This sample of an academic paper on Monologue Examples reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
In reading Alan Bennett’s selection of monologues I have analysed each character used. Having studied them closely I have gained respect for each character; in dealing with their myriad of individual, and sometimes shared, problems they each have still managed to live, what is to them if no-one else, full and relatively “normal” lives.
But I have also developed feelings of sympathy towards one character in particular. With another I have developed an overwhelming lack of compassion.
Bennett describes the character in “A Chip in the Sugar”, a middle-aged man called Graham Whittaker, quite guardedly at first. The way that Bennett imparts information to his readers is very sporadic. In doing this he tends to deceive us a little, letting our own imaginations run wild about the truth behind the character, their real persona.
This can make it difficult to trust the opinions, tone and actual basis of the monologue.
Graham Whittaker is an unreliable narrator. He relates conversations had between his mother, her friend Mr Turnbull and himself with a rather self-pitying slant. He makes out that he was ignored and ridiculed by Mr Turnbull and his mother, who at the beginning of the monologue says how much Graham means to her. “Graham, I think the world of you.” This could also be deceiving however, due to the fact that we are not given all of the information about Graham from the start.
My lack of compassion for Graham Whittaker stems from his relationship with his mother. Although, as we find out in the monologue later, Graham is obviously mentally ill, he leads us to believe that his mother is completely reliant on him for most tasks. “…they slipped her mind, so the rest of the operation devolved on me.” Why does he do this? It is obvious as her relationship develops with Mr Turnbull that Mrs Whittaker isn’t as dependent on Graham as he would like us to believe.
In my opinion Bennett is suggesting that this is what Graham wants us to believe. If we accept that Mrs Whittaker needs Graham, then that gives him a purpose. He is not just a middle-aged man still living with his mother; he is someone that is needed. Without him his mother may come to some harm.
It is this attitude that annoys me about Graham. Due to his fear of uselessness he is holding onto his mother and, in effect, holding her back from her life. What right does he have to do that? Throughout the sketch Bennett tells us that Graham “needs a stable environment”. I agree with this and can empathise with Graham’s uncertainty after his mother meets Mr Turnbull, but this still does not negate the fact that Mrs Whittaker has a life too.
As in all of his sketches, Bennett’s structure of writing can be very misleading. We are informed of important information right at the end of the story, and told seemingly pointless material in the beginning. What is most disappointing about Graham is the appearance of happiness when he starts to find out that Mr Turnbull isn’t all he says he is. Is this because he wants to feel needed/necessary to his mother? Or is it fear? Fear of going back to the hostel surrounded by people that he doesn’t understand, “I sometimes feel a bit out of it as I’ve never had any particular problems,” or is it something darker? Bennett hints at this at the end of the sketch when he writes of Graham’s seeming indifference to his mother’s pain. The structure of the last couple of paragraphs is a defiant tone, followed by relief from Graham. For his mother it is heartbreak followed by reluctant acceptance. All in all, a heart-wrenching finale for Mrs Whittaker without any support from her selfish, unstable son.
After reading “A cream cracker under the settee” I felt so much sympathy for the character Doris. Bennett’s telling of her plight gave me an insight into her pain and loneliness and elicited a feeling of terror.
From the beginning we are given a view of Doris that is of a very proud and hardened old woman. But the clinch of the story is that Doris is alone. She has no friends, no relatives (that she mentions), she is childless and has recently been widowed. To top it all off, the Social Services are threatening to take away her home and put her into “Stafford House”, to all accounts a home for the elderly.
Doris has recently taken a fall whilst dusting a wedding photograph of her and her husband. She wasn’t supposed to dust. The way that Bennett tells us this elicits yet more sympathy from me. Imagine not being able to do something you wanted to do in your own home. Granted it was obviously with the best intentions and as it turns out it would have been best for our character but when you are slightly obsessive with regards to cleaning, like Doris “When people were clean and the streets were clean and it was all clean…”, surely you’re entitled to dust in your own home?
The most terrifying and saddening part of this tale is simply that Doris decides to give up. You can see that from her point of view being dictated to like a child is not what she wants for the last years of her life. It seems to me that Bennett wants us to experience what Doris is feeling. The loss of her husband, the emptiness and loneliness that engulfs her, the constant threat of losing her home, the loss of her child (in her mind it was a child, despite what the midwife said) and the unfailing pride that ultimately is going to end her life.
Bennett leads us up to the very end of the sketch letting us believe that Doris will in fact get help. He introduces a couple of possible saviours, either coming into the garden or up to the front door and finally a friendly policeman. As Doris sits by the front door, slowly giving in to the pain in her legs and, I expect, by this time further pain throughout her body from sitting on the floor for so long, I felt so much compassion for her and yet also a little happiness – would she be saved? Or would she be allowed to rest with her husband?
As the sketch comes to a close the policeman comes to the door and asks Doris if she is ok. Being the proud lady she is she refuses to admit that she needs help. “No, I’m all right.” As he walks back up the path we finally see what Bennett wanted us to see. That sometimes it is okay to be alone in the dark, because to let go and drift away to that feared, unknown place, ultimately you won’t be alone anymore.
I feel sympathy for Doris because she was alone. When she chose to die, there was no-one there to be with her, or talk to her. All she had was memories of her husband and the life they led together. The only person who would even know she was gone would be her Social Services appointed cleaner. “It’s done with now.”