How does Alan Bennett create the character of Miss Fozzard and tell her story

The video, “Talking Heads Two” was made in 1998. It is a collection of six dramatic monologues by various different actors, each one telling their own story. Bennett wrote a series of monologues in 1988 for BBC 2 at a time when they were having financial difficulties. Monologues were chosen as they only required a few actors and cameramen. They were successful and Bennett decided to write a second series of monologues, the one which I am going to study is called “Miss Fozzard finds her feet” and I will be discussing how Alan Bennett creates her character and how her story is told. The monologues were written for, and shown on television.The use of the “talking head” as a dramatic device is effective as the audience sees the expression on the actors face and then feels the emotion the actor is portraying in their role.

The effect of using the monologue form is effective as there is only one character so the audience can connect and understand the character better. In the collection of monologues there are no special effects used i. e. flashbacks, distractions also helps the audience understand the character. The audience also has to use their imagination as other characters are only spoken about and not seen so the audience has to imagine what they look like.Also, as the monologues are only set in one scene, for example Miss Fozzard’s lounge, the different locations described by the characters also have to be imagined.

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The purpose of the monologue is to entertain, however there is a limit to which effects the producers can afford to use however, many wouldn’t be used in a monologue anyway. A device used by Bennett however almost creates the flashback effect when describing what has already happened. The title “Miss Fozzard finds her feet” lets the audience guess at what might happen in the monologue. The use of the pun “finds her feet” tells us two things about the story she is going to tell.Firstly, that Miss Fozzard has to “find” a new chiropodist to look after her feet when her old chiropodist Mr Suddaby moves away.

Secondly, before this monologue was written, Miss Fozzard seems to have a fairly uneventful life, now however, she seems to have plenty of stories to tell the audience. By the end of the monologue she seems to have an eventful and fulfilling life. So in other words she has “Found her feet” in life and chiropody. Also in the title there is humour. The name “Miss Fozzard” suggests humour and a character whose traits suggest they are rather ditzy and slow to catch on which is true in Miss Fozzard’s case.For example when Bernard calls Miss Fozzard a “cow” she doesn’t realise he is insulting her. This type of humour is very tongue in cheek as it is used in her name.

Her name is a source of humour and she judges people by their names. She repeats her name a lot in the monologue especially when someone she respects says it in conversation. In the opening section, Miss Fozzard’s character is built up immediately with the use of the phrase “Bit of a bombshell today” which introduces the war imagery which I will later explain.Miss Fozzard’s old fashioned style of living is introduced when the audience sees her sitting rooms style of furniture and di?? cor. This first line grabs the audience’s attention and makes them want to listen.

Bennett also uses the future tense which makes the story weave itself as the audience watch. It is as though it’s happening as they watch. Although the audience do not always know who Miss Fozzard is talking about, her attention to the way she describes things creates imagery in the audiences mind.This is first introduced to the audience when she recalls her conversation to Mr. Suddaby which is literally word perfect. Her attention to detail is also relayed to us in the way in which her home is presented to us. (It is very neat and tidy. ) Another character trait presented to us in the monologue is prejudice.

Miss Fozzard frequently judges people and locations by their name. Bennett only makes Miss Fozzard say the last names of more respectable people, for example Mr Suddaby, whilst people like Estelle she talks about on first name terms. Maybe because she is younger.

When she is talking about the more “respectable” people she even uses different facial expressions and a different tone of voice. Miss Fozzard is also prejudice about age and sex. For example when she talks about women in chiropody “isn’t that unusual”. This adds to the old fashioned attitude.

Miss Fozzard is also old fashioned when talking about age as she introduces Estelle as “A bit on the young side”. Her negative attitude is portrayed every time she mentions her. Bennett builds on this by showing Miss Fozzard’s opinion on this subject “I would have preferred someone younger.The use of war imagery when the word “bombshell” is mentioned creates a semantic field of a battleground. This shows the conflict in Miss Fozzard’s life for example; her relationship with Bernard, the events with Mr Dunderdale and her thirst for a more eventful life. The theme of appearance versus reality is used when Miss Fozzard introduces Mr Dunderdale. Her use of language is much more descriptive as though she reserves it only for the people she feels are privileged enough.

She describes him as “Refined looking feller, seventy-odd but with a lovely head of hair”.This is satirical as in reality he is so different. He tells Miss Fozzard what she wants to hear “your choice of shoe” when in fact, he treats Miss Fozzard quite inappropriately, but as I said earlier in the essay, one of Miss Fozzard’s character traits is being slow to catch on so this she does not realise.

The audience however, seems to realise this before her as Mr Dunderdale says he “Could kneel at the feet of thousands of women. ” He also offers Miss Fozzard a glass of sherry which means that things between them could go further.This isn’t what you would expect of a chiropodist but Miss Fozzard thinks he is just being friendly and is quite nai?? ve. The audience’s first impression of Miss Fozzard changes when she introduces her brother Bernard into the story.

She seems quite insensitive and cold when she talks about him having a “cerebral accident” or a stroke. It is as though she wants to hide the fact her brother has had a stroke which links in with the appearance versus reality in the monologue. This uncaring behaviour is brought to light again later in the monologue when Bernard has another stroke.She says “Two inches the other way and he would have hit his head on the fender. Lucky escape.

” This is unclear and either means that Bernard was really lucky or that she is being sarcastic. The audience’s first impression of Miss Fozzard is that she cares about everything in her life but this changes their opinion as her brother is one of the main things in her life and her attitude towards him is quite uncaring, which is peculiar. However when Miss Fozzard says “I do miss work” we see the emotional effects her brothers illness has on her.This line is accompanied with music which uses stringed instruments to create a rather sad mood as Miss Fozzard seems worn out and tired. She then fades out. There is then the clever way in which the sub-plot of Miss Malloy and Bernard is introduced. Miss Fozzard is halfway through her sentence when she introduces Miss Molloy and so the story flows better. She says “Now that I’m back at work and we’ve got Miss Molloy coming in.

