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Pasture management and contrasting narratives in audiovisual fiction: a discursive analysis of The Crown series

Abstract

The agrarian universe is usually explored by statements of scientific or technical genres, aimed at the specialized public. However, an episode of The Crown explores it in a peculiar way by presenting Queen Elizabeth II interested in horse breeding. The episode is the instance of analysis of this article, which aims to establish a reading about how the meanings of the agrarian domain circulate in urban environments, in fictional narrative audiovisual devices through the understanding of the circumstances in which technical terms, such as pasture management, are inserted in the enunciative plot. The enunciation scenes indicate conditions of production and attribution of meanings that are evaluated under the theoretical-methodological support of French discourse analysis. The study identifies the construction of contrasting narratives as a way of placing the topic of interest in the background, although it recognizes convergences in relation to the meanings constructed in the enunciation.

Keywords
Discourse analysis; Contrasting narratives; Farming; Enunciative scene; Scenography

Resumo

O universo agrário costuma ser explorado por enunciados dos gêneros científicos ou técnicos, voltados a especialistas. No entanto, um episódio da série The Crown, disponível na Netflix, o explora de maneira peculiar ao apresentar o interesse da rainha Elizabeth II em relação à criação de cavalos. Por isso, o episódio é a instância de análise deste artigo, que objetiva estabelecer uma leitura sobre como os sentidos do domínio agrário circulam em ambientes urbanos, em meios audiovisuais de narrativa ficcional por meio da compreensão das circunstâncias em que termos técnicos, como manejo de pastagens, são inseridos na trama enunciativa. As cenas de enunciação indicam condições de produção e atribuição de sentidos que são avaliadas sob o suporte teórico-metodológico da análise de discurso francesa. O estudo identifica a construção de narrativas em contraste como forma de posicionar o tema em segundo plano, embora reconheça convergências em relação aos sentidos construídos na enunciação.

Palavras-chave
Análise de discurso; Narrativas em contraste; Agropecuária; Cena enunciativa; Cenografia

Resumen

El universo agrario suele explorar enunciados de géneros científicos o técnicos dirigidos a especialistas. Sin embargo, un episodio de The Crown, disponible en la Netflix, lo explora de forma particular al presentar el interés de la reina Elizabeth II acerca de la creación de caballos. Así que, ese capítulo, es el punto clave del análisis de este artículo, que pretende establecer una lectura sobre cómo circulan los significados del dominio agrario en ambientes urbanos, en medios audiovisuales de narrativa a través de la comprensión de las circunstancias en que términos técnicos, como gestión de pastos, son inseridos en la historia enunciada. Las escenas indican condiciones de producción y atribución de significados que se evalúan bajo el apoyo teórico-metodológico del análisis del discurso francés. El estudio identifica la construcción de narrativas en contraste como forma de situar el tema en un segundo plan, aunque reconozca convergencias con relación a los significados construidos en esa historia.

Palabras clave
Análisis del discurso; Narrativas en contraste; Agricultura; Escena enunciativa; Escenografía

Introduction

Ten thousand years ago the Agricultural Revolution took place, which was a significant change that led humans to stop being nomads and seek a fixed place to live, supplying their food needs by growing food and raising animals. Throughout this period, agriculture and livestock developed significantly with the adoption of new techniques, studies, and implementation of technologies.

Normally, the way in which the agrarian domain is described and presented in statements takes place through scientific or technical discourses and genres aimed at a specialized public. Thus, technical terms are used and demand prior knowledge of or intimacy with the subject, which is not always common in a highly urbanized society, since about three centuries ago the migration of populations from the countryside to the city has been an unquestionable phenomenon.

The Crown series aired on Netflix since 2016 explores this theme in a peculiar way by presenting queen Elizabeth II’s interest in horse breeding. For this reason, one of the episodes of the series is the instance of analysis of this article. The goal is to establish a reading about how the agrarian universe circulates in urban environments, in audiovisual devices and through fictional narrative based on the understanding of the circumstances in which technical terms such as “pasture management” are inserted in the enunciative plot.

The intention is to explore the mechanisms of production and attribution of meanings that surround a fictional media product aimed at an audience not necessarily connected to the agribusiness environment. The enunciation scenes indicate conditions of production and attribution of meaning and Discourse Analysis (DA) offers theoretical-methodological support to infer some meanings of the discourse, understand its production conditions and propose a reading among many others possible.

