A Lady of Letters
A Lady of Letters is a play about a lonely woman called Miss. Ruddock who is obsessed with writing letters. The play was originally made for TV and the only person who the audience sees in the play is Patricia Routledge who plays Miss. Ruddock. The play is a type of monologue which means that the play is a speech made by one person speaking his or her thoughts aloud or directly addressing a reader, audience or character. The effect of the monologue on the audience is to show the character’s alienation, because the reader can see only one point of view, but at the same time it also creates an intimacy between the audience and Miss.
Ruddock’s life because she is telling us her thoughts and feelings. The thing that the play was written for TV makes a difference in the way the audience is permanently focusing on her because of the camera which follows her every move, whereas on the stage the audience can be distracted and it also there wouldn’t be a claustrophobic atmosphere. The main themes in the monologue are isolation and loneliness. Because she doesn’t have any friends or relatives, she always writes letters to everyone. Her only “friend” is a pen which her mother gave to her and that shows how lonely and alienated she is.
At some point the audience may hate or dislike her especially at the beginning, but as we go through the monologue we also feel sorry for her. When the viewer first meets Miss. Ruddock there are both feelings of amusement and irritation towards the character of Miss. Ruddock. When she talks about the service at the crematorium the first thing that the audience hears is complains and moaning. “I said I thought that the hallmark of a ceremony of that nature was reverence, whereas the word that kept coming into my mind was brisk. This shows how miserable her life is and how lonely she is when she cares about so unimportant things. The formal English that she uses also irritates the audience, because she is talking like she is writing and it is very impersonal. Also read Our Lady’s Juggler
She also uses a lot of unnecessary and formal words which shows that she is forcing herself to be something that she isn’t by using overly formal vocabulary such as “rhododendrons… tab ends… director of operations… similar infringements”. Instead of using all those formal words and expressions she could have used “flowerbed… cigarettes… riest (she is talking about the director of operations when she is writing to the church which seems quite exaggerated)… anything the same instead of similar infringements. The effect on the audience by using that kind of words is that she is isolating herself because she doesn’t communicate very well. Before the audience find out that her mother died, we don’t think that she might have had some hard moment in her life. When the audience finds out that her mother died we feel pity for her and even more when she says that her best friend is a pen. “Mother bought it me the last time she was able to get over to Harrogate.
It’s been a real friend. ” The change of the light shows how static she is and her life is very monotonous and very boring. The time is passing and her life doesn’t change at all. Also the fact that she doesn’t have anyone close to her makes it even worse. In later stages of the play the audience sees how Miss. Ruddock is accepting the outside world and the people around her. She used to know all of her neighbours and the doctor and the vicar as well. When she first meets with the doctor once again being extremely formal and she starts complaining about the neighbour’s kid.
She doesn’t go to her doctor for a prescription or a medical advice, she just wants to complain about the “kiddy”. That shows once again how lonely she is and that she needs to talk to someone. When the doctor prescribes her medicine which doesn’t work, she starts complaining again how the pills don’t do what they are supposed to. In my opinion here is shown how pathetic she is and this is also the affect on the audience. This is also quite humorous in a way, because she also wants to write a letter once again to the Swiss company. The doctor said it would be easier to give me new tablets and anyway I couldn’t write, the firm was Swiss. ” Also when she meets the local vicar who is a “young fellow in a collar and tie… ” she tries to make herself look important and interesting by saying that she is an atheist. “They don’t expect you to be an atheist when you are a miss. ” In this section Bennett is trying to tell the audience that old and lonely people like Miss. Ruddock also deserve a place in our society and that they can change very quickly as when Miss. Ruddock goes to prison.
Bennett constructs the monologue so we judge Miss. Ruddock for small things at first place such as her pathetic letter to the crematorium and the letter for her sausage and also when she says that her best friend is a pen. When we first meet Miss. Ruddock her behaviour seemed quite funny but as we go thorough the monologue things change and we slowly start to feel sorry for her. Bennett also steadily builds up to the moment of terrible revelation about the “kiddy” with her meeting with the police. After that moment the audience looks in a completely different way at Miss.
Ruddock. Throughout the whole play the audience is either amused by her behaviour or dislikes her for the fact that she always judges people without even knowing them. In different sections of the play we judge Miss. Ruddock in a different way but towards the end liking or disliking her we start to feel sympathy towards her. At the end of the play Miss. Ruddock is sent to prison where she completely changes. I personally think that it is quite humorous because in the beginning of the play, she is representing herself as a very posh and formal lady. At first Miss.
Ruddock’s opinion of the prison was that it was like a holiday camp. “Prison, they have it easy, Television, table tennis, art. It’s just a holiday camp, do you wonder there’s crime? ” Her opinion doesn’t change at all when she is being sent there. Bennett presents the audience with a dramatic paradox at the end of the play how Miss. Ruddock finds her freedom in prison. There she finds friends and feels good. She finally finds social life. The people that she communicates with are the main reason for her changes. For example in the last scene Miss. Ruddock is wearing a tracksuit instead of a dress.
Also she is starting to use slang words instead of Standard English and the way that she pronounces the words is very different form before. “They have words for things I didn’t know there were words for, and in fact I swear myself on occasion now, though only when the need arises. ” It is also quite ironic how at the beginning she was complaining about the people smoking in front of the church and now she is smoking. “They’ve got me smoking now and again as well. I mean, I shan’t ever be a full-time smoker… ” In conclusion I feel that Bennett’s dramatic monologue sends a lot of messages to the audience about society.
It tells us that we shouldn’t ignore and discriminate against the elderly people and there is also a place for them in our society. Although the young people are the future this is what it is now so we should respect them. In a way we as an audience watching Miss. Ruddock and disliking her, we fail her as well as the whole society, but it’s not only her fault that she is like that. The more someone is being rejected the more they start to get isolated and alienated just like Miss. Ruddock and the fact that she lost her mother makes it even worse for her.