GCSE English Essay -Lauren’s Detention

An analysis of the dialogue between the two characters

Initially, after the serene musical intro, we are led into the classroom where the teacher is busy marking work and Lauren is already showing signs of boredom. Note that Lauren is sat very far back into the chair, her chin is out and head raised whilst she noisily flicks through the pages of the book which she should be reading. The teacher takes a calm but authoritarian tone when reprimanding Lauren for this behaviour; which in essence acts as a catalyst for Lauren to begin her attack on the teacher.

Lauren questions from which part of the country the teacher originates. Is this out of curiosity or more out of a desire to build a case against the teacher? As this is directly after the teacher has attempted empathy with Lauren, evidenced in the sentence ‘I’m sure you don’t like staying behind any more than I do’. We can assume that this is Lauren’s way of attempting to gain control over the direction of the scenario. The teacher enquires as to why Lauren wants to know where she is from and Lauren’s first instinct is to go on the attack with the belittling reply of ‘cos you speak funny, init!’ We assume that ‘funny’ in this instance refers to peculiar and not comedic. The rebuttal is riddled in irony from a lexical viewpoint as Lauren has contracted the word ‘because’ into ‘cos’ and used the none-standard word of ‘init’. Note that at this point Lauren alters her seating position slightly to one of a more combative, head-on position and that she has begun to rock in her chair which may indicate that she is building up momentum.

The teacher’s idiolect is portrayed as that of a mature and educated, middle-class female from the South West of England. We infer that she is reasonably well educated owing to her position of teacher. Her accent displays a soft ‘r’ that is typical of the south-west of England. The teacher displays her maturity by keeping her voice level and calm, however, later this gives way to shouting as she loses control of the situation, her authority having been challenged by the unruly and disrespectful student.

Throughout the scene Lauren seems intent on miss-pronouncing words. ‘Asking’ is delivered with much more emphasis on the first syllable as opposed to the more evenly distributed stress across both syllables that one would normally expect to hear. Lauren’s own accent is portrayed as being somewhere in-between ‘estuary’ and ‘cockney’ of London origin. The dialect chosen by the actress playing Lauren uses the vernacular that is modern and popular to London area teenagers. Evident is a lack of respect for the teacher in the phrases which she chooses to belittle the teacher: ‘I ain’t being funny miss, but you smell like a farmer’ is sheer impudence.

Lauren’s aggressive stance is highlighted when her voices begins to rise in volume and tone whilst the teacher is repeatedly interrupted by Lauren when she attempts to answer any of Lauren’s questions. Lauren makes no attempt to speak with the respect or Lexis that one might expect a pupil to use when speaking with their teacher or an adult in general.

We can deduce that most of Lauren’s questions are rhetorical in nature, did Lauren really think that the teacher was ‘old McDonald’? This could be seen as Lauren attempting to lure the teacher into a state of exasperation which would give Lauren the ‘power’ or asymmetrical position. Indeed, this is evidenced when at one point the teacher is reduced to using monosyllables as Lauren simply does not afford her the opportunity to speak uninterrupted.

Whenever the teacher attempts to level the conversation by indicating Lauren’s failings such as her attitude or geographical knowledge: ‘you don’t even know where Bristol is’ Lauren deflects this by use of her rhetorical catchphrase ‘am I bovered? (Am I bothered?), a defence barrier in itself.

In summing we can speculate that Lauren is interrogating and ridiculing the teacher purely for her own amusement, based on the pre-judging of her teacher’s accent. Perhaps Lauren does this as a way to alleviate the boredom brought on by the detention. Although the teacher attempts to control the situation by usage of body language (she stands over Lauren), and superior linguistic skills, she ultimately fails. This is evidenced by the tone of resignation redolent in her voice and in the way that she forcefully presses the palms of her hands onto the desk nearing the close of the scene.

M.A. Wild



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