The text is organized into four other sections, in addition to this introduction. The first is a presentation of the methodology. The theoretical foundation resorts to concepts from authors who have become a reference in French DA, such as Pêcheux (1995)PÊCHEUX, M. Semântica e discurso: uma crítica à afirmação do óbvio. 2. ed. Campinas: Unicamp, 1995., Maingueneau (1997MAINGUENEAU, D. Novas tendências em análise do discurso. 3. ed. Campinas: Pontes: Ed. Unicamp, 1997., 2001MAINGUENEAU, D. Análise de textos de comunicação. São Paulo: Cortez, 2001., 2005MAINGUENEAU, D. Ethos, cenografia, incorporação. In: AMOSSY, R. (org.). Imagens de si no discurso: a construção do ethos. São Paulo: Contexto, 2005., 2008)MAINGUENEAU, D. Cenas da enunciação. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008. and Charaudeau (2006CHARAUDEAU, P. Discurso das mídias. São Paulo: Contexto, 2006., 2010)CHARAUDEAU, P. Linguagem e discurso: Modos de organização. São Paulo: Contexto, 2010., but it adds thoughts from other scholars who address this field of knowledge, such as Fiorin (2012)FIORIN, J. L. Organização linguística do discurso: enunciação e comunicação. In: FÍGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise do discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2012. and Kronka (2008)KRONKA, G. K. O discurso das organizações internacionais: um discurso constituinte? In: POSSENTI, S.; SILVA, M. C. P. S. (org.). Cenas da enunciação: Dominique Maingueneau. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008., and fictional narratives, such as Lopes (2000)LOPES, E. M. O discurso ficcional: uma tentativa de definição. 2000. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras) - Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, 2000. Disponível em: http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas/64M.pdf. Acesso em: 4 abr. 2021.
http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas...
, Baccega (2013)BACCEGA, M. A. A construção do “real” e do “ficcional”. In: FIGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise de discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2013. p. 119-139. and Pedrini and Ferreira (2014)PEDRINI, I. A. D.; FERREIRA, J. C. B. A crônica ficcional como documento. In: SILVA, A. C. A.; FRANCO, L. M.; PORTARI, R. D. L. (org.). Comunicação, texto e discurso. Barbacena: EdUEMG, 2014. p. 15-32.. Then, the analysis begins with a detailed description of the episode. It is in this passage that the empirical study and theory overlap and the figures of speech, the contrast of the narrative and their convergences are problematized. Based on these questions, a possible understanding is proposed for the insertion of the agribusiness universe in the fictional statement aimed at the non-specialized public, completing the intended objective.

Methodological path

The methodology is defined by the choice of the pasture management theme, which is related to the authors’ participation in a research project on the subject – which makes the analysis motivated yet not partial. The selection of the enunciation took place in 2020 when one of the authors had contact with The Crown series and noticed the insertion of the subject in fictional content having audiovisual format. The choice is explained by the scientific interest in understanding the mechanism by which technical discourses linked to agribusiness are constructed and appropriated by the media universe in question1 1 This article marks the third endeavor in examining how non-specialized media craft and disseminate agribusiness content to the lay public. The first publication can be found in Silva and Maio (2020); the second has been submitted to a journal and is currently awaiting evaluation. .

For this study, the theoretical framework of French DA was prioritized. This is a qualitative, exploratory and descriptive research in which not only regularities are sought but also aspects that stand out in the analyzed context, for example, the way in which discourses are expressed and constituted.

It is understood that enunciative chains differ according to ideological processes that determine them since they are invested with meanings that do not depend only on the subject-enunciator and form “a set of supposed understandings that circulates among the protagonists of language” (CHARAUDEAU, 2010CHARAUDEAU, P. Linguagem e discurso: Modos de organização. São Paulo: Contexto, 2010., p. 32, our translation2 2 All the quotes used on this text have been freely translated. ) and produce meanings. For Pêcheux (1995), discursive processes are not a pure expression of thought, of a cognitive activity that would “accidentally” use linguistic systems, but of intended use given that, according to Brandão (2004, p. 42)BRANDÃO. H. N. Introdução à análise do discurso. Campinas: Unicamp, 2004., discourse “is an invariant presupposed by all possible production conditions at a given historical moment”.

In the process of structuring an enunciation, the enunciator highlights the most relevant traits according to his intentionality, causing the recipient to have access to a discursive representation that typifies how the subject “conceives or imagines a certain reality” (ADAM, 2005ADAM, J. M. Imagens de si e esquematização do orador: Pétain e De Gaulle em junho de 1940. In: AMOSSY, R. (org.). Imagens de si no discurso: a construção do ethos. São Paulo: Contexto, 2005., p. 105). This makes discourse a space for interaction between predetermined social elements and subjective linguistic mechanisms. Thus, what is being highlighted is not the truth that permeates the discourse, but its credibility and legitimacy, which would grant it the “right to the word of the beings who communicate, and the conditions of validity of the word issued” (CHARAUDEAU, 2006CHARAUDEAU, P. Discurso das mídias. São Paulo: Contexto, 2006., p. 49).

The preferred choice of DA is due to the understanding that the ways in which discourse is organized do not depend only on the handling of language structures that are materialized in the text. The diversity of forms of linguistic material attests to the psychocognitive dimension of the communicating subject, since its structure follows the way in which the subject’s view is oriented: if this view turns to the world, it tends to describe it “in categories of knowledge”, if to oneself, it constructs “belief categories”, according to Charaudeau (2006, p. 43)CHARAUDEAU, P. Discurso das mídias. São Paulo: Contexto, 2006..

