This sample essay on Cream Cracker Under The Settee provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
‘A Cream Cracker Under the Settee’ is a monologue, which is a play with a single character. The character is Doris, a seventy five year old widow, who lives on her own. She has home help that visits once a week. In this monologue form, information is gradually revealed by the one character – Doris.
We find out she’s had an unhappy life; eventually we find out why. Doris looks back nostalgically on her childhood and early marriage, the times in her life when she was truly happy. Something changed her life. At first the reader is unaware and even misled by Bennett.
Doris describes Wilfred as “dad”, and thus he misleads the viewer into thinking there was a baby. We later find there was a baby, but it was a stillbirth.
Doris didn’t like the midwife’s attitude when she wrapped the baby in newspaper then put it in a shoebox. Doris felt she was treating it like dirt. She says, “He wasn’t dirty, little thing”. This could have been the start of Doris’s hygiene obsession. Also, Wilfred did not help her much. Her husband wanted to get a dog instead. Her marriage wasn’t great, Wilfred was a dreamer and frustrated Doris.
Wilfred started little projects like an allotment, but never did anything with them, and then he moved onto something else.
Doris still misses him though. We know this because she talks to the wedding photo, which also shows she is lonely. We know Doris has had an unhappy past: she is also having an unhappy present. There is an immediate problem. Doris has been dusting and had an accident, she hurt her leg and it’s getting worse. Part of Doris’s unhappiness is her loneliness, she has no family and no friends: “we were always on our own. Me and Wilfred. We weren’t gregarious”.
This is exacerbated because Doris hasn’t moved with the times; she doesn’t like change and new social patterns. Doris’s main cause of unhappiness is her home-helper Zulema. She patronises Doris and keeps threatening her with Stafford House. Doris feels she is a prisoner, referring to “the Zulema regime”. All the information I have considered is gradually revealed to the audience using a number of dramatic techniques. Doris uses non-standard English, like “them’s her leaves”. She also has a local dialect and uses words like “squatting” instead of placing.
This establishes her character: she is probably working class but when she uses words like “surreptitious” and “gregarious” Bennett suggests she is quite clever. Bennett emphasises things about Doris by using recurrent themes. Doris has a hygiene obsession. She talks about cleanliness a lot and is prejudiced against people in Stafford House because she thinks they are unclean. She talks about her husband Wilfred frequently and speaks to the photo of him. Another technique Bennett uses is reported speech: this brings in other characters so the monologue is more interesting.
An example of this is Zulema – we form our impression of the character from what Doris tells us she says: “you’re on trial here”. Sometimes Doris has an imagined conversation where she plans what she’ll say to Zulema: “don’t Stafford House me”. Doris does this because she would like to say it, but really she wouldn’t dare. Bennett also uses direct address where she speaks to the audience. She says, “Would you credit it? ” This is to get more involvement from the viewers. ‘A cream cracker under the settee’ was written for television, so it uses a number of dramatic techniques to do with performance.
These include, set, costume, lighting and music. The set gives the audience important information at the start of the monologue about the character and the plot. The set is old fashioned. The carpet is brown and beige and patterned, the room is dull with few ornaments, and this could mean she is poor. Right away you can tell something has happened: there is a buffet on its side and a cracked photo on the hearth, and Doris has a duster in her hand. The costume used is old fashioned which reflects Doris. She has a blue floral “frock ” which she says she’s had “for years”.
She wears a pink knitted cardigan, horned rimmed glasses and tights. All these are very practical clothes. Another technique used in the performance is the lighting. In the morning Doris is sitting in front of the window and she is backlit. When she is against the sideboard she is away from the window so it is less bright. Doris later moves to the door where it is darker still. In the evening she is sat by the sofa and the room is orange due to the streetlights. There are two dramatic functions of the lighting. One of them is to indicate the passage of time.
Doris does not tell the viewer what time it is. The second is as a metaphor: the last stage direction is ‘light fades’, and this could indicate Doris’s death. The last two dramatic techniques of the performance are the use of music and the camera. At the start the music sounds sad and lonely – this sets the mood straight away as it is depressing. The instruments are piano and brass, solo instruments that are alone, like Doris. There is a single camera which is linked to the music, zooming in to emphasise emotional moments. The camera does not move around Doris so any movement is effective.