How does Bennett use dramatic techniques to characterise his speakers in ‘talking heads 2’?

Talking heads is a series of monologues that are aimed for working to middle class, middle aged adults. The monologues try to make you have sympathy for the characters even if they have done something wrong. This is to show how they think and we feel more open to other people with the same problems.

In ‘Playing Sandwiches’, Wilfred starts out as a normal, working class man that seems very nice and smart. This shows that actually, on the outside, he is a normal, well-educated person. Throughout the monologue we realise, by the use of dramatic techniques, that Wilfred has something wrong with him or that something weird is happening in his environment that he is not telling us about.

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My initial impressions of Wilfred start out as him being a normal, working class man. Alan Bennett achieves this by making him wear smart clothes, well shaved and he has a pleasant face. We see him working as a park attendant, wearing his park attendant uniform which shows he has a job and he talks about his wife and his family, these make us feel open to him. He has lighting all around him and a nice tone of voice that makes the audience certain he is nice.

Narrative clues are given throughout the monologue, such as when his family are looking for a godfather they say ‘No, Wilfred wouldn’t be a possible solution because…’ and Janet looks at her ‘…because they’re not currently motorised’. This shows that they know something about Wilfred that the reader doesn’t because it is a lame excuse and we start to get suspicious of Wilfred. This is reinforced by the ‘Janet looks at her’ and the ellipsis that indicate that Yvonne has hesitated and had to think about her response. It is obvious that this is just an excuse but that the real reason is hidden from the viewer.

At the end of the story, Wilfred gives in to his wanting of Samantha because he is depressed from loosing his job and needs to let his anger out somehow. We discover that actually Wilfred is a paedophile that has been lying to his entourage about his name, his previous jobs and has been thinking of Samantha as a being of equal age even though she is a seven year old. Alan Bennett makes you feel sad for Wilfred because he writes like if Wilfred doesn’t want to do anything to Samantha (‘It was the rain that did it because I’d been giving the bandstand a wide berth all week’) but he can’t control himself (‘She knew what she was doing. She must have known what she was doing.’) Wilfred says ‘It’s the one bit of my life that feels right and it’s that bit that’s wrong.’ This shows that for him it’s a normal thing and that he did Samantha a favour and that he didn’t actually want to hurt her.

I think Allan Bennett wants the reader to feel sympathy for Wilfred. I think this because it is from Wilfred’s perspective and Wilfred deeply feels that what he is doing is right but everyone is telling him that its wrong so he tries to stop it. In the end he blames the weather when actually it has nothing to do with it, he gives in to Samantha because he is depressed. This shows that he has a mind of a child and doesn’t want to accept that what he is doing is wrong.

Allan Bennett uses some same techniques of foreshadowing in different stories and sometimes the character’s are based on the same ideas like in ‘Playing Sandwiches’ and ‘The Outside Dog’ because they are both cleaners (Wilfred is a park attendant and Marjory is a housewife), have an obsession (Wilfred for girls and Marjory for cleaning), both ordinary people, start off the monologue happy and end it depressed or sad, look down on certain people, mention racism at one point in the monologue, different from their partners, both isolated, working class, wear every day clothes, look at the camera at certain moments in their speech and the both break down in the end or want to cry.

I think the message Bennett wants to pass on to the viewers, is that criminals or people with slightly abnormal behaviour or way of thinking, are around us all the time without us realising. Bennett wants the viewer to have a certain amount of sympathy for these people and feel open to them. We should learn to accept them in our society but also help them out of their habits so that they can be accepted easier in other societies as well.

Bennett has written these monologues in order for certain people to recognise their problems. He also wrote them so that people can identify a problem a friend or relative has and manage to help him/her more. This would be because he/she would understand them better after watching the monologues written by Bennett. Another reason that he created these texts was so that we forget the general idea of “if someone did something bad then they must be bad as well” and learn to accept differences.

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