Analyzed instance

The instance chosen for analysis is part of The Crown series, produced by Netflix – a subscription streaming service that allows watching series and movies on a device connected to the internet (there is the option of downloading content to be watched offline). Netflix was a pioneer in this way of making content available and saw significant growth in users in 2020, due to the COVID-193 3 The service achieved 204 million subscribers, experiencing record-breaking growth. In the year 2020 alone, it managed to attract an additional 37 million new users (SÉRVIO, 2021). pandemic, which demonstrates the reach of the productions it makes available.

The release of the first season of The Crown series took place in 2016, followed by the second season in 2017, the third in 2019, the fourth in 2020 and the fifth in 2022. The series was created and written by Peter Morgan and, despite being a work of fiction, presents the story of the reign of queen Elizabeth II.

Figure 1
Image of the instance analyzed in this article

The excerpt chosen for analysis is part of episode 5, from season 3, entitled Coup, with a take from 30’13”. Since it originally was filmed in English, Brazilians who do not know the language can resort to the version with Portuguese subtitles.

Discourse, gender and scenography

In Kronka’s conception (2008)KRONKA, G. K. O discurso das organizações internacionais: um discurso constituinte? In: POSSENTI, S.; SILVA, M. C. P. S. (org.). Cenas da enunciação: Dominique Maingueneau. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008., the discourse analyst must consider the material conditions of communication, the roles of its participants, the established tacit contracts of information, the material support and the restrictions they observe in the enunciative organization. The meanings connected to the discourse are not given only through intrinsic linguistic relations but also through their exteriority, other texts, discourses, enunciators, spaces, temporalities that allow reflecting on their historicity.

History is not external to the meanings which are historical alone (FIORIN, 2012FIORIN, J. L. Organização linguística do discurso: enunciação e comunicação. In: FÍGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise do discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2012.). Discourse analysis sheds light on the overlapping of world representations and enunciative activities (MAINGUENEAU, 2008MAINGUENEAU, D. Cenas da enunciação. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008.) whose discursive content is inseparable from the way in which the speech event that it – the discourse – institutes is managed. Baccega (2013)BACCEGA, M. A. A construção do “real” e do “ficcional”. In: FIGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise de discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2013. p. 119-139. clarifies that the discourse is given, but that it is also given based on the construction of established meanings.

The process of interpretation and inference of meanings in discourse is linked to the inherent relationship between language, history, subject person, ideology, and society, which influences enunciative production and the way in which discourses are perceived. Such a process is complex in its origin and each discourse has its own logic. Its meanings, for Fiorin (2012)FIORIN, J. L. Organização linguística do discurso: enunciação e comunicação. In: FÍGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise do discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2012., are given by internal linguistic organization and through relationships with other texts and discourses. In Charaudeau’s view (2010)CHARAUDEAU, P. Linguagem e discurso: Modos de organização. São Paulo: Contexto, 2010., the act of interpreting is linked to an assumption of intentionality on the part of the subjects.

This intentionality is related to the notion of discourse as “a context of signs and experiences” (MAINGUENEAU, 1997MAINGUENEAU, D. Novas tendências em análise do discurso. 3. ed. Campinas: Pontes: Ed. Unicamp, 1997.) and not to a well-defined and mapped field, but rather constituted by genres that imply the notion of contract in the communicative sphere.

The discursive genre highlighted in the analysis of this work is fiction, which imposes complexity about its origin. There are profound and controversial studies that seek to understand what fiction is, what the status of fictional discourse is, its domains, its purpose, and its relationship with reality (LOPES, 2000LOPES, E. M. O discurso ficcional: uma tentativa de definição. 2000. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras) - Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, 2000. Disponível em: http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas/64M.pdf. Acesso em: 4 abr. 2021.
http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas...
; BACCEGA, 2013BACCEGA, M. A. A construção do “real” e do “ficcional”. In: FIGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise de discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2013. p. 119-139.; PEDRINI; FERREIRA, 2014PEDRINI, I. A. D.; FERREIRA, J. C. B. A crônica ficcional como documento. In: SILVA, A. C. A.; FRANCO, L. M.; PORTARI, R. D. L. (org.). Comunicação, texto e discurso. Barbacena: EdUEMG, 2014. p. 15-32.). The production and attribution of meanings to the fictional discourse presuppose the existence of a communication contract in which the parties share sufficient repertoires and knowledge to minimally understand the act of language (CHARAUDEAU; MAINGUENEAU, 2016CHARAUDEAU, P.; MAINGUENEAU, D. Dicionário de análise do discurso. 3. ed. São Paulo: Contexto, 2016.).

The enunciator builds the speech considering potential social, political and cultural conditions of the one being addressed in the latter’s position of construction of meanings. This accord validates the act, establishing the communication circuit in which the perspective that life and language are dialogic by nature is legitimized. In this way, fictional discourse is positioned as one among other discursive genres and encompasses the concept of the enunciation scene.

