How Is Miss Ruddock’s Terrible Loneliness Conveyed In Alan Bennett’s

How Is Miss Ruddock’s Terrible Loneliness Conveyed In Alan Bennett’s

A Lady Of Letters?

Miss Irene Ruddock is an ordinary middle-aged woman who lives on her

own. She was close to her mother who had recently passed away. Miss

Ruddock has no real friends and finds it difficult to fill her time so

she is often sitting in her chair, looking out of her window and

noting what is going on in other people’s lives. She has no social

life and she only leaves the house when she has to.

Alan Bennett shows Miss Ruddock’s loneliness through her obsession of

writing letters. She uses these letters as a way of communicating with

the world outside her home. In the drama, before going to prison, we

do not hear Miss Ruddock have a meaningful conversation with anyone

other than her doctor, who she is talking to, not about her own

health, but about her neighbour’s child, who she feels is being

neglected. This shows that she is lonely because she has no close

family or friends around her who she can talk to so she think that by

writing letters she is helping the people around her and making

herself feel useful. In the monologue Miss Ruddock writes letters to a

wide range of people. All of the letters have one thing is common,

which is that they are all letters of complaint. She goes to the

funeral of somebody she barely knew and complained to the funeral

directors about ‘grown men sulking in the rhododendrons with tab ends

in their mouths’. She also, after a trip to London, wrote to the Queen

to complain about some dog poo in front of Buckingham Palace. This

tells the viewers that she is lonely because she will talk about the

smallest things if it means she will be communicating with somebody.

Miss Ruddock also replies to ...

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... things with which to occupy her time. ‘I am that busy …

I’ve opted for bookbinding and dressmaking’. With these things she

has had no time with which to write letters and she has nothing to

complain about. The viewer also knows she is lonely as her last words

in the monologue are ‘I am so happy.’ For most people prison is the

worst time of their lives but prison gave Miss Ruddock a new license

of life and now she has so little time for herself and feels so wanted

and needed she loves life.

I think that when Miss Ruddock is released from prison she will not

continue to write letters. I think that, for most people the story

had a sad ending, but Miss Ruddock learned a lot from prison, it

helped her to overcome her ‘terrible loneliness’ by making her feel

she had a purpose. It also taught her how to communicate with people

orally, and how to make friends.
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