John Wheatley: "A Discursive Analysis of EastEnders"


Before Michael can start convincing Susan that they should return to married life together, he has to convince his son Matthew that everything will be OK. He manages this over a lunch he offers to the teenager. The boy's change of heart is signified by his change of mind to accepting his father's view that his childhood was often a good one.

In case the significance of this change of heart isn't registered by the viewers it is picked up on in a following scene, where Michael discusses his plans and hopes with his mate Sanjay. The viewer is presented with strong evidence that what happened in scene 17 wasn't just a minor change of view from the son but that it was a fundamental change of attitude; that he would now trust his father and support his attempts to reunite with Matthew's mother.

Scene 19

Yeah he's even offered to go out tonight to give me and Susan some time to ourselves

inf. elicit
So he's really alright about it now is he

yeah I managed to convince him that I have got his mum's best interests at heart

1. Mike Hoey's problem - solution method of text analysis is applied here to narrative dialogue for the very first time at least that I know of. It provides a useful and straightforward linguistic model for understanding the nature of progression in soap opera episodes.

2. The model itself highlights the importance of problem to soap opera. The category of evaluation is far more widespread than the Hoey model gives credit for. Nevertheless the model raises the issue of evaluation as one that is of key importance.

3. Recognition of different kinds of evaluation allows one to classify soap scenes into a very limited range of types.

4. Contested evaluation and altered evaluation are key features of the major action scenes in a soap episode and the means by which solutions are brought about, of a temporary or lasting nature.

5. Detailed analysis of the function of each individual utterance is critical for making analytical judgements on the text. It leads to great familiarity with the dialogue and helps the analyst recognise patterns in what takes place. There is far more to be said about the choices regularly made by participants at different stages of the action. This will be revealed in a later paper.

6. What has been done here provides the basis for a great deal more further analysis, both of the particular text that has warranted attention here and of all other soap opera dialogue.

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AS/SA Nº 6/7, Article 4 : Page 12 / 13

© 1999, AS/SA

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