The text implies certain scenes of enunciation and inscribes the enunciator and the recipient in specific places. For Maingueneau (2008)MAINGUENEAU, D. Cenas da enunciação. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008., the enunciator must be considered through a cultural articulation that recognizes roles, places, supports, tones, languages and forms of circulation of meanings. These forms, according to Fiorin (2012)FIORIN, J. L. Organização linguística do discurso: enunciação e comunicação. In: FÍGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise do discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2012., reveal a way of seeing the world that reflects values, beliefs, knowledge and idiosyncrasies.

The enunciation scene is subdivided into three others, named and described by Maingueneau (2001MAINGUENEAU, D. Análise de textos de comunicação. São Paulo: Cortez, 2001., 2005MAINGUENEAU, D. Ethos, cenografia, incorporação. In: AMOSSY, R. (org.). Imagens de si no discurso: a construção do ethos. São Paulo: Contexto, 2005., 2008)MAINGUENEAU, D. Cenas da enunciação. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008. as encompassing scene, related to the type of discourse and its more pragmatic status; generic scene, associated with a discourse genre; and scenography, constructed by the text itself, is the “speech scene that the speech presupposes in order to be enunciated” (MAINGUENEAU, 2005MAINGUENEAU, D. Ethos, cenografia, incorporação. In: AMOSSY, R. (org.). Imagens de si no discurso: a construção do ethos. São Paulo: Contexto, 2005., p. 70) and whose validity should happen in the enunciation.

In this process, subject, language, ideology and meanings are not transparent, nor are they exhausted immediately, since the scenography implies a process of linking in which the speech carries a certain ethos4 4 The notion of ethos comes from Aristotle’s classical rhetoric and is related to speech and images that the speaker presents of himself to the listeners. However, for Maingueneau (1997), in DA it must be conceived from two displacements: 1st) the focus on the discursive formation and not on the enunciator, since the latter occupies a place of enunciation within the discursive formation; 2nd) the ethos for AD must occupy a transverse place between the oral and the written, as these are elements that interact, since even written texts have their orality. validated by the enunciation that generates it. From the perspective of Maingueneau (2008, p. 71)MAINGUENEAU, D. Cenas da enunciação. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008. scenography is “that from which discourse comes and what that discourse engenders” in order to legitimize the statement that legitimizes it.

The scene that emerges from the discourse is linked to the discourse genres, which can adopt more open, kaleidoscopic scenography (literary, political discourse); intermediate scenography, which can be varied but is usually limited to generic development (tour guide); and, also, genres with more restricted scenography (medical recipes), which are less numerous (MAINGUENEAU, 2008MAINGUENEAU, D. Cenas da enunciação. São Paulo: Parábola, 2008.). These choices and variations are related to the purpose of the speech, to what it intends to persuade, establish and suggest to the recipient.

The speaking subject always has the possibility of enunciating through a scenography that departs from the common, the routine; as long as the ethos presented supports its enunciation, which is characterized by its specific way of inscribing and legitimizing itself, prescribing a form of existence in the interdiscourse (MAINGUENEAU, 2005MAINGUENEAU, D. Ethos, cenografia, incorporação. In: AMOSSY, R. (org.). Imagens de si no discurso: a construção do ethos. São Paulo: Contexto, 2005.).

In a scenography – as in every act of language –, the places of the enunciator as well as the one being addressed are associated, according to Maingueneau (2005)MAINGUENEAU, D. Ethos, cenografia, incorporação. In: AMOSSY, R. (org.). Imagens de si no discurso: a construção do ethos. São Paulo: Contexto, 2005., with a chronography, which requires a time, and a topography, wherefrom supposedly the speech “appears”. In the relationship between time and space, the subject of discourse emerges and is marked by its historicity.

The discursivity of the fiction analyzed shows some traces of meaning left in the staged speeches, once they follow parameters linked to linguistic forms — materiality of the utterance —, to the world being addressed and to the contents that designate what the enunciator “means by saying what he says” (PAILLARD, 2011PAILLARD, D. Marcadores discursivos e cena enunciativa. In: VOGUÉ, S.; FRANCKEL, J. J.; PAILLARD, D. (org.). Linguagem e enunciação: representação, diferenciação e regulação. São Paulo: Contexto, 2011., p. 165). That is, the enunciative scene mobilizes three crucial sayings: the subject, the world and the words, with variable logic and modes of presence.

Historicity and fiction: scenography of the episode

DA of audiovisual utterances requires understanding some of the scenes that show the historicity and discursiveness of the selected episode whose need seems essential to impart didactics to the analysis.

To understand the episode

Scenography 1 - context: the chapter of the section analyzed, called Coup, takes place in 1967, a troubled period in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Harold Wilson is forced to take tough measures to try to overcome a trade deficit of 107 million pounds. The crunch hits the Chief of the Defense Staff, Lord Mountbatten, who is the uncle of the husband of queen Elizabeth II, the leading role of the series. He is expelled from his post and because he is greatly admired by the military, the press and the aristocracy, he ends up invited to a meeting in which a coup is planned to overthrow the prime minister.

