Isolated and Marginalized Characters of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads

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Isolated and Marginalized Characters of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads

All the pieces in Alan Bennett’s collection deal in some way with people who are isolated or marginalized, either because of circumstances or because of their own idiosyncrasies. Every character is, in some way inadequate. Graham is a mother's boy, whose dubious sexuality seems to have caused him severe mental stress. Susan, the vicar's wife, is an alcoholic woman, trapped in a loveless marriage, whose caustic intolerance of her husband's calling alienates her from the rest of the parish and forces her into behaviour which is damaging and dangerous. Irene Ruddock is narrow minded and malicious, believing herself to be a guardian of public morals, when, in
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When this stability, tedious though he sees it, is threatened, he cannot cope with the change it will make to his life and he becomes very anxious and paranoid. We cannot help but feel his relief when he finds out from Frank's daughter that Frank is already married. Even his mother's waspish retaliation about the "chess men" in Graham's magazines cannot dampen the obvious sense of relief Graham feels. In his case, the prison called "home" is secure and it is the threat of freedom from its predictability, which causes his disquiet.

Susan, also, is a prisoner, trapped as she is in a loveless and, we feel, unequal marriage to an ambitious clergyman. In addition she is confined within a rigid and sterile religion, which seems to attach more importance to outward observance of ritual than inner spirituality. Her drinking is an attempt to forget, or block out her frustrations, both sexual and spiritual. It s an artificial life she is forced to lead, having to seem to be what she is not - a competent and willing helpmate - a subordinate, biddable woman (true, of course to Biblical tradition) and someone who can "run a tight jumble sale". Her formidable intelligence obviously makes it very much more difficult for her to be compliant and her "desiccated conjunctions" with Geoffrey add to her general frustrations. The escape she finds, through drink, then through her short lived affair with

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