“A Cream Cracker Under the Settee” is a monologue written by Alan Bennett in which Doris, who is 75 and suffers from some health problems, thinks about her present life and reminisces about her life in the past with her deceased husband, Wilfred. At thebeginning of the monologue, Doris suffers an accident when she tries to clean her wedding photograph and, as a result, is relatively immobile. Throughout the day, Doris’ situation becomes more serious as she fails to attract the attention of a passer-by and at the end of the monologue, she finds herself still trapped in her house sitting with her back against the settee.
Throughout the monologue, “Goto Black” is a theatrical device used by Bennett whenever Doris tries to move, because it is not practical to show Doris moving on stage as it would take a long time due to her age and her “funny leg”. It also emphasizes the fact that she is unable to move as we see when Doris states: “Come on leg. Wake up”, which highlights the seriousness of her injury, as she is in so much pain that she does notfeel her own leg. Besides, Bennett states: “Doris is sitting on the floor with her back to the wall” after the first “Go to Black”. This is important as it shows for the first time that Doris is not capable of making any moves; moreover, it shows that Doris has lost strength, as she cannot get off the floor due to her injured leg. We can see this when “She starts to heave herself up”. The verb“heave” is really powerful and emphasizes how difficult Doris finds it to move. The use of weak adverbs in the stage direction “[Doris] is sitting slightly awkwardly on a low chair…”, also emphasize the fact that she has not got much strength. In “This must be what they give them them frames for”, we realise that her injury is serious, as Doris states that she needs a walking frame to get up, whichmakes us see that Doris acknowledges that she needs assistance.
When Doris realises that she cannot move and has no one to rescue her, she says: “[neighbourhood] Don’t know who. Don’t know anybody round here now”. The anaphora emphasizes how isolated Doris is and how critical the situation is becoming. Here, Bennett introduces the idea that Doris has no family or friends. This alarms us as werealise that she needs to rely on strangers yet Doris states “It’s never a bona fide caller. I never get a bona fide caller”, with epistrophe emphasizing the fact that she is alone and receives no genuine visitors.
Doris should have socialised more during her life with people of her age and ignored her prejudices when stating: “Mix, I don’t want to mix. Comes to the finish and then suddenly think youwant to mix. I don’t want to be stuck with a lot of old lasses” Bennett’s use of epanalepsis in “mix” and the fact that she talks about her peers in third person emphasises Doris’ aversion to meeting other people.
In addition, Doris tells us, “I can’t reach the lock. That’s part of the Zulema regime”. This ensures the fact that she cannot leave her house by herself, which compares this settingto a prison and is a symbol of Doris’ situation, as she is completely isolated from society.
Throughout the monologue, Doris loses two opportunities of being rescued. After losing her first opportunity by scaring away boy who came to urinate at her garden, Bennett, deviates from the parameters of a monologue and gives a speaking part to the policeman, who Doris waits. This makes a greater impacton the reader as Doris comforts herself by remembering that “the policeman comes past now and again” and then shocks the audience by rejecting his help because she fears being sent to Stafford House which makes her surrender to life. Doris remarks, “You’ve done it now. Done it now Wilfred”, accepting that it was her last opportunity of being rescued. Bennett repeats “done it now” to emphasize...