The queen appears for the first time in the episode inside a train on the way to the small town of Newmarket, where her racehorses are kept – a passion that the narrative recounts in more detail. Watching the longest race in the UK and seeing her horse Apprentice perform poorly, Elizabeth asks her adviser Henry Porchester (whom she calls Porchey): “Where are we going wrong?”

The adviser explains that the animal breeding system adopted by the queen’s father is obsolete and recommends that she travel the world to learn about competitors’ practices. From here, scenes of political, economic, and institutional crisis are interspersed with moments of pleasure that reveal how much Elizabeth enjoys horse breeding. The prime minister seeks her at the palace to let her know that he has decided to devalue the currency. Elizabeth looks intently at a painting of a horse and showing no interest in the Prime Minister’s words announces that she will be away for the next few weeks.

The queen and her advisor are going to France to visit a stud farm. In the United Kingdom, TV announces the 14% devaluation of the pound, which makes importing products more expensive. When faced with professional horse breeding, Elizabeth asks Porchey: “Are we far behind?” The aide replies that the best British animals were being shipped to America. “Shouldn’t I go there, too?”, asks Elizabeth. And the two decide to extend the trip to the United States.

Meanwhile, bankers, businessmen and the owner of the Mirror media group try to convince Lord Mountbatten to join the insurrectionary movement. The prime minister also meets with his government team to define more cuts in expenses, which indicates the worsening of the situation.

The queen and her advisor arrive at the Claiborne farm in Kentucky (USA) and are greeted by the owner. The interposition of scenes that portray the worsening of the crisis and the queen’s journey is accelerated. Lord Mountbatten appears following the bad news on television. The farmer explains to the queen that his workers are checking the minerals in the soil of the pastures that feed the horses because nutrition is a relevant requirement for breeding. Mountbatten sees footage of a military conflict in France on a large screen, appearing to study how coup attempts developed in different countries. The farmer tells Elizabeth that he has invited veterinary students to learn on the farm reproduction, neonatal and foal management, as well as herd health management. He ends by saying that he intends to integrate the farm more with clinical research.

Scenography 2 - dialogues about agribusiness: At 30’13”, the emblematic scene unfolds as Elizabeth enjoys a picnic in the countryside with Porchey. The pair sits at a table under a leafy tree observed by two horses and a servant. Curious about the year the queen asks Porchey “What year is it?” He responds “1967. Why?” Elizabeth remarks “Because, after seeing what I saw, I might think it’s 2067.” Porchey chuckles. And she continues “In terms of technology, pasture management, and the openness to embrace new Ideas, Americans are not just on another level; they are on another planet.”

They then discuss the far’’s racing instructor’s skills, and the queen invites Porchey to assume this role within the royal family. He accepts provided there are investments in technologies and asks if Elizabeth would be willing to stay a few more days to explore the training facilities. She agrees.

Meanwhile, Lord Mountbatten meets with the insurgents again and, after careful evaluation, concludes that the attempted coup would have no chance of success unless it had the support of the monarch. The queen reappears in the United States visiting the facilities and riding alongside her aide. In the UK, the rebel group continues to plan their rebellion. During an informal dinner with Porchey, Elizabeth reveals: “Today was one of the most pleasant days of my life and, at the same time, one of the most depressing.” Just as someone knocks on the door to announce a call from Mountbatten to the queen. She states that she will call back later. The dialogue between the two continues: “This is how I would like to spend all my time. Owning horses, raising horses, racing, that’s what makes me really happy.”

They briefly discuss the fact that she and her father were crowned without much interest in kingship. After a moment of silence, delicately handling the cutlery and displaying emotions in her speech, the queen adds, “On days like today, in places like this, with this company... I can see how everything could have been. The life I didn’t live and how much happier it could have made me.” Porchey is taken aback by this revelation. However, their conversation is once again interrupted by the notice of a phone call to the queen. She leaves the room to answer the call expecting her uncle, but it turns out to be the prime minister, announcing the attempted coup and threatening to withdraw support for the royal family if she does not take action.

The trip is interrupted, and Elizabeth returns to the United Kingdom summoning Lord Mountbatten to a meeting in which she demands that he respect the democratic choice of the Prime Minister. She suggests that the former leader of the armed forces should now dedicate himself more to the family. Despite his initial resistance, he ultimately welcomes her decision and appears in the final scene visiting his sick sister, Princess Alice, who laughs at the warning she received about her brother from the queen.

The episode concludes with a rare display of affection between queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip. He enters her office and asks her about the trip, showing mild jealousy towards her month-long journey with the advisor who she has invited to take over as coach. “Did you have fun?” he asks. “Yes,” she replies. Her husband threatens to leave the room, but before doing so he approaches the queen, plants a kiss on her lips, briefly comments on his uncle’s behavior and prepares to depart. The queen then remarks that she will go up “in a minute”. With a smile, he replies that he will wait “in a minute” for her and leaves. The episode ends with Elizabeth smiling seated at her desk.

