The play uses a minimalist setting. There is little movement which adds to Doris as an isolated character separated from the outside world, she also has restricted movement inside her own home as she struggles to travel around her home. “My legs a bit numb but I’ve managed to get back on the chair.” This shows that because of her injury she cannot move about her home as she is barely able to sit on a chair, this could show that she needs to be at Stafford House but she has too much pride, however it could be argued that she is stubborn and unwilling to give in. This could show that it’s not only her pride that keeps her at home but her love for the memories at her home. Also the quote, “Don’t know anybody round here. Folks opposite. Don’t know them.” Shows that she is also restricted movement outside of her home as she hasn’t gotten to know her neighbours also she has lived there for many years. It could seem funny that she had grown emotionally attached to a place which she hasn’t even gotten to know properly. She wants to live in her own bubble where she feels safe although reality is that it is at Stafford where she is safe and at her own home where she is in danger.
The old fashioned furniture could be symbolic of her old fashioned ideas. She’s prejudiced and reluctant to change; this creates intimacy because we’re invited into her home which is very old fashioned. The setting portrays Doris as an alienated individual unwilling to change or become modern. She has a tiled fireplace which shows she takes care in her home and keeps it clean; this could also show that she is stuck in the past as she still has a fire place which is very old fashioned. This further proves that the old fashioned furniture in her home could be symbolic of her old fashioned ideas. The furniture reflects her personality and brings her to life. “The gates open again. Bang bang bang all morning.” This could show that because the gate is ‘banging on’ as if it is talking, she is able to reply to it which brings her to life. Bennet uses this inanimate object to allow Doris to act on something which allows her to become more alive and also could prove that she has OCD as she wants the gate to be shut, could show she wants everything to be perfect.
The music suits the character as it creates a calm relaxing atmosphere which relaxes the reader and prepares for the long intense periods of speech. The music relates to the age and era that Doris is from which brings us back to her being old fashioned and unwilling to change. At the beginning of the monologue the music reflects the mood as it creates a calm atmosphere and setting. In moments of tension the music softens the sad but calm and serene environment, the music makes sure the monologue is not too depressing as it livens the atmosphere when needed, this also livens Doris. The music starts when Doris begins to talk about her child ‘John’. “The midwife said he wasn’t fit to be called anything,” at this point Doris is becoming emotionally unstable; the music starts and reflects the mood of Doris and emphasises the heart-rending atmosphere.
Doris uses sense of humour which helps her to cope. She is unintentionally funny which helps to show her personality as a women concerned with small details (further giving evidence of having OCD) and her small world. Doris is living in a small world of her own which she is concerned with, being completely isolated from everyone else her humour could be argued to keep her company. Her humour shows her as stubborn such as “smell of pee.” & “love god and close all gates.” Humour alleviates the tension and also makes the play a trag, comedy and romcom, without the humour it would have been a very sad play that although addressed issues would have come across as emotionally disturbing because of the large audience it attracted who could relate to it. Doris speaks from her mind, she is very serious but Alan Bennett made her come across as humorous to keep the character alive and to keep the monologue light hearted.
Doris is very humorous which is used as a key as it allows her to seem more alive. “Well, he’s got a minute now, bless him.” This refers to when Doris used to nag her husband about fixing the gate and he always used to reply saying “when I get a minute” She uses humour at this point to lighten the atmosphere. Doris’s tone of voice when she is speaking about certain things reflect her emotion which is usual, this is clever as it makes her seem more like a person we are speaking to face to face. For example: when Doris is talking about Zulema her voice is drowsy which tells us that she is either bored or fed up. On the other hand when talking about Wilfred you can notice her voice break which shows talking about him emotionally affects her and she cares for her husband like all wife’s would do. The previous quote also proves this point as at that point her voice softens and she goes into deep thinking, most probably thinking about the past. Doris is a nagging character, old women tend to nag; this makes her more believable as an old character and it could suggest that Doris’s nagging could have driven Wilfred to an early grave. “The gates open again. You see Zulema should have closed that, only she didn’t,” This could show that because of Doris’s constant nagging Zulema was in such a rush to leave she forgot to close the gate, this could show that the same had happened to Wilfred only because he was elderly like Doris he was incapable of escaping physically and as a result was driven to an early grave. “Folks,” her language is very old fashioned and in the past which could show that either the play was set in the past or again could prove that she is living in the past and is not to change.
Pauses keep the audience on the edge of their seats, anxious for the next scene to come. When Doris pauses while talking could be a constant reminder that she is old and losing her memory and it could be foreshadowing the fact that her time is coming to an end and she is going to die. “We’re cracked,” the pause between this creates tension and it can be a hint that her life is coming to an end, its breaking to pieces... just like the photo. Pausing gives the audience a chance to come to grips with what is happening as it can be hard for the brain to process because of its deep emotional meanings. Every time the screen goes to black we see a new scene, we wonder what has happened and how did it happen; this makes audience concentrate on setting thus bringing Doris to life as it shows her pride. It shows this as Bennett does not show her having to crawl around the house he keeps that hidden so Doris maintains her pride hence making her more alive as a character.
This monologue addresses issues of isolation of the elderly along with consistent themes of loneliness, regret, remorse and sadness which each affected different audiences. The authorial intent could have been that not to abandon people and also that the elderly find it very difficult to adapt. This message has been given several times throughout the monologue and I believe that Bennett did success in making the character of Doris seem alive as the ‘Talking Heads’ Series was a massive hit. Doris’s independence and rejection of the outside world is show even today so people could relate to the novel and understand the feelings of Doris, this would make them emotionally attached to the monologue thus making it such a popular series. Bennett could have faced experiences like this in the past which is why he had decided to write this monologue with such feelings and emotions.
I believe that without humour the monologue “A Cream Cracker under the Settee” would have left audiences psychologically distressed so Bennett ingeniously created a lighter, less tense mood therefore pleasing the audience and making it a huge hit even in the present day.