How does Bennett use dramatic devices to bring the character of Doris alive in "A Cream Cracker Under the Settee"?

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Cream Cracker under the Settee by Alan Bennett

   How does Bennett use dramatic devices to bring the character of Doris alive?

Alan Bennett was born in Leeds on the 9th May 1934, and attended Leeds Modern School then gained a place at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge. This clearly shows he was well educated. However, Alan Bennett attended Exeter College where he had gained a 1st class honours degree in History. Bennett later became an actor and a playwright; his career led him to narrating many books e.g. Madness of King George, and the Talking Heads Series, which was nominated for a BAFTA award in 1989. These series address issues of Death, illness and isolation; however, Bennett uses humour to keep the monologue light hearted and to create a less serious atmosphere.

The ‘Talking Heads’ Series is a dramatic monologue; the only reason it is so popular is because it is directed at families so they can relate to the show, it features aspects of life which the audience experience in their lifetime which is why it attracted so many viewers and had them hooked. Alan Bennett used the series to deal with issues seen in society such as Death, mourning, the elderly and isolation.

A monologue is a long, uninterrupted speech from actor to the audience. They can be limited as there is only one character so the writer needs to think about how the character will connect with the audience. There are long intense periods of just listening to a character ramble on thus the audience have to imagine other characters and relationships rather than see them. This can make it very difficult to bring the character to life because the monologue can become very draining, there are no other characters to act towards or talk to and there are not many stage directions to make the character lively which is why Bennett uses dramatic devices to bring the character of Doris to life.

Doris is a lonely elderly woman living on her own in her semidetached house, this suggests she could be from a middle class background thus making her a stereotypical middle class woman with very conservative and prejudice views. This is shown when she talks about her views on Sikhs and unmarried couples. “‘Grand carpet sale.’ Carpet sales in chapels now. Else Sikhs.” This sentence gives evidence of Doris’s views on Sikhs; she could also be classified as a racist. Doris rambles on throughout the monologue about her life as she had hurt her leg attempting to dust. She reminisces about the past, feeling mixed emotions such as guilt, fear and self-pity also about the people closest to her (Wilfred her husband, her baby which she had lost and Zulema, a worker from the council.) Doris could be classified as an elderly woman with OCD as a worker from the council called Zulema visits her weekly to clean her home, however, it is not enough so she attempts to clean her home herself; this reassures the fact that she has a lot of pride in her home which is why she does not want to go to Stafford House – a house for the elderly. “But Zulema doesn’t dust. She half-dusts. I know when a place isn’t clean.” This quote proves that Doris possibly has OCD because even though the worker from the council cleans her home weekly she still attempts to clean it.

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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 ...

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