Discourse analysis and ‘meanings in contrast’

The inclusion of factual elements or events, either entirely or partially, within a work of fiction does not compromise its status, although it brings it closer to the documentary style and modifies the process of assigning meanings. The black and white scenes of protesters in Downing Street shown on a small TV screen (28’08”) and of tanks in the streets of Paris (29’32”) and the closed Orly airport (29’42”) displayed on a large screen with journalistic narration all belong to the realm of real history.

It is plausible to interpret these scenes as actual footage captured by documentary filmmakers. The 1967 coup attempt itself, supposedly involving Lord Mountbatten, appears in documents that report the history of the United Kingdom — therefore, it crosses fiction with reality and demonstrates the difficulty in adopting restrictive classifications for genres since “the same text it is generally found at the intersection of multiple genres” (MAINGUENEAU, 1997MAINGUENEAU, D. Novas tendências em análise do discurso. 3. ed. Campinas: Pontes: Ed. Unicamp, 1997., p. 35).

The collection of agricultural lexicons that are of interest to this study — including pasture management, management of neonatal and foal reproduction, management of herd health, verification of minerals in the soil, such as sulfur and calcium, which influence nutrition and, consequently, in the formation of the bones of horses, among others — appears in another enunciative domain of the fictional play, the literary (in the sense of a romanticized story), giving technicality and rurality to the narrative5 5 The same words pronounced in other domains, such as a scientific article or a report in a specialized magazine, could awaken other meanings to the receiver. According to Baccega (2013, p. 121), “in each domain, the sign will assume the appropriate meaning for it. And the meaning it assumes bears the semantic traits of the various domains through which it circulates”. The shift from technical terms typical of agribusiness to the romanticized environment of royalty incorporates unique elements to its reading. . In this case, the context involves trips that queen Elizabeth takes to expand her knowledge of technologies linked to a personal passion, horse breeding.

The aesthetic and enunciative production is characterized by bucolic settings, expressions of contentment, harmonious interactions, and exciting discoveries. The queen’s intimate pleasure, portrayed through vibrant colors and outdoor scenes, is often depicted with her hair tied in a scarf and wearing ordinary attire. In contrast, the conflicts presented in the United Kingdom are portrayed through black and white compositions, gray tones and subdued lighting, emphasizing the notion of dark times and the dichotomy between the different narratives present within the same episode.

The veracity of queen Elizabeth’s trip to France and the United States in 1967 could not be confirmed. However, the media regularly showcases the queen’s passion for horses, as evidenced in recent publications (CORONAVIRUS..., 2020CORONAVÍRUS: Rainha Elizabeth 2ª é fotografada pela primeira vez em público desde o início da quarentena. BBC News Brasil, Londres, 1 jun. 2020. Disponível em: https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-52874542. Acesso em: 30 mar. 2021.
https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internaci...
). Although the search for technologies was scripted, the character’s genuine interest in the subject was taken into account.

The controversial relationship between fiction and reality is problematized by Lopes (2000)LOPES, E. M. O discurso ficcional: uma tentativa de definição. 2000. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras) - Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, 2000. Disponível em: http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas/64M.pdf. Acesso em: 4 abr. 2021.
http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas...
. The author fits fiction into different fields of knowledge, such as philosophy, in which it could simulate situations that might be real, helping in the learning and understanding of other disciplines. In psychoanalysis, fiction would have, at a given moment, the opposite meaning of reality; in aesthetics, even assuming the status of non-veridical discourse, “fiction is valued as an invention of possible worlds participating in a more essential reality than that of the empirical world” (LOPES, 2000LOPES, E. M. O discurso ficcional: uma tentativa de definição. 2000. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras) - Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, 2000. Disponível em: http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas/64M.pdf. Acesso em: 4 abr. 2021.
http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas...
, p. 39). Based on the theory of reference, according to the author, reality should be situated “on a continuous scale of more or less true or more or less fictitious worlds in which interactions would define human reality” (LOPES, 2000LOPES, E. M. O discurso ficcional: uma tentativa de definição. 2000. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras) - Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, 2000. Disponível em: http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas/64M.pdf. Acesso em: 4 abr. 2021.
http://www.poslin.letras.ufmg.br/defesas...
, p. 43).

The analysis allows us to observe the overlap of two distinct discourses that are intertwined within the narrative framework. This construction of a “narrative in contrast” reveals a hierarchy between the discourses, where greater emphasis is placed on the coup plot, relegating Elizabeth’s personal life and interests to a secondary role. This perception is evident through paratexts, such as the title (“Coup”) and the episode description: “In her pursuit of improvements in horse racing management, Elizabeth envisions a life she never had. A plan against her government begins to take shape.”

The episode’s introduction (the first scene shows media entrepreneur Cecil King in a moving car, facing backwards and then entering the Daily Mirror newspaper building) and the plot’s denouement (when the queen is forced to interrupt the trip — and her pleasure — to return to London and intervene in the coup attempt) also signal the relevance of the historical domain over the literary.

