The Outside Dog by Alan Bennett
In ‘The Outside Dog’ Alan Bennett fastidiously explores some of the obscure predicaments that marriages face. In all of Bennett’s monologues he eloquently uncovers many of the glitches and hegemonic stereotypes that society has to deal with. In ‘The Outside Dog’ Bennett discloses many themes within marriage including how far will a partner go in order to protect their loved one , and the question of ‘Love or infatuation’, are they still together due to their long and happy years so far or is it more to do with the intimacy and the feeling of being looked after, fed and having your laundry done for you.
Marjory is a previous school teacher who has submitted to becoming a normal housewife where she is looking after her Husband and their pet dog Tina much to her dismay, though she has taught children she does not have any of her own. This is something that is common in Bennetts entire monologue, the absence of a young child. In the monologue it is revealed that her husband is a murderer and she is left to cover his track but not at her own expense due to her loyalty to ‘cleaning’.
The Outside Dog by Alan Bennett Essay Example
Many would consider this monologue as poignant or flabbergasting but Bennett demonstrates these issues through his meticulous use of writing techniques such as dramatic irony and satire. The title ‘The Outside Dog’ primarily gives the audience the impression of a pet that isn’t allowed inside the house and is then described as ‘The Outside Dog’, but Bennett utilizes this metaphor to connote Marjory’s marginalisation by her Husband due to his relationship with their dog Tina.
Furthermore Bennett’s choice of name given to the dog gives it a human like role in the monologue, when we first hear ‘Tina’ imagery of her being the other woman is what is emitted into our minds which is exactly what Bennett’s wise choice of naming is used for. Yet another obstacle that many marriages face is the common breakdown of communication between couples which eventually leads to one partner being ostracised by the other. ‘.. Him sat on one side of the fire, me on the other. ’ Bennett uses their dog to create this barrier.
‘Except of course madam gets a wind of the fact that we’re having a nice time and start whimpering and whatnot. ’ Not only is Marjory a Wife but she also has to play the role of a Mother to Stuart as well. ‘It was me that trained Stuart. Me that trained the dog. ’ Marjorys position is very similar to Janet from the ‘Playing Sandwiches’ monologue. This is a theme that is exploited throughout Bennetts monologues, the idea of women having to play a mother figure as well as a wife role to their partners due to their lack of maturity. ‘I said I’ve got him trained.
In traditional marriages women were confined as the housewives who cook, clean and do the laundry. ‘In those days keeping a clean house was the be-all and end-all. ’ Bennett expresses his own views on marriage when he was a child growing up. The monologue also embraces a question of a domestic setting. ‘Lots of shouting and whatnot. I thought it’s a blessing we’re detached. ’ The use of the word ‘blessing’ insists upon her relief and state of happiness that it was over and done with, as if it were a routine that she unwillingly had to put up with on a day to day basis.
This perception also manifests into factual issues marriages face. It could be argued that Marjory was being raped. ‘He leaves in a bit then slides over to my side and starts carrying on. ’ Bennetts use of satirical humour and dramatic irony is often used in the monologue as a cushion for some of the prejudice society has. ‘I shop at the Asian shops now. Everywhere else they stare. ’ At this stage Marjory has been left subjected to interact with ‘the Asians’ as before she would not have used their services. ‘Go by minicab. Asians again.
’ Bennett confront the ongoing stereotype some may have against other cultures. ‘I thought of them across the road listening, so I put my hand over his mouth at one point. Which he seemed to like. ’ Many people in the audience will have giggled or went red in the face at this point in the monologue, but the seriousness of it is not seen directly by the public eye. In a few of Bennetts other monologues such as ‘Miss Fozzard Finds her Feet’ and ‘A Chip in the Sugar’ there are many similarities that are shared between each monologue such as the act of dependency.
Grahams dependency on his mother and Bernard’s dependency on Miss Fozzard. Within these monologues it can be argued that there were signs of derogatory towards women which was very common in the 1980’s as women had very little women power and were disregarded by men. ‘I said to him why don’t you do your washing at a cultivated time’ He said ‘you’re lucky I do it at all! ’ not much respect there as a ‘married couple’. As one of the police officers referred to Stuart as Marjory’s ‘hubby’ this is a term mainly used by younger adults or students, meaning an unofficial relationship or just a fling.
The portrayal of marriage is also shown through the use of language , structure and form that Marjory uses. Marjory’s idiolect is a representation of the kind of character she is and also gives an enigmatic perception of what she really thinks. “They occasionally want to have a Jimmy Riddle. ” Here Bennett’s uses archaism to enhance her preferred lexis this tells a lot about her character and how it is distinguished to the role she plays.
To conclude, Bennett’s portrayal of marriage, conveys the predicaments females endure through the ‘The Outside Dog’, as he quotes “No matter how sad the situation with women it will eventually resolve itself into a question of trying on. ” This may be why Marjory covered for Stuart and put the ‘blooded up slacks’ where she found them and carried on as if nothing had happened. Through this Bennett’s intentions are for people to see that all is not as it seem behind closed doors, the ring around your finger can lead to many disadvantages as well as advantages and he uses Marjory to emit this point.