Why shouldn’t she spit on his grave? Critical discourse analysis of the revenge narratives in american popular film from the developmental point of view

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Abstract

One of the premises of developmental psycholinguistics is that we live our life according to certain narratives that are learned through language and media. These narratives teach children to express emotions and to attribute actions in a variety of life situations; they construct the way in which the threatening feelings such as anger, injustice, or the urge of vengeance are experienced. In this paper, we present a critical analysis of the gendered discourse in popular American cinema, based on the plot analysis of 60 films featuring male or female protagonist seeking revenge. We use critical discourse analysis to decipher the patterns of the gender roles, behaviors, and emotions, which these movies intent to force upon the viewer. As the psychological research does not clearly testify to gender differences in the experience and expression of the trait anger, we would like to argue that it is a matter of the socially moderated narrative patterns, rather than inborn tendencies, that urges boys and girls to play such different roles in those situations as well as experience them in distinct ways. Our most crucial conclusion is that Western societies have developed the narrative-based mechanisms which later helped to successfully discourage women from expressing anger in the form of physical aggression, under the threat of being left out of the discourses of femininity and, in some cases, humanity.

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