How does Alan Bennet make his Viewer Feel Sorry for Violet In “Waiting For The Telegram”? Essay

“Waiting For The Telegram” was first televised in 1998 on the BBC. The name of the main character was “Violet”, played by Thora Hird, it was set in an old nursing home and she is trying to remember many important things that have happened in her life but she struggles with this as she has had a stroke and even has trouble with her vocabulary.In this, drama Bennet uses a variety of different methods to make us, the audience, feel sorry for Violet, including; camera work, sad music, stage directions (Fade and pause) and the actress’ facial expressions, these are all known as “Dramatic Devices”.

Every day Violets deteriorating health (mental and physical), also elevate our sympathy for Violet as we know that she is near death and because her everyday routine is so strict and she has no use of her legs.Bennet used a monologue form for this drama because the focus and sympathy is towards Violet. We feel sorry for her in the short episode involving Donald because she cannot even remember her own son, this is where we should feel really feel sorry for Donald because he has been forgotten, but we do not see his point of view so we o not care for him.

Violet would have not have said these things if Francis, Donald or Devon were around, so she speaks openly and honestly to us. Nobody else appears in this drama as we can really get to know the character and her points of view and we also get to know how she is treated in this nursing home she lives in.The title of “Waiting For The Telegram” has two meanings to Violet, the first being that she is nearly one hundred years old and shall be expecting a telegram from the Queen soon, and the second is that she lost a loved one in “The Great War” and she received one with news of his death.There are many stage directions used in “Waiting For The Telegram” used to add to the emotional impact on the audience, and to show her deteriorating mind and health, involving the camera work and close-ups of Violet crying to make us sympathise with her.

All throughout the drama are “pauses” and “fades” which are strategically placed. These “fades” symbolise Violets deteriorating health, both her physical and mental health are “fading” along with her life. The “Fades” become more frequent towards the end as she starts to lose the use of her limbs until we assume that her death has occurred.There are many pauses and ellipsis throughout the monologue, these ellipses are to symbolise Violets ongoing struggle with words and when she has to catch her breath to continue speaking. The amount of these ellipses also increases as the monologue progresses because she finds it harder to breathe and she cannot think of the suitable words to use.Before the monologue, Violet suffered a stroke, and it has made her lose the use of her legs and has made her totally dependent on the staff at the nursing home, we know this because she said that Francis and Devon had to get her ready for her lay down and she has to be dressed by the nurses this must be very degrading for Violet as she has so much life experience and yet she is treated as a helpless, pathetic baby, this also gets worse as the story unravels and as she loses control of even more parts of her body.

We couldn’t help but feel sorry at this point.Near the end of the monologue she has to lift her arm with her other hand because she has lost use of it, this makes us feel sorry for her because we can see how helpless she gets as the monologue progresses.Although Violet is almost 100 years old, she cannot remember a whole chapter of her life because of her stroke, sympathise with her here because she cannot even remember having a son or a husband but she remembers the incident with Edward very clearly because it is her biggest regret. The last time she spoke to him they argued just before he left to join the army and was killed in the war. She deeply regrets not taking her frock off because she loved him and life may have been so much better for her.After Edward went to war, Violet continued with her life, got married, had children, but she cannot remember anything after Edward.

She describes her son, Donald, as “not a son but more of a father figure” if Donald heard her say this, I assume he would be heartbroken as his own mother cannot recall him. We instantly feel sorry for him at this point.Violet has good relationships with Francis and the rest of the people within the rest home, she has the best relationship with Francis as he actually cares for her well being until he dies, Violet is heartbroken by this because Francis was her best friend, shortly after Francis’ death, her other best friend, Rene, dies and as the staff are preparing her body, they are giggling and not showing Rene any respect, this makes Violet very miserable because she knows that this is going to happen to her. This makes me feel bad for Violet because she knows how she is going to pass away.Bennet has made us feel sorry for violet in many ways as I have mentioned and described in this essay, but some of the strategies used word better than others and some work together like, the music working with the camera work and Violets facial expressions, also the strategic use of laughter makes us feel sorry for Violet because it makes the depressive sections worse as we question how someone can be so happy and then so sad afterwards.Overall I think that Bennet has successfully made the audience feel sympathy for Violet in this drama.


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