Violet she is intimidating, but this may be just because of her lack of experience- something which should be addressed in nursing homes. Thora Hird, won a award for best actress for her role in Waiting for the telegram, and it is clear to see why. As she lives up to every expectation given by the stage directions of Violet's character, she can switch from heated frustration with words, to poignant misery, with the greatest of ease. This, combined with the writing excellence of Alan Bennett, provides us with a well thought out technique which to communicate his feelings to the world. The monologue displays just the right amounts of engaging humour, real life, relatable situations and tragic heart-wrenching anecdotes, to be a major hit. And as the last of the talking heads series, it leaves you both thinking of your own experiences with the elderly, and wanting more. English Ms Stevens By Emma Carter ?? ?? ?? ?? Emma Carter /5 ...read more.

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