The following sample essay on Alan Bennett’s dramatic monologue “Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet” presents to us the character Miss Fozzard, who is a lonely, middle-aged store clerk in “Soft Furnishings”. Through Miss Fozzard and her various ventures, Bennett voices an assortment of attitudes and values, and exposes quite an enchanting and fascinating character. Despite being female herself, Miss Fozzard shows an obvious pessimism and negativity to females in the monologue. She holds very traditional values, and sees them as inadequate and superficial in many instances.
For example, when looking for a new chiropodist, she immediately rejects an individual called “Cindy” and classes her as someone who should be “painting nails not cutting them”. Similarly, later on in the monologue she says that Estelle “really belongs in Cosmetics”. Her old fashioned outlook on sexuality is also highlighted when she rejects the name Mallory. “What sort of name is that? I wouldn’t be able to put a sex to it.
” It seems that she sees the world very simplistically, with men being placed in one column and women in the other, with no integration or go-between.
All female characters in this monologue are portrayed quite negatively, with Estelle and her gossiping, and Mallory and her fraudulent motives. Another social issue that Bennett raises in reference to Mallory is nationality and patriotism. Although there is no direct or blatant racism in the monologue, I find that there are implications of slight chauvinism and pessimism towards those of other nationalities. For example, Miss Fozzard assumes that Mallory’s motives for moving to England are based on the fact that “England offers more scope for caring than the bush”.
The phrase “the bush” is almost derogatory and quite sneering, as if it does not qualify for a proper appellation, and it is very presumptuous that it is England’s apparent superiority in employment that brought Mallory here. Yet another indication of Miss Fozzard’s old-fashioned and unprogressive values is her rejection of anything young, new or radical. For example, when describing Estelle, she speaks of her being “a bit on the young side” as a negative attribute, and she seems to be very biased and blind to the fact that if she put that to one side she might actually be a very resourceful and intelligent woman. A similar instance occurs when Miss Fozzard states that for “floor coverings, they ought to have somebody more mature”, implying that a more mature person would be much more qualified for the job. Just as she sees females in many cases as inadequate, it prevails that she also sees youth in the same way.
Despite her very judgemental and discriminative stance, she in herself seems extremely socially in many different instances throughout the monologue. Firstly, after divulging the unusual details of her chiropodist session to her associate Estelle, Estelle soon relays the story to many of Miss Fozzard’s colleagues. Despite the blatant mockery and sniggering behind her back, Miss Fozzard remains oblivious to their “silly winks” and “pats on the bottom”. The colleagues even resort to clamant puns – “the boot’s on the other foot”, and Miss Fozzard somewhat embarrasses herself by showing her complete oblivion to Joy Poyser, and remarking on the strange and, as far as she is concerned, unprovoked and random behaviour of her colleagues. Miss Fozzard seems to be very sexually, in particular to sexual innuendos, and again embarrasses herself in her lack of comprehension. This is apparent when Bernard describes to her the “services” he has been receiving from Mallory. “It’s stuff she did for me you know.” Bernard and the reader now full well what he is implying, yet Miss Fozzard misinterprets his lack of clarification as the leftover speech impediments from his stroke, and repeats dumbly the words of his physiotherapist, much to Bernard’s frustration – “I know the word. It’s you that doesn’t.”
Another example of her sexual ignorance is her compliance and acceptance of the benign form of prostitution that Mr Dunderdale leads her into. His excessive flattery is sickening to the reader but is charming to an middle-aged lady whose only outing of the week has taken an interesting turn. “If there had been thirteen disciples instead of twelve, the other one would have been you Miss Fozzard”. Blinded by his charm and charisma, Miss Fozzard is blissfully ignorant as he gradually removes any remnants of a socially acceptable chiropodist session. However, nearing the end of the monologue, Miss Fozzard seems to become startlingly aware of her and Mr Dunderdale’s sordid arrangement. “People might think this rather peculiar” she presents to Mr Dunderdale. She is now longer to the truth; I believe she simply wants to ignore it. “People keep saying how well I look” – despite the negative connotations of the whole affair, it seems to have had a positive effect on her well-being. The excitement and rebellion seems to have awakened youthful traits in Miss Fozzard, which, based on the rest of the monologue, she seems to have lost quite a while ago. It is this that gives her the satisfaction her life was missing, as she begins to stop caring what other people think.