Although these speeches are characterized as “contrasting narratives”, it is observed that they converge and bring common reflections in some aspects. It stands out the fact that in both the objective is perceived to lead England to the prominent position occupied in the past — either in the political and socioeconomic scenario, or in the breeding and competitions of horses, based on different perspectives. With that, the speeches influence each other and present the dilemma between maintaining the current structures and the search for the new. In horse breeding, there is a clear need to adopt innovative strategies and practices, replacing obsolete models.

The following excerpt exemplifies this understanding, as it portrays a conversation between members of the royal family during a horse race, where Apprentice – the royal horse, fails to achieve a good placement:

Queen Elizabeth II: Where are we going wrong, Porchey? We used to lead. Now we barely compete.

Porchey: It’s possible that the system established by your late father is a little...

Lord Mountbatten: Obsolete?

Porchey: And it needs...

Lord Mountbatten: To be dismissed, tossed in the bin.

Porchey: If you want to compete with the likes of the Aga Khans in this world, I suggest you do as they do.

Queen Elizabeth II: Doing what?

Porchey: Traveling the world and catching up on what’s new.

The opposition between explicit and implicit meanings appears in a special way in Lord Mountbatten’s speech, whose intentionality simultaneously refers to the scenario exposed by Porchey about the necessary changes in horse breeding. However, it can also be understood as a biographical account, since the character has the experience of being dismissed from his position as Chief of Staff by the Prime Minister at the beginning of the episode. A similar situation occurs when the queen and Porchey discuss the need to replace the trainer of horses for racing.

Agrarian technologies are confined to the light and cheerful context creating a contrast with the scenes of conflict and distress in London. This expanded antithesis goes beyond mere terms and encompasses opposing ideas. According to Charaudeau and Maingueneau (2016, p. 49)CHARAUDEAU, P.; MAINGUENEAU, D. Dicionário de análise do discurso. 3. ed. São Paulo: Contexto, 2016., “antithesis can intervene at a local level or structure the entire text”, and it can either rely on established relations “by language or by doxa, or instead create new oppositions specific to a particular culture or position”.

The mention of the agrarian universe within the “positive” discourse of the episode serves a purpose, as it benefits from the association with the joy and pleasure experienced by the queen. During the picnic dialogue, Elizabeth expresses her astonishment regarding North American farming research and development, emphasizing technologies, pasture management, and their willingness to embrace new ideas as if they were in a distant time and space (a hundred years ahead, in 2067, and on another planet). In this excerpt, The Crown employs hyperbole, a figure of speech that creates a sense of “excess” in DA.

According to Fontanier (1968, p. 123)FONTANIER, P. Les figures du discours. Paris: Flammarion, 1968. “hyperbole increases or diminishes things in excess, and presents them well above or well below what they are, not with the purpose of deceiving, but of leading to the truth itself, and to establish, by what is said to be unbelievable, what is really necessary to believe”. That is, in the context of the episode under analysis, the British royalty recognizes and values the American superiority in the field of agricultural technologies and the need to revisit its traditions, since horse breeding followed the model inherited by the monarch.

The expression “another planet” can still evoke the unknown, the frightening, the challenging, depending on the situational contribution. Scientific discourse attests that human beings inhabit Planet Earth and that the solar system – where it is located – would be composed of other similar structures. The very definition of a planet is controversial. According to the International Astronomical Union,

A planet is a body that orbits a star, is large enough that its own gravity makes it round in shape, and has cleared its neighborhood of smaller objects in its orbit, which can be achieved by bodies that manage to exceed 4000 km in diameter approximately

(PLANET..., 2019PLANETA. In: Wikipedia: a enciclopédia livre. Página editada pela última vez às 19h53min de 9 de abril de 2019. Disponível em: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defini%C3%A7%C3%A3o_de_planeta. Acesso em: 14 abr. 2021.
https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defini%C3%...
).

By constructing the discourse around this hyperbole, the portrayal of North American technologies is associated with the notion of the unexplored, the mysterious, and almost a sense of deification. The reference to the year 2067, considering that the fictional events take place in 1967 and the episode was released in 2019, serves to distance the British setting from the scene set in the United States, further reinforcing the contrasting narrative proposed in the episode. The deictic exchange between the characters, with the question “What year are we in, Porchey?” and the response “In 1967, why?” reference the “present moment” of the utterance and establishes the framework for the use of space-time hyperbole.

The discourse presented onscreen is rich in meaning and enunciative plots that are shaped by various factors that influenced its construction, demonstrating that subjects, language, ideology and meanings are never transparent and do not remain fixed over time, given their historicity. The presence modes of the subject, the world and the words in the discourse shed light on the semantic space, allowing for a focus on different components of the contrasting enunciative scene being analyzed.

