Bed Among the Lentils

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Student Name: Student No: Course: Lecturer: Subject: Date: Grace Pavey PAV10137547 Access to HE Sarah/Vicci English Literature 31 May 2011 Critical Analysis of Bed Among the Lentils Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads 1 (BBC, 1987) has become not only a contemporary television classic, but his monologues clearly have literary worth. Bed Among the Lentils (Series 1- BBC, 1987) presents an unhappy and dissatisfied vicar’s wife, whose hidden thoughts, attitude and unfulfilled aspirations are revealed through her narration about the church and its members, her husband, and her affair with an Indian grocer. Apparently, Bennett’s idea for Bed Among the Lentils came from one his many childhood experiences of the church: he found ‘Get lost, Jesus’ written in ‘tiny, timid letters’ 2 in hymn book in the chapel of Giggleswick School. This essay will focus on the themes of religion, isolation and failure. It is relevant to examine the salient features of the language he has ascribed to his protagonist, the comic technique he has employed in this monologue, and character analysis of Susan, acted by Maggie Smith in the television production. The opening line of the monologue is instantly humorous: “Geoffrey's bad enough but I'm glad I wasn't married to Jesus.” The bathos 3 establishes the comic natures of the monologue. By comparing her husband Geoffrey to Jesus, Susan makes gives a cutting remark about the mortal and the divine. Another example of bathos is when she talks about putting money in the plate which is “symbol of everything in our lives we are offering to God, and that includes our sex. I could only find 10p.” (p70) a ridiculous comparison between giving yourself wholeheartedly to God and a few pennies, and when Susan even suggests replacing the missing communion wine with Benylin: a cough mixture instead of a sacramental wine: “…..if Jesus is all he’s cracked up to be
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