Lady Of Letters Alan Bennett Essay

A Lady of Letters and Cream Cracker under the Settee by Alan Bennett

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"A Lady of Letters" and "Cream Cracker under the Settee" by Alan Bennett

The two monologues I am going to be writing about are two elderly women who are lonely and trapped in their own homes. I will be talking about how Doris, one lady from 'Cream cracker under the settee' and
Irene, the other lady in 'Lady of letters' are suffering from loneliness. Doris and Irene both live alone. They don't seem to have any special friends. For example, Irene doesn't like being people calling her
Irene. People who come across Irene must call her Miss.Ruddock; nobody has called her Irene since her mother died. Only real friends may call
'Miss Ruddock' Irene.

But both Doris and Irene have people who do you look out for them like
the…show more content…

Like when she complained to the council about a curb being cracked, little things like this are quite amusing to see such an intelligent women making a fuss.

Irene and Doris also have some things in common. They both have lost loved ones in their lives. This is an important story line in both monologues, as I will explain later on.

The music in these monologues feels the emotions of what the characters are feeling. When there is a scene where Doris or Irene is happy, the music will go along with the expressions. I could tell when the topic came up on the 'loved lost ones' it was a very dramatic time for Irene and Doris. The music drained out the room with a slow deep beat of a bellow. This makes the monologues more realistic with the different types and style of music, and with the pauses where no music is played at all.

'Cream cracker under the settee' and 'lady of letters' are both set in houses. Which are very stereotypical houses for the elderly, with the dull colours, except in these houses they have horrible bars on their windows that couldn't make Doris and Irene feel very comfortable.

There are a number of things I could write for Doris and Irene, imprisonment, lack and loss and the endings of the monologues. But I have chosen to go in deeply about the loneliness and how it has affected them. I feel that this topic is one of the main structures of the monologues.


Starting with

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"A Lady of Letters" is a dramatic monologue written by Alan Bennett in 1987 for television, as part of his Talking Heads series for the BBC. The series became very popular, moving onto BBC Radio, international theatre, becoming one of the best-selling audio book releases of all time and included as part of both the A-level and GCSE English syllabus.[1] It was the second episode of the first series of Talking Heads.


Irene Ruddock is a single, middle-aged woman living near Bradford and is not afraid to speak, or rather write, her mind. She frequently writes to her MP, the police, the chemist – everyone she can, to remedy the social ills she sees around her. Irene becomes suspicious of a neighbouring couple whom she suspects of neglecting their child, and tries to raise these suspicions to her doctor, who instead offers her a prescription (presumably some kind of anti-depressant or anti-psychotic medication) to help her forget her worries. Irene is eventually questioned by police after having written many abusive letters to the family, who, it emerges, were not neglecting the child but visiting him in hospital where he has just died of leukaemia. It is also revealed that Irene harassed the chemist through a series of letters (accusing his wife of being a prostitute) and finally had a court order taken out against her after a man she had accused of child molestation had a nervous breakdown. For her latest misconduct Irene receives a suspended sentence and is issued with social workers who try to help her find other interests; she is eventually gaoled after starting a new letter-writing campaign.

In prison, Irene makes new friends and develops a thriving social life, taking classes and gaining new skills in a secretarial course. She states that she feels truly happy, perhaps for the first time in her life. She speaks happily as she reviews the process of being released from prison. This could be taken as somewhat ironic, as earlier in the monologue she harshly criticizes the amenities in prison, comparing them to being on holiday.

The end of the monologue finds Irene in a significantly darker mood and tone. Sitting next to an empty bed in a darkened cell with minimal light from a window, she explains that her cell mate often has nightmares of the child she killed, and Irene must comfort her in the night. This conclusion is presented in similar fashion to the dark shift in fate of the main character at the end of another monologue from the same series, called A Woman of No Importance, but it is unknown whether this darker shift in this monologue also means an unhappy end for Irene.


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