Final remarks

The episode presents quotes involving agrarian technologies to the urban universe, such as animal reproduction, pasture management, nutrition, and soil analysis, that is, a set of practices that moves from the rural environment to the screens of the streaming service and, consequently, has expressive range. These technologies do not represent the center of the narrative but are inserted in the script to help explain the queen’s attachment to horse breeding, which she calls “life not lived”, constituting peculiar ways of perceiving, feeling and presenting the world she experienced. This world, like any other, is influenced by vestiges of contextual, subjective, historical, idiosyncratic and ideological determinations.

DA allows for different readings of the mention of agrarian lexicons in the work of fiction. One of them is characterized in an unfavorable way to the promotion of agribusiness due to the model of the “contrasting narrative” adopted. Although the statement technically addresses the perspective of animal production, the plot suggests that the Queen’s attention would be focused on a less noble theme — perhaps even futile — when the United Kingdom found itself on the brink of chaos.

The episode resumes a dilemma that has been presented since the first season of the series, when the then young Elizabeth already revealed her dissatisfaction with the obligation to assume the British crown, as well as society’s questions about the legitimacy and necessity of the monarchy in the country. It is pointed out that the contrasting narrative of the episode provokes common reflections, which bring the poles closer together.

Another possible reading identifies a favorable perspective for the agribusiness universe by associating pasture management and other agrarian techniques more to the assertive and light scenes of the episode, which creates an opportunity for dissemination and approximation with the urban public. This approach constitutes a way of presence of both the subjects and the world, through words, sounds and images that make the speech work, in contrast, in the enunciative scene of the plot that is analyzed here.

In this sense, by showing the use of techniques and scientific apparatus to sustain agricultural activities, the discourse also contributes to breaking down the image of backwardness sometimes linked to the rural environment. It should be noted, however, that this reading comes from researchers linked to agricultural research, with a “trained” look at the theme and committed to the theoretical-methodological assumptions of DA, seeking traces of determinations that fall on elements that make up the enunciative scene.

The exposure of particularities of agribusiness to the urban public may also have been innocuous or insufficient to arouse their curiosity and expand contact with relevant information, as well as to have provoked other attributions of meaning. As mentioned, as much as there is intentionality in the enunciation and in the highlighting of the scenography, the meanings of the fictional discourse that permeate it are diverse and it is not possible to establish a single way of appreciating them, even though it does not fit any readings either. The Crown seems to maximize the institutional role of royalty, political articulations, difficult decisions, relations with parliament and the press, however, it allows the public to know a little of the intimacy (albeit fictional) that reigns behind the walls of Buckingham or the fences of Kentucky, or imagine what the “unlived life” of queen Elizabeth II would be like.

  • 1
    This article marks the third endeavor in examining how non-specialized media craft and disseminate agribusiness content to the lay public. The first publication can be found in Silva and Maio (2020)SILVA, M. P.; MAIO, A. M. D. de. Ambiguidades no discurso fotográfico: produção de sentido sobre a degradação do solo. Revista Eco-Pos, Rio de Janeiro, v. 23, n. 2, 2020.; the second has been submitted to a journal and is currently awaiting evaluation.
  • 2
    All the quotes used on this text have been freely translated.
  • 3
    The service achieved 204 million subscribers, experiencing record-breaking growth. In the year 2020 alone, it managed to attract an additional 37 million new users (SÉRVIO, 2021SÉRVIO, G. Netflix ultrapassa a marca de 200 milhões de assinantes. Olhar Digital, São Paulo, 20 jan. 2021. Disponível em: https://olhardigital.com.br/2021/01/20/noticias/netflix-ultrapassa-a-marca-de-200-milhoes-de-assinantes/. Acesso em: 20 jun. 2021.
    https://olhardigital.com.br/2021/01/20/n...
    ).
  • 4
    The notion of ethos comes from Aristotle’s classical rhetoric and is related to speech and images that the speaker presents of himself to the listeners. However, for Maingueneau (1997)MAINGUENEAU, D. Novas tendências em análise do discurso. 3. ed. Campinas: Pontes: Ed. Unicamp, 1997., in DA it must be conceived from two displacements: 1st) the focus on the discursive formation and not on the enunciator, since the latter occupies a place of enunciation within the discursive formation; 2nd) the ethos for AD must occupy a transverse place between the oral and the written, as these are elements that interact, since even written texts have their orality.
  • 5
    The same words pronounced in other domains, such as a scientific article or a report in a specialized magazine, could awaken other meanings to the receiver. According to Baccega (2013, p. 121)BACCEGA, M. A. A construção do “real” e do “ficcional”. In: FIGARO, R. (org.). Comunicação e análise de discurso. São Paulo: Contexto, 2013. p. 119-139., “in each domain, the sign will assume the appropriate meaning for it. And the meaning it assumes bears the semantic traits of the various domains through which it circulates”. The shift from technical terms typical of agribusiness to the romanticized environment of royalty incorporates unique elements to its reading.

Data availability

The data that support the fi ndings of this study are available from the authors upon request.

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Edited by

Editor: Maria Ataide Malcher
Editorial assistant: Weverton Raiol

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    09 Oct 2023
  • Date of issue
    2023

History

  • Received
    08 July 2021
  • Accepted
    05 June 2023
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