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An Argument That 'talking Heads' By Alan Bennett Is A Book About The Miseries Of The Lonely, The Thoughts Of The Unhappy And The Alienation Of The Characters From A Changed Society.

1889 words - 8 pages

It was written by Alan Bennett, who was born in Leeds in 1934, and grew up in the changing times which were the fifties and sixties. The six monologues which are "Talking Heads" were written and recorded in 1987 for BBC television, but have since been produced for radio programmes and as books and plays in their own right. Each genre has its own particular style of production and performance, but the monologues manage to keep their humour and charm throughout, reflecting Alan Bennett's sarcasm and dark humour.This is a book I would recommend to friends, not simply because of the sympathy for the characters that these six monologues evoke or even for the humour caused by the character's lack of self-knowledge, but for the fact that we can all relate to these characters. They may be the outcasts of society and people we would not like to be. But they share their thoughts and feelings and the reader understands just how easy it would be to fall into a similar situation and become the neighbour or relative no-one wants to acknowledge.There are several main themes running through this book and most are usually those associated with the human condition, loneliness and alienation, a failure to understand others and a lack of self-knowledge caused by individuals at odds with contemporary society.Loneliness and alienation from a changed society is one of the main themes and it runs strongly through all of the monologues. Irene, the main character, in'A Lady of Letters' is lost in a society which she feels no longer has any boundaries or structure. In the past she was encouraged to show a neighbourly interest, but in contemporary society, no contact is welcomed by the family she has been spying on, and only in prison does she find an orderly structure to life. Muriel, narrator of'Soldiering On' faces loneliness through a breakdown in family values, by being betrayed by her husband through the abuse of their daughter and from having her money and possessions stolen by the son who should protecting her instead of stealing from her. In 'A Cream Cracker under the Settee', Doris also, finds comfort in only the past, where she remembers the streets as being cleaner and having a loving family, whereas now, she feels the only thing left in her life is to fight being institutionalised. In each monologue, the state attempts to cope with the need of each character, yet is seen as a poor substitute for the support traditionally given by the family members and friends and the efforts of the state is in each monologue ungratefully received.Mental illness is also a main concept in these monologues and several characters are either suggested to suffer from it or have family members who do. Mental illness is illuminated in the forms of Graham in 'A Chip in the Sugar', Irene in 'A Lady of Letters' and the daughter of Muriel who is the main character in 'Soldiering On'. This concept could represent medical progress or simply show the health service's response to individual...

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