” This is a very effective but subtle way of introducing a character and is another device Alan Bennett uses when writing a monologue.Again Miss Fozzard appears to judge a person by their age, in this case Miss Molloy. “I would have preferred someone older”. And in this case, the way in which she chooses to judge a person’s character by their age seems to ring true; as Miss Molloy isn’t the professional she appears to be, even though she has “A Diploma in Caring” and is a “Professional physiotherapist”. Again, an example of appearance versus reality.

However, as Miss Fozzard’s personality suggests, she isn’t the quickest of people and Miss Molloy’s professional attitude and exterior seem to win her over as she is hired to look after Bernard.This is the part Miss Fozzard wrongly judges as Bernard signs cheques for Miss Molloy for as she puts it, “services rendered” and Bernard is tricked into thinking that himself and Miss Malloy will escape to the Maldives, when in fact, it will be Miss Molloy who travels alone and Bernard will be left with an empty bank. These two plots are in some ways alike, as the brother and sister are both tricked into things they are naive enough to go along with. For example, Miss Fozzard’s relationship with Mr Dunderdale which she refuses to believe there is anything wrong with.And the fact that Miss Malloy tricks Bernard into thinking he will go to the Maldives, but instead she goes on her own and leaves him penniless. The humour in “Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet” is mostly “Black” or satirical. The humour is mostly brought out in the way that the character Miss Fozzard says things as she is so slow to catch on. For example when talking about Bernard she says “I was just closing the door when I heard him say his first word.

I think it was cow. ” She then rings Mr Clarkson-Hall who is Bernard’s Doctor to as him why and he says “Probably just an advert on TV”.The audience know that it probably wasn’t an advert on TV and that Bernard was likely to have been calling Miss Fozzard a “cow” and so her naivety is again humorous.

Another amusing part of the monologue is when she talks about her brother and his relationship with Miss Molloy. “Says she likes his sense of humour”. ” I didn’t know he had one”. This is another example of her cynical and dismissive attitude towards Bernard which is amusing for the audience, yet rude towards Bernard.

The actress who plays Miss Fozzard (Patricia Routledge) accompanies these humorous lines with droll facial expressions, which include raising of the eyebrows and the way she varies her tone of voice to sound sarcastic. Bennett uses the natural rhythms of speech to create to character of Miss Fozzard. This almost makes the characters come alive as the audience can “hear” them through Miss Fozzard. The audience can judge and learn more about the characters described by the way in which they speak. This helps us to learn more about Miss Fozzard’s character.Another way in which Bennett brings the characters alive is by the exaggeration in Miss Fozzard’s face when she exaggerates a situation. For example when in the monologue she finds Bernard looking at the atlas and she says “What are you doing in the dark?! ” Her face becomes angry as she recalls the incident and remembers the emotion she felt at the time.

When she is telling us how Bernard responds, “Looking up the Maldive islands”. She uses a grumpy, insensitive voice which seems to be her opinion of him as a person. Another example of this is when she is talking about Mr Dunderdale.

She uses a deep voice and it is rather like the way she describes him “Manly, yet refined” This is an excellent way of giving the audience an insight into Miss Fozzard’s character as we see the characters she describes from her viewpoint and we can also build up a pretty clear picture of her opinions of each character. The actress also seems to change position when talking about each character, for example when talking about Mr Dunderdale she puts her head down. It is almost as if she is stepping into the characters “shoes”.This is also used with camera angles when portraying Miss Fozzard’s mood. When she is happy, the camera is further away, but when her speech becomes gloomier, the camera moves closer towards her face.

These close-ups help the audience to understand her feelings as her facial expressions become more visible. As the story goes on, the audience become aware that all is not what is seems with Miss Fozzard and Mr Dunderdale. There is a great deal of innuendo between the two of them and the audience start to think something sexual is going on during their appointments.For example “Now if those Wellingtons are comfy I just want you… to mark time on my bottom.

” There is nothing sexual mentioned but the audience is aware that there is something going on. Miss Fozzard’s naivety is again brought to light as she looks down on people and is quick to judge but in her own case doesn’t realise what she is doing is morally wrong. This is another example of her being “unworldly”. The people she looks down on, such as Estelle, even know the truth for example when Miss Fozzard tells her what she has got up to with Mr Dunderdale she says “Ooh still waters! Miss Fozzard doesn’t realise it was a mistake to tell others about this until it is too late.

The audience is again made to laugh at Miss Fozzard’s hardships. This again introduces the black comedy aspect of the monologue. Miss Fozzard is almost being paid to have a life which makes the audience feel sorry for her because she needs the money. However she continues to “skirt around the word” and obscures what is really going on.

In conclusion to the question “How does Alan Bennett create the character of Miss Fozzard and tell her story? I feel that Alan Bennett effectively portrays the character of Miss Fozzard through her personality and traits.This means the character is easy for the audience to relate to and this, accompanied with the language used and the facial expressions and the tone of voices of the unseen characters used by Patricia Routledge (the actress) creates a successful character. I think her characters exterior seems boring to someone who takes a first glance, but as you get to know her throughout the monologue her character evolves into someone interesting and funny.

If I was a member of the audience I think I would find Miss Fozzard inoffensive and quite eccentric. However, I think these qualities in a person are often amusing, as we frequently find in the monologue, and her prejudice views may be at times questionable, but are mostly harmless and funny. The audience would feel that this is only due to Miss Fozzard’s old fashioned manner and this is what she has been brought up to think. Overall, her character is excellently created and brought to life and I enjoyed the monologue.