The core subject of the film The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010) is the relation between voice and power. In the first place, we have the Duke of York’s (the future George VI’s) speech problems and subsequent impossibility to deliver effectual messages to the nation in a particularly dramatic phase of history, the spreading of Nazism in Europe. This failure highlights, by contrast, the identification of monarchy with voice. The emphasis is not only on the argumentative efficacy of the message delivered, in rhetorical terms on the inventio and dispositio, but on the dictio and actio, on the performance itself. The king’s voice and expressivity are expected to actualize the very essence of royalty. This also establishes a dialogue with the media through which the sovereign communicates to the nation. While until the twentieth century painting first and photography later allowed monarchy to be represented as an iconic symbol which followed rigid patterns, with the invention of the wireless first and television later the sovereign came to be increasingly identified with his/her voice and gesture. The BBC, as George V states to his stammering son on his death bed, had transformed kings into actors. Now elocution and body language could either make or unmake a king. But this is only one of the multiple ways in which the dynamics of language and power are presented in Hooper’s film. Another important topic is the relationship between doctor and patient, namely speech therapist Lionel Logue and Duke Albert, which shows the wavering between two kinds of authority, the one acquired by right (legitimate power) and the one acquired by study and experience (expert power). Yet, even this contrast is further complicated, since Logue’s qualifications are questioned throughout the film. In addition to these issues, emphasis is placed on specific varieties of the English language traditionally associated with education, political supremacy and prestige. As an expert, the speech therapist Lionel Logue may find himself in a superior position to the stammering duke, but as an Australian he is only a subject from one of the dominions of the British Crown. Received Pronunciation and South Australian slang and accent come therefore to a conflict, showing how deeply power is rooted into language. In one of the first scenes the Queen Mother reacts to Logue’s “unorthodox’ and controversial Antipodean methods” and specifies that royals do not “pop by or have hubbies”, thus putting things and people, at least temporarily, back into place on the British social scale.

"What Is Royalty Without a Voice? Monarchy and the Performance of Power in The King's Speech", 2013-11-15.

"What Is Royalty Without a Voice? Monarchy and the Performance of Power in The King's Speech"

Logaldo, Mara
2013

Abstract

The core subject of the film The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010) is the relation between voice and power. In the first place, we have the Duke of York’s (the future George VI’s) speech problems and subsequent impossibility to deliver effectual messages to the nation in a particularly dramatic phase of history, the spreading of Nazism in Europe. This failure highlights, by contrast, the identification of monarchy with voice. The emphasis is not only on the argumentative efficacy of the message delivered, in rhetorical terms on the inventio and dispositio, but on the dictio and actio, on the performance itself. The king’s voice and expressivity are expected to actualize the very essence of royalty. This also establishes a dialogue with the media through which the sovereign communicates to the nation. While until the twentieth century painting first and photography later allowed monarchy to be represented as an iconic symbol which followed rigid patterns, with the invention of the wireless first and television later the sovereign came to be increasingly identified with his/her voice and gesture. The BBC, as George V states to his stammering son on his death bed, had transformed kings into actors. Now elocution and body language could either make or unmake a king. But this is only one of the multiple ways in which the dynamics of language and power are presented in Hooper’s film. Another important topic is the relationship between doctor and patient, namely speech therapist Lionel Logue and Duke Albert, which shows the wavering between two kinds of authority, the one acquired by right (legitimate power) and the one acquired by study and experience (expert power). Yet, even this contrast is further complicated, since Logue’s qualifications are questioned throughout the film. In addition to these issues, emphasis is placed on specific varieties of the English language traditionally associated with education, political supremacy and prestige. As an expert, the speech therapist Lionel Logue may find himself in a superior position to the stammering duke, but as an Australian he is only a subject from one of the dominions of the British Crown. Received Pronunciation and South Australian slang and accent come therefore to a conflict, showing how deeply power is rooted into language. In one of the first scenes the Queen Mother reacts to Logue’s “unorthodox’ and controversial Antipodean methods” and specifies that royals do not “pop by or have hubbies”, thus putting things and people, at least temporarily, back into place on the British social scale.
language, voice, power, speech acts, monarchy, broadcasting media, Received Pronunciation, Australian English, American English, conversational rules.
"What Is Royalty Without a Voice? Monarchy and the Performance of Power in The King's Speech", 2013-11-15.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10808/9150
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