This new environment is completely different from her home life. Miss Ruddock seems content. For the first time throughout the monologue she admits “I’m so happy”. She has plenty to do and has made many new friends, something she never had before. The women she has befriended laugh at her and when they comment on her not minding being in prison she replies “prison! This is the first taste of freedom I’ve had in years”. Miss Ruddock spends her time learning new skills like bookbinding and dressmaking and has completed a secretarial course.
She still enjoys writing letters but can’t find time to keep her diary up to date and says “I’m three days behind I’m that busy”. She has a much more positive outlook on life and the future and believes that prison is “geared up to new horizons” and also mentions that she would like “a little job in an office somewhere” using the new skills she has learnt. Miss Ruddock shares a room with a woman called Bridget and feels needed. She enjoys looking after people as she sits and holds Bridget’s hand when she has nightmares. As well as learning new practical skills, Bridget teaches her about life.
Bridget tells her about men and takes her through the procedures of sex, something she knew nothing about and she sees the whole philosophy of the place is “acquiring skills” and that “it’s nice have another string to your bow”. Miss Ruddock has become much more accepting towards others and is mixing with younger people. She is living with women who have committed crimes and she doesn’t judge them she accepts them for who they are. Miss Ruddock comments that Bridget “did away with her kiddy, accidentally, when she was drunk and upset”, and this doesn’t seem to bother her at all.
Alan Bennett uses a variety of techniques in the monologue, including irony. Miss Ruddock is very judgemental. She mentions that prison, “is just a holiday camp” and then we find Miss Ruddock there herself. Her home life appeared more like prison as she sat in her room and spent much of the day looking through the window. Prison gives Miss Ruddock a new lease of life. She makes friends and is no longer letter writing anymore which was the main focus of her life after the death of her mother.
She even lets people call her Irene, something she wouldn’t let anyone do before after the death of her mother. In the past, Miss Ruddock was always concerned about the welfare of children and people doing things to them. In prison the type of people she has criticised previously, she befriends, women like Bridget who had been a prostitute and even killed her child. She didn’t like people smoking and then she smokes herself in prison. Another technique used is tragedy. It is sad that Miss Ruddock has lost her mother and is alone, and that a woman of her age ends up in prison.
Other tragic incidents include the death of a child. There is also the use of humour in the monologue. Miss Ruddock finds a hair in the sausage she’s bought, sticking it under a bit of sellotape, she sends it to the manufacturer with a letter of complaint. Miss Ruddock has never sworn and when she does and gets in wrong the women in prison scream with laughter. I enjoyed both listening to, and reading the monologue by Alan Bennett. The techniques Bennett uses keeps the reader interested throughout the monologue as we see Miss Ruddock’s character changing.