John Wheatley: "A Discursive Analysis of EastEnders"

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Susan
give more ADVICE
Yeah, well next time get his side of it first
Michael
react to the advice
Well that's the problem. He won't even talk to me about it.

Susan
Advice
You're the one that wanted family life. Now you got it, moody teenagers and all. Just deal with it ay. If I come home to another evening of you two sulking I am turning round and going straight out again.


Talk types
There is talk about action and there is talk that is constitutive of action. This opening scene gives us talk about the action, even if it is talk from the key participants. As the later scenes unfold the talk becomes the action and constructs the main events of this episode of EastEnders. This shift from talk about to talk that is the action and then later back to talk about it is a key marker of scenes going through different stages of the problem - solution - evaluation model.

Scene 5 follows up on Scene 1 by illustrating the lack of trust and respect that exists between father and son. The issue is unimportant; other stall holders getting away with noise levels that Matthew would never be allowed. This is not to turn into an actual story line. It is simply there to provide the viewer with on going current evidence of the family problems that these people are suffering.

Scene 7 is a scene of male bonding between Michael and Sanjay. This can be defined locally as a scene where there is no action and only agreement between the participating characters. The progress that Susan and Michael have been making is represented for us, encapsulation again. Some scenes take place to unfold the drama, others to ensure that the listener is up with the state of play.

The disbelief that Matthew is not pleased to see his parents close to reuniting is expressed by Sanjay as the prevailing wisdom, male wisdom at least; Michael is not disagreeing. This is very much the first part of the problem. The son seems unhappy that his parents are getting closer. Well, it makes for a good story doesn't it? So the family problem is restated, what does Matthew want? - He should be happy to see his parents together again!

Scene 13 shows us moves towards problem resolution. Now, instead of scenes commenting on previous action and talk, this scene is constitutive of the key action that is needed. Matthew and Michael need to talk, at least Susan and Michael think so. Michael offers to take his son to lunch. Michael's way of talking, his solution to the problem isn't the one that Susan envisaged. A smart viewer will know this as the father - son scene unfolds. It will be made very obvious before the episode ends in any case.

Michael
offer
You going to lunch

Matthew
elicit/ insert
Why, do I need your permission

Michael
offer
Come on I'll treat you.

Matthew
reject
No thanks

Michael prevails and eventually the offer is accepted.








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1999.05.31