Guilt and redemption on Wisteria Lane : a Burkeian analysis of Desperate Housewives Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/nc580r66p

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  • In 2004 after Desperate Housewives premiered, it was met with significant criticism condemning the lack of values and morals on the show, depicted through the pervasiveness of sinful and illegal behavior (Olsen & Morgan, 2010). However, Olsen and Morgan contend that sinful and illegal behavior is accompanied with attempts at redemption and honesty, making Desperate Housewives a redemptive drama. This study seeks to demonstrate how Kenneth Burke's dramatistic process of guilt, redemption and purification provide insight furthering Olsen and Morgan's claims that methods of guilt purification contain valuable messages. Particularly, this study compares the effectiveness of transcendence in contrast to the ineffectiveness of mortification and scapegoating though the characters' various attempts at redemption. In addition, this study also examines how the dramatistic process may sometimes entail several attempts at guilt alleviation or guilt avoidance until redemption is achieved. Finally, implications of how this study impacts the academic literature on dramatism, rhetorical criticism and fictional television are discussed.
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