The theory of Burke’s dramatism provides another view of rhetoric analysis of symbolisms that have been utilized in the film. With this, the theory analyzes human relations, culture-usage, lingual properties, and the intentions and motives present within the act. The theory of dramatism by Kenneth Burke applies to the philosophical grounds of the movie, Meet the Parents. Hence, within this study, the main aim is to apply the theoretical concepts of Kenneth Burke in analyzing the proposed film, Meet the Parents. The theory presents itself in number of different arguments and contents.
With the very concept of Burke presented in the theory of dramatism that states, “life is a stage where the drama continues”, he has proposed five components that guide the analysis of human intentions, culture and other symbols present within the drama. Burke contends that every act in every given scene should possess the appropriate purpose. He further emphasizes these subtheoretical components in his dramatism pentad. Within the film of “Meet the Parents”, various concepts of Burke’s theory have been portrayed. Under this theory, Burke bases the analysis under the concepts of philosophy and symbolical criticisms.
From the angles of Greg Focker and her girl friend Pam Byrnes together with her family and relatives, each component of dramatism pentad forms an interacting drama throughout the film. In this study, the film is analyzed through the different components of Burke’s theory, namely: the dramatism pentad, and the implications of human relations, culture and language. Discussion Theoretical Explanation of Kenneth Burke’s Theory of Dramatism Dramatisim Methodology The concept of dramatism involves the concept of Shakespearian idealism of “world stage” wherein it considers the realistic events or practical applications of real life scenario.
As for Kenneth Burke, the theoretical framework considers the world as a drama wherein real-life scenarios are placed into a theatrical presentation. The methodology of dramatism incorporates analysis and reviewing of human relations and their motives. As supported by the Gusfield (1989), dramatism is designed to show that the most direct route to the study of human relations and human motives is via a methodical inquiry into cycles or clusters of terms and their functions (p. 135).
Under this consideration, the study identifies the function of dramatism framework as an approach in emphasizing the act of language symbolism that illustrates the conception of man and of human relations. The dramatism methodology is an ideal point of perspective to analyze human acts, relations, and motives in the subjects of philosophy, political science, economics, religion, literature and arts. Upon implementation, the theory suggests the importance of determining of the following variables in order to analyze the components of human acts, relations, and motives: these are speech used, the writing, and the artistic styles present.
According to the book of Kennedy (1989), Burke exercises his dramatism primarily upon acts that produces written texts, although he approaches all human actions as essentially dramatic and active, having a dynamic and being analyzable in the same terms (p. 100). Even with a static and immutable character of a play, the theory of dramatism considers the presence of dynamic, changeable and elusive components that maybe present within such plays. The dramatism form of analysis considers the inquiries: “what are involved in the play? What are the people doing in it?
And, why are they doing these acts? ” (with this, the pentad form of analysis can be considered). Burke’s dramatism analyzes the content and thoughts of the drama though philosophical and conceptual framework. Dramatism is commonly placed alongside classical rhetoric and tagmemics as one of the standard heuristic methods of invention. The analogy of Burke’s argument provides the thought that in every actions human make, there is always an incorporation of motives or intentions. Through critical analysis under the components of pentad, these motives of actions can be revealed.
Under the concept of how drama proceeds, Burke considers the need for participants in order to establish the act. The theory of dramatism considers the human world as the continued version of what has occurred in a drama; hence, calling this perspective as the rhetoric of drama. According to Styan (1992), Burke holds that man tries to control and humanize his world by means of symbolism. Symbols and symbolic structures in art are not only typically human, but all forms of symbolism must be derived ultimately from the senses (p. 4).
Burke believes that the concept of symbolism can be applied in the context of human intentions like the ones present in the theatrical drama presentations. It is not surprising since his concepts are very much related to the belief that reality is just the continuity of the drama. With these principles of dramatism methodology, he has proposed five components to instruct the appropriate pattern analyzing given subjects under the concept of dramatism. Dramatism Pentad: Personalization and Depersonalization The concept of Burke ties the two perspectives of personalization and depersonalization.
Burke is considering the subject of personification as part of the theatrical drama. These components should be considered in the dramatization method as well. In addition, the theory of dramatization incorporates the ideas of act, agent, scene, agency and purpose that are all incorporated to the aspects of personification. According to Krasner and Saltz (2006), dramatism is not limited in a spatial sense, as if there were one sphere to which it can be comfortably applied and a second sphere from which it should be kept away (p.
