Alan Bennett’s characters are often disillusioned and lonely – how far do you agree with this statement? Essay

Submitted By charliehowes
Words: 1189
Pages: 5

I agree to some extent that the characters of Lesley and Miss Ruddock portray lonely and delusional people. This is initially demonstrated by the setting in Miss Ruddock’s case. The stage directions state “an ordinary middle class woman, the room in which we see her is simply furnished and there is a bay window. It is afternoon.” It can be seen before the monologue has even began that she is an unemployed spinster who sits alone for hours looking out of the bay window, never moving.
Miss Ruddock’s loneliness is further accentuated by her attendance at the funeral of an acquaintance which she has only met on the bus a few times simply because she has nothing else to do and is looking for an excuse to go out. Writing her letters of complaint is her only outlet and communication with the outside community. She also feels that her letters give her a protection from the people around her and gives her a reason to refrain from physical contact; in addition she feels that she is positively contributing to the community by acting as a spirited guardian of morals, as Bennett articulates in his introduction. Her pen was given to her by her mother before she died and represents the only connection to her mother she has left. Throughout the monologue she calls it her “trusty platignum” personifying it as her only friend.
In comparison Lesley is seemingly very different from Miss Ruddock but still remains a lonely and delusional character. The way in which she is dumped after having sex with a series of men shows that no matter how much physical contact she has it is still meaningless. She finds herself desperate for attention but because of her low self esteem she allows herself to be sexually exploited and verbally insulted. “Listen who do you think you are playing, Emily Bronte? Gunther wants to see your knockers.” Alan Bennett uses the men in the play as a voice of reality for the audience. “now it’s back to real life”......”Some of us never left it”. While Miss Ruddock talks as though she is reading a letter, Lesley speaks as though she is reading a script. This is evident in both monologues.
Because she played a part as an extra in a film she now regards herself as a professional actress. The truth is she has no intellectual ability, objectivity or talent, not even a sense of humour; “Why is making a film like a mushroom? They keep you in the dark and every now and again somebody comes and throws a bucket of shit over you”....”I said, that’s interesting, only Terry they don’t grow mushrooms like that anymore, it’s all industrialised” in spite of all her efforts all she has to give is her body.
When Lesley is given the role of Travis, she tries to elevate her part by attempting to contribute ideas in order to add depth, not realising that she is part of a pornographic film and her part is meaningless. “Another suggestion I could make would be to kit Travis out with some glasses.” By adding more to her character she is also trying to impress the director, Simon. “Reading generally indicates a studious temperament and I’m a very convincing reader.”
Lesley becomes totally immersed with her role to the extent that she begins to mix reality and her own world. “It matters to me, it matters to Travis”. She takes on the identity of Travis because she has no personality of her own. “I’d become so identified with Travis it was only when I’d had a bath and freshened up, that I felt her loosen her hold on me.”
Lesley has a raw hunger for being accepted and tries anyway she can to be liked. She clings on to anyone who shows her civility and is willing to go to any extent to make them happy. Her childish naivety often means that she ends up sleeping with most of the men throughout. Although Bennett does not directly tell the audience this it can be assumed by the phrases he uses. “His rooms nicer than mine. His rooms got a hair dryer.” If a man sexually rejects her she makes an immediate assumption that he must be gay.
In her