Changes in Miss Ruddock Essays

Changes in Miss Ruddock Essays

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How does Alan Bennett show the changes in the character of Miss Ruddock in the Taking Head monologue ‘A Lady of Letters’?

During the 1980s, Alan Bennett wrote a series of low-budget monologues, which together formed Talking Heads. They were written for and broadcasted by the BBC in 1987 (and set in the 1980s), and were ideal for the BBC at the time as they were cutting their broadcasting budget. The monologues were very low cost because they require only one actor and writer, normally no more than two cameras, and little to no props, special effects, lighting or sound. A Lady of Letters has a basic storyline surrounding one main character and therefore fits the monologue style of writing extremely well. Talking Heads was also beneficial to the BBC as it differed from other dramas at the time such as Boys from the Blackstuff and Auf Weidersehen Pet, because it only includes one person’s point of view and only one person is talking. Talking Heads is also a synonym for boredom in TV, which is quite ironic as Miss Ruddock in A Lady of Letters is a bored and lonely woman. A Lady of Letters deals with issues such as loneliness, isolation, people not seeing themselves in the way the audience sees them and failure to accept the truth – Miss Ruddock experiences all of these feelings. Bennett’s monologues generally deal with everyday topical issues, as the audience can relate to matters that affect them personally.

Alan Bennett shows change in society – the 1980s were very different from when he was growing up in the 50s and 60s. When he was young, the community would have been very close and everyone would have known each other; however, in the 80s community Miss Ruddock feels as though she does not know anybody and is stuck in the p...


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...lled with useful tasks. This largely contributes towards her change of attitude in life. Bennett is trying to show the audience there is little point in living in the past, becoming too prejudiced or judging people on appearances as it doesn’t get you anywhere in life. He is also trying to tell the audience to make the most of life as it is, be friendly and try to be a useful, active part of the community as you will feel better for it. On top of this, Bennett also makes the audience realize that you should not prejudge people, for example Miss Ruddock appears to the audience to be a self centered vindictive old lady, but in actual fact she only appears this way due her to her loneliness. A Lady of Letters is a very successful monologue and an interesting piece of work. Bennett has managed to convey his message to the audience in an effective and appealing fashion.

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