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With detailed reference to the text analyse why Doris finally decides to take her own life in "Cream cracker under the settee".

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Introduction

With detailed reference to the text analyse why Doris finally decides to take her own life in "Cream cracker under the settee". In your answer you should comment on society's attitudes towards old people as shown particularly by Zulema and the policeman. Bennett's "Cream cracker under the settee" is a moving monologue about Doris, a seventy five year old, fiercely independent and complex widower who lives on her own in fear of been moved to Stafford House. The play shows her reminiscing about her past, she thinks about many subjects including her late husband Wilfred, her childhood and painful memories of having her baby stillborn which has haunted her ever since. This is the reason foe her obsession with cleanliness. Through these memories I will explore the reasons contributing to Doris' severe unhappiness and eventually to her suicide. I will also be looking at Zulema and the policeman who Bennett uses to voice society's opinions and stereotypes of old people as well as Doris' own attitude towards the elderly. The multi-layered title "A cream cracker under the settee" is very significant foe a number of reasons. It uses the old-fashioned words "cream cracker" and "settee" which suggest that the subject of the monologue is living in the past. After reading the script I noticed that the cream cracker refers to Doris because like the cream cracker she has been pushed out of sight and forgotten about, she is also fragile and crumbling. ...read more.

Middle

Doris' relationship with Zulema represents other people's relationships with old people, it shows that they can't be bothered to spend time with them and they are a burden on society. It also shows stereotypical perceptions of the elderly being dependant and not mentally sound which Doris contradicts Doris resents Zulema for the power she has over her; Zulema reports to Stafford house about Doris' well being, if they think that she isn't coping on her own she will be moved into residential care. Doris wants desperately to avoid going to Stafford house because she will lose her independence and because of her own views of older people. "They all smell of pee. And daft half of them banging tambourines." Doris perceptions of elderly people are stereotypical and contradictory. They are not views you would expect from her because she herself is elderly but still sharp and sane. This suggests that she is in denial about her age. This is another reason she decides to take her own life by avoiding help. If she asked the policeman for help she would have received it but almost certainly been moved to Stafford house. She sees there is no way good way out of the situation and would rather die than be moved into a home. The most talked about subject in the play by Doris is the death her baby, when she gave birth to her stillborn baby the midwife said he "wasn't fit to be called anything" he was wrapped in newspaper as if he were dirty, nothing but rubbish. ...read more.

Conclusion

The policeman calls "Hello, hello?" to Doris but he doesn't know her name. He only asks her once if she is all right, pays no further attention to her then walks away. The policeman shows how people relate with old people, he shows interest in her well being but only because he feels that he should then after talking briefly with her he moves on, he shows no extra personal interest in how she is doing. In conclusion I have found four main reasons why Doris decides to commit suicide. She is lonely and misses her husband, she has never got over the death of her baby, she is unhappy and sees no way she can be happy again as she was in her youth and she wants to avoid going to Stafford house. All these points are serious reasons for her unhappiness and are out of her control. She sees no reason in living and has nothing left in her life to look forward to. The play is powerful because although it is specifically about Doris it is also more generally about older people, how they are viewed, treated and their place in society today. It also challenges many stereotypes about the elderly voiced through Zulema, the policeman and Doris herself. It highlights the insecurities harboured by old people and looks into the bond between mother and child even before the birth. Doris' decision to end her life may at first seen unjustifiable, but considering her experiences I can empathise with her resolution of her dilemma. ...read more.

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