53). With this, the theoretical framework of Burke does not consider the non-personal components under the act, agent, scene, agency and purpose; hence, he has conceptualized the idea of non-dramatist. The concept of non-dramatist is limited compared to the dramatist personification, which gives birth to the concept of outer limit in a double term scene. Within the aspect of personalization, the concept of dramatism centers into critical observation of the drama’s five components: act, agent, scene, agency and purpose.
In order for an act to appear, an agent must be present to perform this act within the coverage of scene. In order to facilitate and implement the acting within the scene, the agent needs to utilize various agencies that should enable the requirements of acting. The full realization of the act is then realized by providing the appropriate and pre-determined purpose within the act. The five elements that composed the theoretical foundation of dramatism are known as the “dramatism pentad”.
In every term of the pentad, significant type of analysis can be employed through the means of ratio, such as “Scene-Act Ratio” or the “Scene-agent ratio”, which interlinks different variables present in the pentad (Kennedy, 1989 p. 100). In Burke’s dramatism pentad, every component should always be present in every given act in order to acquire significance and utility. In the perspective of dramatism, these pentad components are related and form part of the entire thought of the given drama; hence, every component is associated to one another.
Human Interaction: Language and Culture The theory of dramatism emphasizes the use of language in facilitating communication and interaction. In addition, the theory understands the social actors possess different cultural and language variations that need to be considered in interaction. As according to Emmelman (2003), Burke’s dramatism considers the angles of cultural domains and language systems under the social actors that behave according to their cultural and social hierarchies (p. 5).
The concept of theoretical Dramatism has been considered part of the influential modern rhetoric that attracted sufficient adherents and influenced the conditions of rhetoric in the twenty-first century. As according to Burke’s definition, the concept of Dramatism is a method of analysis and a corresponding critique of terminology designed to show that the most direct route to the study of human relations and human motives is via methodical inquiry into cycles or clusters of terms and their functions is a loosely constructed theory (Benoit, Hample and Benoit, 1992 p. 279).
Burke in his theory considers man as an animal that is characterized by symbolic action that identifies itself within the context of language use. Burke considers language, cultural origin and the history of the agent as important symbolisms that provide the message and theme of the drama. Theoretical Application in the Film “Meet the Parents” Film Overview With the overview of the film, the study obtains the elements portraying the possible parts of the dramatism analysis. The story of “Meet the Parents” revolves in the two characters Greg Focker and her girlfriend, Pam Byrnes.
The couple is actually planning to have their wedding the soonest possible time; hence, as part of tradition, Focker tries to foster some sort of familial attachments to his fiance’s family. In doing so, Focker has been confronted by the relatives of Byrne, including his fiance’s ex-boyfriend and the annoying cat. Being a type of family that is over-protective and amazingly paranoid, Pam’s family intensively tests the credibility of Focker as the rightful man for their daughter. The protagonist is somehow confronted by the Byrneses’ interrogative actions towards him.
Unfortunately, the father of Pam, Jack Byrnes, has been part of the CIA investigatory team, who somehow brought Focker in the extensive examination. Despite of the troublesome scenario that Focker is facing, he is aware that this is all part of the test in order to acquire the hands of Pam. Hence, he is determined to do all his best to please and establish a good image towards his family. However, with his frequent attempts, Focker always ends up being ignored or placed in a more complicated scenario.
In the film, Focker has realized the virtue that he learned from Jack, which is the Circle of Trust. This idea has facilitated the value and resolution between the courting and doubting parties. Within the circle, Focker and Jack are able to foster trust and relationship that in the end paved the way for another task, which is to meet the Fockers. In the concept of dramatism, the ending of the film provides a notion of practical continuity of the drama. Application of Dramatism Pentad Act
In application of the first level of the dramatism theory, the act component presented in the film institutes the element of family versus couple’s plan of marriage. This is a typical scenario in the reality setting wherein the male is confronted by interrogations of family members, which is most commonly from the woman’s side. In this category, the main act of Jack Byrne is to initially counter the desire of Focker to marry their daughter, Pam. On the other hand, the act of Focker is to pursue the reward, that he wants to claim, which is his marriage to Pam.
Despite of his efforts and negative impression towards the family of Pam, Focker manages to build some sense of rapport towards the family of Byrnes, while Jack uses this as an advantage for further his investigation on Focker’s identity and intention. The overall act of the film does not actually revolve in a quarrel between the woman’s family against Greg Focker, but rather, the act only shows the attitude of over-protectiveness of the family and tradition that they are following.
Agent The agents presented within the film, mainly Greg Focker, Pam Byrnes and Jack Byrnes, facilitates the act. These characters possess different roles and perspectives in terms of rightful marriage and the obligations of establishing a relationship. The agent Focker possesses the personality of perseverance and focus in his goal for marriage. Pam Byrnes, on the other hand, has acquired the role of a clueless fiance in terms of the dispute occurring between her father and Greg.
