John Wheatley: "A Discursive Analysis of EastEnders"

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Another example of initial problem stage negative evaluation in this episode would be the evaluation that comes Ruth's way for her new ' independent' lifestyle and that Connor heaps upon himself as having aided the break-up of her marriage to Mark. In scene 23 Phil negatively evaluates Ruth's behaviour and Connor gives negative evaluation to his own role in the marriage break- up.

Phil
elicit
I thought you was having a go at Ruth this evening
Connor
reply
She had other plans. I came too late there.
Phil
clarification request
How do you mean?
Connor
clarify
She's got a hot date tonight
Phil
follow up
She ain't hangin about is she?
Connor
inform
I feel terrible for Mark
+ elicit information
What am I going to say to him now?

Most of the scenes that are not connected with the major action, of which more shortly, follow this pattern of offering negative evaluation of people's behaviour which can then be classed as problematic.

One other kind of negative evaluation, outside of the major action scenes, comes in the evaluation slot for a text as perceived by Hoey. In soap opera terms this is evaluation of a solution. Here, in this episode at least, all the evaluation of solutions that have been reached is negative.

Two such examples:

Scene 8

ELICIT INFO
T
You did tell him

B
reply
sort of
Tiff
clarification request
Well what does that mean? Either you did or you didn't.
GIVE INFO /clarify
B
I didn't have to. He realised how stupid he was being.
Tiff
ELICIT
What about the hepatitis?
B
INF/rep
Well Lenny's in the clear. He's never had hepatitis. That means I'm in the clear. What's the point in telling him
Tiff
REACT
I don't believe you B
B
eval
Well as far as I'm concerned if it's all over and done with
T
elicit - opinion
Well what if Lenny says somethink
B
reply
He won't. Why should he? I'll have a word with him.
T
eval + elicit
Oh what, it'll be your little secret again will it? Haven't you learned anything from all of this? What about openness, what about honesty?
B
rep
Well I told him everythink that matters.
T
comment/ eval
Well it's your marriage

This had been the major action of the soap during the previous week. The problem was that one of B's old lovers found he was at risk from Hepatitis B. What should B do? Rikki, her husband was threatening to leave her because her behaviour made him suspect she was having the affair now. One solution was to tell him everything; that was the solution urged on her by her close friend Tiff. Bianca chose a cowardly route and told Rikki no more than she thought he needed to know. Now, some days later when that action is no longer the key action of the day, the solution that was adopted comes under scrutiny, by those who were involved but who did not have to produce it. Tiff finds reason to strongly negatively evaluate her friend's behaviour.

I feel that most solutions in soap opera receive at least some negative evaluation. It is this perhaps that makes people claim that soap knows no closure. What is meant I am sure is that soaps know no perfect solutions; there are no solutions that occur as endings. Soap, like life goes on and the solutions found always meet with someone's displeasure.








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AS/SA Nº 6/7, Article 4 : Page 9 / 13

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1999.05.31