SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.60 issue2NP van Wyk Louw's ideal of justiceRelativisation in the poetry of NP van Wyk Louw author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


BOTHA, Willem J. The deed reveals (im)morality. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.2, pp.366-379. ISSN 2224-7912.

In the dramas of NP van Wyk Louw the deed manifests itself in different ways, which probably is the reason why most literary critics, after the publication of the drama Germanicus in 1956, considered the main character, Germanicus, to be very passive. Accordingly, the merits of the drama were called into question. Their criticism centred on their judgement of the nature of the concept DEED (revealed as a derived noun deed from the verb to do). Traditionally, the meaning of the Afrikaans verb doen ("to do") is regarded to be so general that its meaning can be seen as "empty". The lexical item deed ("daad"), as a noun derived from the verb to do, can therefore be judged in a similar way. In this discussion, the semantic contents of the polysemous meanings of the noun deed are examined against the background of the drama Germanicus, which was created as a conceptual blend of three different historical sources and an imagined world. A distinction is drawn between four different senses of the noun deed, typographically represented as deeda (referring to accomplished non-specific actions, frequently contrasted with the lexical item word and with the implication of a result), deedb (referring to accomplished specific actions of force with a possible victim as a result), deedc (vague non-specific physical, mental or other kinds of deed, actually denoting the concept [category] DEED) and deedd (metaphorical extensions of the lexical item deed). Against the background of the drama Germanicus the different senses of the lexical item are exemplified. According to Langacker (1990:5), one of the foundational claims of cognitive semantics is that the meaning of an expression cannot be reduced to an objective characterisation of the situation described. For that reason, the conceptualiser chooses how to construe the situation and portray it. In the context of Germanicus different characters construe the concept DEED objectively, meaning that the lexical item deed is "salient by virtue of being placed onstage as the focus of attention" (Langacker 1990:7). In this regard it is shown that the sense of deeda as an accomplished non-specific action, contrasted with the lexical item word and with the implication of a result, occurs in many conversations, specifically when Germanicus is involved. The discussion furthermore discloses that the sense of deedb (referring to accomplished specific actions of force with possible victims as a result) is mostly construed subjectively and is implicit and non-salient in certain speech acts that refer to future acts expected from Germanicus. The use of the lexical item deed in its metaphorical use is also discussed. In the discussion of the moral dimensions of the deed, the metaphor for morality is scrutinised. The moral conflict that Germanicus experiences with regard to the choices he has to make between two different kinds of expectations is viewed against the metaphor of morality. It is shown that the intricacies of instruments of the deed and moral justification, subjectively woven into the senses of specific explicit and implicit deeds, complicate the conceptualisation of the deed and morality - and in the context of the drama Germanicus they ultimately lead to the fatal choice that Germanicus makes/has to make. Finally it is shown that the conceptual relationship of the concept DEED with other prominent concepts in the drama - concepts that are intimately linked to the experience of morality - in effect discloses a conceptual morality network within the drama. In view of this conceptual network of morality, and its intertwined relationship with different manifestations of the deed in the context of the drama Germanicus, it is concluded that Germanicus was not in any position to make a moral choice.

Keywords : concept; deed; objective; subjective; morality; construal; blend; Germanicus; Tiberius.

        · abstract in Afrikaans     · text in Afrikaans     · Afrikaans ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License