In the stage play Madea’s Family Reunion, Tyler Perry stars as the lead actor, Mabel Simmons (Madea). Madea, the matriarch of the family, is charged with hosting her family for a funeral, a wedding, and a family reunion all in one weekend. The quick-to-speak Madea has to defend, teach, preach to, and admonish her family while dealing with each drama that presents itself.
This play begins and ends with religious expression as a forte. One of the first lines comes from Mr. Brown, who says “everybody ain’t saved and we can’t expect them to act like us.” This introduction is followed by Madea’s rant about her recently deceased sister by saying “I hope she’s on a slow fall to hell!” Although ...view middle of the document...
, are some of the worldly, or secular, problems that Madea’s foils are faced with caring for. Perry makes no effort in trying to mask the Christian message of Jesus Christ in his play. Throughout, each character is presented in a very forthright manner of how Jesus can help them in their struggle. This play appeals to the audience through emotional attachment, but also through the music sung in the play. This emotional attachment and the songs bring to rise the emotions that are key in a personal spiritual stirring.
In the essay, “The Rhetoric of Religion” (2006), Laurent Pernot outlines four religious discourses: discourses about the gods, discourses to the gods, discourses to the worshipper, and discourses of the gods (Pernot, 2006, pp. 238-239). This essay will help to explain the connection between the language style and religiosity as presented in this play.
Three of the discourses stated above can meet the criteria of four gospel songs and two inspirational songs in this play. Because these songs present as persuasive speech that make requests of God, this can be considered to be a discourse to God. In addition, these songs also comfort the worshipper, which means that it is a discourse to the worshipper. And finally, these songs describe God’s goodness and power, which allows it to be a discourse about God.
The songs “Jesus Will Fix It” and “Have You Tried My Jesus?” are a type of hymn (2006, p. 237) that Pernot presents as an expression of religion. These songs ascribe Jesus with the power to “fix” whatever problem someone is faced with, which also narrate God’s deeds (2006).
According to Pernot, “prayer consists in exhorting an audience either to embrace a religion they do not yet know or to persevere in the beliefs they already hold” (2006, p. 237). “There is a structure for prayer that was codiﬁed through usage: (1) address...