European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies (EJELLS)

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Language, Power, and Ideology: A Critical Linguistic Study of Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather


The paper examines language as a discourse mode of communicating the modulations and dimensions of power in Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather. The paper explores the relationship between power and language in social relationships in the narrative. The focus of the essay is on the shifting dimensions of power in social encounters. The paper adopts a critical linguistic study (CLS) to underpin how power and consciousness permeate the narrative. The theoretical model draws from the works of Roger Fowler and Norman Fairclough.  By adopting these models of analyses the essay demonstrates that particular modal structures are highlighted in the speeches and actions of the characters to reveal consciousness.  There is lack of comprehensive study of modal structures and how they implicate power and ideology using critical linguistic study approach in the criticism of narrative fiction in Africa. The aim of the paper is to highlight how linguistic structures are used to transmit diverse ideological orientations, and the types of linguistic structures that predominate in the construction of different social realities. The major finding is that in the narrative, language is the mechanism of asymmetrical power relations which reveals the relationship between power, language and ideology. The paper concludes by revealing that subordinate groups acquire power through consciousness and agency, and through this resist and overcome the constraining actualities of the domination and oppression of the dominant power wielders.

Citation: Nwanyanwu A.U.  (2022) Language, Power, and Ideology: A Critical Linguistic Study of Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather, European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies, Vol.10, No.8, pp.69-82

Keywords: domination; power; agency; ideology; consciousness; language

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