We are first introduced to Miss Ruddock in her home environment. A middle aged woman, she has never married or had any children and lives alone. At the start of the monologue Miss Ruddock is seen as being very observant as she notices the hearse drivers “skulking in the rhododendrons with tab-ends in their mouths” at the chapel of rest when she attends a funeral and is quick to complain. It appears Miss Ruddock has only gone because it was on a day when she didn’t have much else to do and hardly knew the woman and says “at least it’s an outing”, showing that she hasn’t a social life.
She is a very stubborn woman and stuck in her ways. When she receives a letter from the opticians saying she may need new spectacles she replies saying “in the event of my noticing any deterioration I would in due course get in touch with them”. Miss Ruddock is a private person and appears isolated from society. She seems to have led a sheltered life relying on newspapers for information and appears to believe everything she reads.
Since the death of her mother, Miss Ruddock is lonely and sees the pen her mother bought her as her “trusty Platignum” and it as “a real friend”. Obsessed with letter writing, she is always finding something to complain about, often jumping to conclusions without the evidence to back it up. She is very argumentative and is very opinionated. The letter writing is her way of communicating with the outside world. With no visits from anyone and no one to talk to, Miss Ruddock feels that she is in contact with someone and depends heavily on the response she receives.
Some of her letters are very vindictive and have caused trouble. She wrote to the chemist saying that his wife was a prostitute and even caused the lollipop man to have a nervous breakdown, accusing him of interfering with children. A lot of her time is spent sitting in the window watching her neighbours. Miss Ruddock thinks negatively and is quick to judge and stereotype people. The couple who have moved in over the road are young and she remarks “It’ll surprise me if they’re married”.
She watches them going out without their child and assumes they are leaving it home alone and she comments, “where do they get the money, that’s what I’d like to know? Because he’s not working”. When Miss Ruddock notices a bruise on the child’s arm she starts to believe they are irresponsible parents, perhaps mistreating their child. From this Miss Ruddock shows a caring side and genuine concern for the child. Miss Ruddock is perceived as being an atheist and racist. She has an Asian family living next door to her and thinks because they are Asian “they won’t know what’s normal and what isn’t”.
When her doctor tells her not to bother writing a letter of complaint to a tablet manufacturer as they are a Swiss firm she replies “what difference does that make, everybody speaks English now”. The local vicar pays Miss Ruddock a visit to try and help her and she cuts him short saying “if you’ve come round to talk about God you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m an atheist”. Eventually Miss Ruddock’s letter writing gets her into trouble. After being warned by the court to keep the peace, she doesn’t listen and ends up in prison.