Lastly, the agent Jack Byrnes serves as the main antagonist of the film that facilitates the act of examining Focker’s credentials and candidacy for their daughter. Scene The scene of the film involves the two parties, the Focker and Byrnes, under the traditional setting of family introduction prior to marriage. The scenario in the film provides the aspect of human relationships and the type of culture being employed within the film itself. Somehow, the scenes provide an idealistic perspective on what men and women should do prior to marriage.
However, within the context of the film, the incorporation of exaggerations (e. g. the examinations instituted by Jack, the character backgrounds employed within the film – Jack being CIA, etc. ) have given the scene some property of comedy out of the tradition theme that it aims to portray. Hence, the scene of the movie provides the traditional content in a comedy approach, which is facilitated by the agents present in the film. Agency As with the theory of dramatism, the component of agency facilitates the means for the agents to implement their acts.
Within the novel, there are three possible agencies that have been utilized in order to illustrate the act of the three main agents: (a) For Greg, he is able to facilitate his act as the one being scrutinized by his’ fiance’s family by his decision of meeting the Byrne family; (b) For Pam, she is able to facilitate her act of being the clueless fiance by her distinct attachment towards Greg (being his fiance) and Jack (being the favorite of her father), which has given her the idea that everything is getting smooth with the two of them; (c) lastly, Jack earns his role of being the detective of her daughter’s fiance, which has been facilitated through his background of being under the CIA profession. Purpose As per analysis of the overall plot of the story, the story illustrates its very purpose by conveying the message of how the traditional scenario should be for a family introduction in couples who are planning to get married. Somehow, the story incorporates the sense of comedy for the sake of entertainment. It has utilized some sorts of exaggerations in the characters of Jack and Greg in order to provide the aspect of their theme of comedy.
Meanwhile, the message of the story is the tradition of marriage wherein the family, most especially the father of the woman, scrutinizes the man before he allows his daughter to be married. It may sometimes be as complex as shown in the movie but not that exaggerated since the movie somehow incorporates almost impossible events. Application of Human Relations, Culture and Language In application of the other concepts of the theory, the components of human relations, culture and language are illustrated in diverse forms within the story. Evidently, the form employed by the film to demonstrate human relations is by the multi-links present between Greg Focker and the Byrne family.
Meanwhile, the culture presented in the film is the traditional concept of marriage employed by American from the past up until today. Lastly, to further agree with the traditions and culture the film have presented, the lingual use of American English – between the colloquial (Focker) and Byrnes (Formal) – has somehow provided a realistic features for the two opposing parties in the film. Conclusion In the conclusion of this study, the discussion has included the theoretical frameworks of dramatism by Kenneth Burke and the film Meet the Parents. The thesis of the study subjects the application of Burke’s theory of dramatism to the film Meet the Parents.
As per the discussion of the theory, the concept of dramatism has involved different subcomponents that serve as guide in analyzing the human intentions, cultural background and lingual properties of the drama. The theory of dramatism moves in the idea of Shakespearean thought of the world as a stage; hence, it has provided five subcomponents to guide the critical analysis of a drama under the rhetoric philosophy. These five subcomponents involve act, agent, scene, agency and purpose, which are all interrelated and should be present in any given drama. As per application of the theory in the given film, Meet the Parents is able to acquire all these subcomponents mainly through the character symbolisms of Greg Focker, Pam Byrne and Jack Byrne.
The act of the film involves the argument between the two parties due to the decision of marriage by Greg and Pam. As part of the traditional American culture in the ideal family scenery, the film has incorporated the need for family introduction prior to marriage. However, with the diverse agencies present in the characters, the act of employing intensive examination towards the male has been portrayed. Although, the film has incorporated some aspects of exaggerations for the sake of entertainment and comedy, it was still able to relay its purpose in the message of how an American family of the female treats male whenever a family introduction is initiated. Reference
Benoit, W. L. , Hample, D. , & Benoit, P. J. (1992). Readings in Argumentation. Walter de Gruyter. Emmelman, D. S. (2003). Justice for the Poor: A Study of Criminal Defense Work. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. Gusfield, J. R. (1989). On symbols and society. University of Chicago Press. Kennedy, M. (1989). Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Compositions. Greenwood Publishing Group. Krasner, D. S. , & Saltz, D. (2006). Staging Philosophy: Intersections of Theater, Performance, and Philosophy. University of Michigan Press. Styan, J. L. (1992). Modern Drama in Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press.
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