Accessing Text through Context: Padding Conversational Gaps in the Glass Menagerie and a Raisin in the Sun

Bakhtiar Sabir Hama


In natural conversation, people do not talk in sentences; fragmented speeches, slips of the tongue and repetition are common features of natural talk. In modern drama, the playwrights manipulate such techniques so that their texts will be close to audience or readers as much as possible. To understand this messy talk, people depend on personal context and cognitive context. Simpson (2004) clarifies that dialogue occurs in context and he divides context into three types: physical context, the actual setting in which interaction takes place; personal context, refers to the social and personal relationships of the interactants to one another, and cognitive context which refers to the shared and background knowledge held by participants in interaction. It is true that any interaction is affected by these three aspects of context at various rates, but the aim of this paper is to highlight the role of personal and cognitive contexts in making characters or members of a family understand each other though a good part of the utterances is remained unsaid, and how the audience or readers can get benefit from the same contexts to understand the relationship between the characters and the familial issues. The analysis will be conducted according to the basic tenets of critical discourse analysis to explore the literary and linguistic devices used by the authors to make dialogues in their plays understood. To achieve the aims of the research, some extracts will be selected from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.

Keywords: personal context, cognitive context, The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun

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