Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads Analysis
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads Analysis

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads Analysis

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  • Pages: 3 (1374 words)
  • Published: October 7, 2017
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There are certain things that you expect to see when you go to watch a traditional conventional play. You may expect action, conflict and conversation among the actors; you expect to see emotions being expressed through dialogue and movement, though primarily you expect to see more that one actor on the stage.

Unlike conventional plays the atypical monologue contains only one character. This narrator is often unreliable and it is up to the audience to watch the play and then judge the character.There is little action a monologue since as they mostly contain dialogue and are largely character driven. I consider monologues to have a greater affect on the audience because you engage in a much more superior insight into how the character feels. Genuinely without realising characters may twist or change a conversation they previously had in order to put their views across to the audience.

They are not necessarily lying; they may have just interpreted the conversation in a slightly different way to how somebody else would have.Many of Alan Bennett’s characters do not entirely understand themselves; he describes them as being “artless”. Miss Ruddock is “artless” when she fails to understand why she has been required to stop penning her letters of complaint. She does not realise she is doing any harm by writing the letters, this may be because in formal letters you do not receive much emotion and letters being the only real contact she has with the outside world she doesn’t realise how much she is hurti

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ng people.

If she spoke to the people she would see how people react to the things she does and says, pick up emotion in tone of voice and body language and possibly realise what she is doing. One convention of Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” is that the characters often dislike change and variation in routine. I think that “A Lady of Letters” is an ironic monologue because Miss Ruddock did dislike change yet change was the one thing that made her happy. This irony shows how artless this character is, the fact that the one thing she didn’t want is the one thing she needed.The whole play is ironic in the fact that we (the audience) are trapped in the words of the play and similarly the characters in the play are trapped in the words of Miss Ruddock’s letters. Miss Ruddock is very much isolated from society; she has time to read the “Evening post in detail, she attends funerals for “an outing” so regularly that she can speak of Miss Pringles not being “up to scratch.

” She believes she is a service to the public but she is oblivious to the fact that the audience sees her as what she really is; a complaining recluse who lives her whole life from behind her net curtains.Being isolated from society is another convention of Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads. ” Also the fact that she attends the funeral of a woman that she had only passed when “getting on the 37” infers that she is lonely and does not have many friends, if any at all. Miss Ruddoc

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decides to write a letter to the crematorium to complain that the service was not “up to scratch. ” This infers that she didn’t know the deceased very well because otherwise she would have been grieving and not noticed the hearse drivers were smoking.

She received a “charming letter back from director of operations at the crematorium” She tells us that the letter was full of clichi?? s like “jump on the culprits with both feet” and “come down on them like a ton of bricks” these have probably been added by Miss Ruddock because a man in such a high position who worked at a crematorium would not use such inappropriate phrases. It is the job of the audience in a monologue to judge the character and decide on what they think was and was not said; the real letter was probably more sophisticated and much plainer.Miss Ruddock does not realise that she is adding things into the letter that were not really in there when she is telling us about it, this is an example of how “artless” she is. She then sends a copy of the letter she received from the director of operations at the crematorium to the grieving family of the woman she had only met a few times on the bus. Another convention of “Talking Heads” is that the tone is often a mixture of tragedy and humour, moments of hopelessness together with by moments of humour.Miss Ruddock explains how she did not expect a reply from the family because whenever anyone died there is a “mass of correspondence.

” She probably received many letters from her mothers friends saying giving their appropriate sympathies, consequently it is quite ironic that she is saying this because sending the letter to the crematorium in the first place was quite inappropriate but sending a copy of the received letter is so gauche it is quite humorous.Though this part is tragic in the fact that she has nothing better to do than go to a funeral for “an outing” and because she is such an outsider and so out of touch with society that she does not realise how uncouth sending this letter was furthermore you feel sympathy for the poor grieving family that received the letter. Another example of this mixture of tragedy and humour in “A Lady Of Letters” is when Miss Ruddock is spying on the neighbours from “across the street”.She informs us of the fact that the neighbours do not have any curtains.

Why does that have anything to do with how well they treat their child? Though the humour is in the irony, curtains only facilitate Miss Ruddock’s spying tendencies. If the neighbours did have curtains then she would not be able to spy on them and she would deny herself the fulfillment of observing their lack of tablecloth when they eat.Therefore, her argument is self-defeating but being so “artless” she does not realise this, she believes she is making a very important point and noticing something that other people would not bother to notice. Though this part of the play is quite humorous

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