The play represents how the elderly are coping in today’s society and how stereotypes and prejudice can damage them and visa versa. The whole play is set in the living room and hall of Doris’ house because she has fallen when attempting to dust an old photograph. She has an obsession with cleanliness and hygiene and does not believe that Zulema does a good enough job. Zulema is a “home help” lady from the elderly home of Stafford House who helps elderly people who are alone and incapable of doing everyday jobs around the home.
Doris is annoyed with Zulema because she seems to think she is strong and thinks she can cope alone when really she can’t and she doesn’t want to face defeat. Zulema is one of the reasons why she tends to stereotype younger people and believes them to be rude, annoying and young people in today’s society not up to her high standards. Doris does not approve of Zulema coming, because admitting she needs Zulema would mean forfeiting her independence.
Because of the fact Doris can’t dust Zulema holds the threat of “Stafford house” over her, which is the local old peoples home “you’d be better in Stafford house” , this shows that Zulema wants Doris to be under someone else’s control. This is showing that this is Doris’s perception of Zulema. Throughout the monologue Doris shows that she is obsessive about cleaning, she does not believe that Zulema cleans to her standard, “she doesn’t dust, she half dusts” therefore she takes it upon herself to do it, even though it has been “forbidden” by Zulema.
Most probably in Doris’ case, even if Zulema had cleaned thoroughly, it would not be good enough for Doris because accepting that Zulema can do it would mean that she would not have to do it, therefore taking away her independence. When Doris and Wilfred were younger they were said to have had a baby which died at birth, when the baby had died the nurse had rapped it up in newspaper, and in Doris’ eyes she associated this with being “dirty”. This reveals how Doris does not want her child to have anything to do with anything dirty, even though it is dead, showing her concern.
Doris did not want to allow her husband Wilfred to have any hobbies which may involve mess. She is very concerned about what other people may think about her not being absolutely spotless, for example when the leaves from next door blew into her garden, “I ought to put a sign on the gate, not my leaves” this shows how much other peoples opinions matter to Doris, showing that she is neurotic. She believes everything would be much better if it was hygienic and wanted Wilfred just to concrete the garden so it would be easy to keep clean, this shows again her fear that other people will think that she is not hygienic.
While Doris is on the floor after her fall, she is looking at the wedding photo of her and Wilfred, lying cracked on the floor. She talks to the photograph of Wilfred, showing how she feels lonely, and she was no one else to talk to. Doris seems to be happier in the past then she is in the present, this could be for several reasons for this, for instance the fact that back then she was total independent and the “ruler of the roost” so to speak, and she did not need a “home help”.
Like the wedding photo, props are a big part of the play as there are many mentioned throughout. Some props were seen and talked about in the play; others were only described to us. For example, the pram is used as a prop even though it is not there. In the play, she looks to her right where an empty space is. She says “This is where we had the pram”. This shows us that Doris always thinks about it with emotion. She is looking back at her past and thinking how much a part of her life it was.