An Act of Kindness

Frame Analysis a way of looking to see how a situation is defined, and how that shapes the audience, highlighting the inevitable biases in all storytelling. This analysis asks the critic: what is included and excluded in the story? What is emphasized and downplayed in the story? How does the story formally play out?

According to C. Wesley Buerkle, rejection frames (burlesque, satire, elegy) are methods of responding to an event. Each of the rejection frames justifies turning from the current social order because it is faulty beyond correction. Bastille’s “An Act of Kindness” uses selective vocabulary to discuss its story. In this story, Dan Smith describes someone showing him an “act of kindness.”

An act of kindness

Is what you show to me

None more than I can take

Oh none more than I can take

Kindness is what you showed to me

It holds me ’til I ache

Overflow, and start to break

The story takes place from Dan’s point of view: the kindness that was shown to him throws him by surprise. He feels as though he must give something in return in order to be on equal standing with this person. I wish we were given some clue as to what the “act” was. It must have been something that made him feel special. Dan makes sure to include how he feels.

Oh, I got a feeling this’ll shake me down

Oh, I’m kind of hoping this will turn me round

Perhaps he wants to be inspired by the generosity shown to him. He wants to be the type of person that will pass on the good fortune. However, as any other over-thinker would do, rather than doing what you say you will do, you allow your anxiety torment your mind. This “turn of a camera” change details the perspective.

And now it follows me every day

And now it follows me every day

And now it follows me every day

The chorus serves as an emphasis that Dan will not forget what has been done for him. He, however, begins to feel guilty the more he dwells on the matter.

Oh, my back’s up against the wall

I feel guilty, I feel guilty

And you want nothing in return

I feel guilty, I feel guilty

This story allows me to believe that Bastille wants us to see Dan as elegy. The frame elegy describes a character as passive. They are resigned to a situation and tend to claim victimhood. As I have explained earlier in my post, he will not take action as comic would. The guilt that he feels has consumed him to a point where he feels “up against the wall.” Because the other person expects nothing from him, he is caught off guard. He feels unworthy. What was once an “act of kindness” has now turned into a heavy burden. It is almost as though Dan wishes it had never happened so that he wouldn’t have to bear an overwhelming cloak of shame.

Fun Fact: Bastille describes this song as their most “positive” on the album.


Buerkle, C. Wesley, Michael E Mayer, and Clark D Olson. “Our Hero the Buffoon: Contradictory and Concurrent Burkean Framing of Arizona Governor Evan Mecham.” Western Journal of Communication, 67.2 (2003): 187-206.


6 thoughts on “An Act of Kindness

  1. Although this song at first glace comes off as a Dan as an elegy character so you think that Bastille intended it to come across a different way because they do consider it one of their most positive songs? The article you linked says, “The most positive is a song called An Act Of Kindness, about how people can do amazing things in sad situations. But it’s still dark. That’s just the juxtaposition within our music.” You could try and argue that there is a push and pull between elegy and epic framing. Could be weird and difficult but I see it working! You could use lines like, “It caught me by surprise in this town of glass and eyes, Kindness, so many people pass me by, But you warm me to my core and you left me wanting more.” At this moment Dan could be seeing that he wants to change his elegy ways and then the line of, “I feel guilty, I feel guilty.” Is Dan pushing to want to be an epic character but something is holding him back, “back’s up against the wall.”

    Liked by 1 person

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