How does Bennett deal with the theme of imprisonment in two or more of his 'talking heads'.

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Emmanuel Ntombura



Coursework Assignment



This essay will be focussing on the theme of loneliness in monologues. I will be looking at the connections between ‘A Lady of Letters,’ and ‘Playing Sandwiches,’ in relation to the theme I’m focussing on. A monologue is a dramatic composition for one character or long speech performed by one character. There are lots of ways in which you can tell what a monologue is. A dramatic monologue always has a speaker and an implied auditor. The auditor often perceives a gap between what the speaker says and what the speaker reveals. The reader also adopts the POV of the auditor/speaker. The speaker also nearly always uses a case-making or argumentative tone of voice. The auditor then completes the dramatic scene from within, using means of interference and imagination. The dramatic monologue presents a 2-step sequence: we enter what looks like a normal situation, but become aware of discrepancies that gradually encourage us to suspect the speaker’s reliability, motives and actions. As the self-justifying (“case-making”) bombards us with a rationalisation/explanation of his/her actions, the auditor begins to construct a fully detailed alternative vision of the speaker and the events he describes, in effect creating an “untold story.” The reader acts as a judge as well, appreciating the depth of the speakers’ conscious or unconscious shortcomings. The advantages of a monologue having only one character is that we focus entirely on one character with no distractions. We also get to know the character in an unusual format. The disadvantages of having only one character talking is that we only get one perspective, one person’s views and beliefs. It also tends to get slightly repetitive.

A lot of these monologues have been televised the BBC and it’s quite interesting to see the way they come out. Both of these monologues use low-key lighting and are quite shadowy, which is perfect for theme of loneliness. I think the obvious symbolic connection between these 2 monologues is windows. Irene uses windows to spy on people and Wilfred uses windows to look out of while he’s in jail and they’re always in the background and I think this is very important if the theme is to be successful. The camera shots are mainly POV shots to get the shot from the character’s point of view otherwise close ups and mid shots are used quite a bit. The only one of these 2 monologues that I think mix comedy and tragedy well is ‘A Lady of Letters.’ This is when Irene says “piss up,” instead of “piss off.” This is quite funny because Irene thinks she’s being funny but the audience laugh at the fact that she thinks she’s being funny which makes it comic. I don’t think there is anything comic in “Playing Sandwiches” as it all seems so tragic to me, no mix.

There are different things in these 2 monologues that are making Irene (A Lady of Letters) and Wilfred (Playing Sandwiches) lonely. In Wilfred’s case, he has and always will be lonely because of his unacceptable acts. Wilfred says, “I used to think when I got out I’d go somewhere right away.” This quote means that Wilfred always used to think that after every incident where he’d been to jail for his bad ways, that he could start afresh in a new place and change. But no matter where he goes he always seems to end up working around children. He always seems to be reminded of his past wherever he goes. He was asked, “Weren’t you a lollipop once?” Of course he decides to lie and deny it. Even a policeman recognises him from working at a swimming pool. All these jobs have connections with kids. This is what is making Wilfred lonely because even when he’s not around kids he is isolated then because he constantly wants to be around them and so he can’t be rid of his problem. As a result, “The judge said I would be given treatment.” I agree with this statement because no matter how many times he goes to prison it won’t do any good. Therefore he needs to be given treatment.

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In Irene’s case, I get the impression that ever since her mother died she hasn’t been the same. She has been lonely ever since. Irene has several memories of her mother. For example there is a pen that her mother bought for her and she says, “It’s been a real friend.” This is a sign of her loneliness. This is probably the same pen she uses to write all the letters she did. I think Irene knows that she’s lonely, but due to it, it causes her to act in a certain way that she thinks is absolutely fine ...

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