Exploring the role of the Forest of Dean in Dennis Potters works.

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Ian Williams        

Exploring the role of the Forest of Dean in Dennis Potters works.

Dennis Potter is famed for his works including scenes in the Forest of Dean. The Forest of Dean is situated in the South West Of Gloucestershire, England. It is a place where mining boomed in the industrial revolution. As a result of this, the inhabitants grew to have, you could say, a culture of their own. Nowadays the “culture” has been, in some ways, disregarded. Dennis helps the long-time inhabitants of the forest to re-visit their former life-style and child-hood.

        In his dramas “ Blue Remembered Hills” and “The Singing Detective”, Potter re-visits his own childhood whilst writing. He shows the openness, happiness and freedom of the forest though he also shows more sinister side..


“For any writer, the first 14 years of his or her life are the crucible, no matter what you do.” Potter states that childhood is a key part to a writer’s life and that it may inspire them to set their books in the place of their upbringing. As Potter often does this, I think this is relevant to his writing. The first book to look at is, most obviously, “Blue Remembered Hills”. In this piece, he sets his characters in the Forest of Dean. As the characters in Blue Remembered Hills are children, Potter uses its magnitude and beauty to dwarf the children. As he is a T.V. writer, he is allowed to use such an enormous set, as on stage, it could not be done. The majority of the play is set in the forest and you could say that the trees are huge props for the children to play amongst. Although he shows the magnificence of the forest well, he never once glances on the industrial side of the forest (coal mining).

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        He uses the forest symbolically as well as literally, as in Blue Remembered Hills, the forest symbolises the Garden of Eden. Blue Remembered Hills touches on the fact that humanity spoils the Garden of Eden as the children chase, and kill, a squirrel:

A grey blur as a stunned squirrel, hit by a stone, hurtles out of the tree, down on the ground beneath.

Raymond: (eventually) Is-is him d-dud-dead?

Peter: Oy. ‘Course him is. Deader than dead.

John: (awed) Him couldn’t live through that.

        As you will notice from the extract, he has written the play ...

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