Critical Discourse Analysis On Imagine English Language Essay

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A song is a relatively short musical composition for the human voice (possibly accompanied by other musical instruments), which features words (lyrics). However, when we are talking about a song, we can not ignore the singer who is going to sing the song and make it popular. Then, when it comes to the singer, we may remember a name called, John Lennon. Almost all people around the world know who John Lennon is and also his band, The Beatles. He already became a pop legend in music history. He had written some hits that are sung again and again until now. Several of his songs were about peace and war. "Imagine", which was released in 1971 [2] , is also one of his popular hits with that topic. With a social theme and a strong message, this song has touched many people. Therefore, it means the words that were chosen for this song are effective and perfectly delivered the message, so it can touch the listeners' emotion.

The purpose of this essay is to do a critical discourse analysis on "Imagine" by John Lennon using several theories. The first theory that is used in this essay is critical linguistics by Roger Fowler, Robert Hodge, Gunther Kress, and Tony Trew. Critical linguistics sees language as a social practice and through which a group can empower and spread its ideology (Eriyanto, 2005) [3] . This theory analyzes language through two elements, which are vocabularies and grammar. This theory believes that a discourse can convey its ideology based on the choices of vocabularies and also the use of the grammar. Choices of vocabularies can cause few effects in a discourse such as make a classification, limited view, battle of discourse, and marginalization. On the other hands, there are several models in the grammar. Therefore, a discourse would never be neutral because the writer chooses every single word to form the meaning that he/she wants to tell. A discourse always conveys a certain idea or ideology to the audience.

Next, the second theory is the theory that was introduced by Sara Mills. She used to see a discourse from the feminist perspective, how a woman is being portrait in a discourse. Although, she was known more for her woman's representation in a discourse, her theory approach can be applied in other fields. If critical linguistics tends to analyze a discourse from the language aspects and how it influenced the audience, Sara Mills sees the position of the actors who perform in a discourse. At first, she compares the position between the subject and the object. Then, she also sees the position of the writer and the reader.

Although with its "simplicity and clarity" [4] , "Imagine" is rich of meaning because anybody can have different interpretation of it. The message of this song is that let's create a world which is peace and no war. This message is repeated again and again in the last part of this stanza. In the first stanza, it is said "imagine all the people, living for today", in the second stanza "imagine all the people, living life in peace", while in the third stanza, it is said "imagine all the people, sharing all the world". The message even becomes stronger with the chorus part, where it is stated "the world will be as one". Those clauses form a message to the audience which is to make a better world. Furthermore, the repetition of the message, although in different words, but still have the same meaning, makes the audience get this message easier and then remember it better.

The word "Imagine" itself, besides being used for the title, it also repeated several times in the song."Imagine" as a verb means form a picture of in the mind; think of something as probable (Hornby, Cowie, & A.C, 1974). Therefore, imagine happens before the reality. "Imagine" itself has several synonyms. Then, why the writer chooses "imagine" in the end.


Imagine : to have a picture or idea of something in your mind.



To think about something and form a picture or idea in your mind about it.


Visualize / Visualise

To form a very clear picture of something or someone in your mind, especially in order to help you prepare to do something or help you to remember something clearly.



To have a clear picture of something or someone in your mind, especially because you are trying to imagine what it is like to do something or what someone looks like.

Imagine : to imagine something you want to do or want to happen


Fantasize / Fantasise

To think about something that you would like to do or that you would like to happen, especially when it is very unlikely that you will do it or that it will happen.



To spend a short time imagining something pleasant, so that you forget where you are and what you are doing, especially when you are bored.



To imagine something pleasant that you would like to or to happen, especially if it is possible that it might happen.

Table 1 : Words related to "imagine" according to Longman Language Activator, 2006

Every synonyms of the word "imagine" have the same meaning which is "to think about something and form picture in someone's mind". Then, why "imagine" is chosen? Because each words carries certain meaning, sense and also describes different condition, although they all have similar meaning. "Visualize" and "picture" describe about thinking something that is already clear. However, we can not feel any clarity sense from the "imagine" word. As a result, the word "imagine" is appropriate with the context because the condition, which was "peace", that the writer wanted was not clear yet and even until we hear it now, this situation remains not clear. Although it sounds simple and easy to say, "peace" is something complicated and it depends on who is saying it. "Peace" is an abstract condition, we cannot really define this condition with words and every body would have different perseption about this.

Furthermore, "fantasize" and "daydream" are also not appropriate for the song context. Both "fantasize" and "daydream" are thinking about something which is out of reach and not likely to happen, or in other words, the possibility to that event to happen