Barthes' Enigma Code


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Narrative Theory
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Barthes' Enigma Code

  1. 1. Barthes’ Enigma Code Narrative Theory
  2. 2. Roland Barthes • Linguist Roland Barthes described Five Codes which are woven into any narrative
  3. 3. The Hermeneutic Code • The Hermeneutic Code refers to any element of the story that is not fully explained and hence becomes a mystery to the reader. • The purpose of the author in this is typically to keep the audience guessing, arresting the enigma, until the final scenes when all is revealed and all loose ends are tied off and closure is achieved.
  4. 4. The Proairetic Code • The Proairetic Code also builds tension, referring to any other action or event that indicates something else is going to happen, and which hence gets the reader guessing as to what will happen next. • The Hermeneutic and Proairetic Codes work as a pair to develop the story's tensions and keep the reader interested. Barthes described them as: • "...dependent on ... two sequential codes: the revelation of truth and the coordination of the actions represented: there is the same constraint in the gradual order of melody and in the equally gradual order of the narrative sequence."
  5. 5. The Semantic Code • This code refers to connotation within the story that gives additional meaning over the basic denotative meaning of the word. • It is by the use of extended meaning that can be applied to words that authors can paint rich pictures with relatively limited text and the way they do this is a common indication of their writing skills.
  6. 6. The Symbolic Code • This is very similar to the Semantic Code, but acts at a wider level, organizing semantic meanings into broader and deeper sets of meaning. • This is typically done in the use of antithesis, where new meaning arises out of opposing and conflict ideas.
  7. 7. The Cultural Code • This code refers to anything that is founded on some kind of canonical works that cannot be challenged and is assumed to be a foundation for truth.
  8. 8. In terms of Music Video • Barthes’ Enigma Hermeneutic Code can be found in a majority of music videos. • The narrative will establish enigmas (puzzling imagery or occurrences) or mysteries as it goes along. • Essentially the narrative functions to first establish then solve.
  9. 9. Example of Enigma Code • Katy Perry – Wide Awake
  10. 10. Narrative Decoded • Why does it start with the ending of a song? • Strawberry • Suddenly moves from dressing room to weird • Child – young – innocent (why is there suddenly a child who’s invisible in the mirror?) • Walls moving, floor giving way • Being pushed in wheelchair by child • Why is there magic elements, light • People with bull heads confront them • Prince – only after her because she’s famous • Star comes out of chest • Bull masks – mental aura – maybe guards • End with another song • Cat with crazy eyes – curiosity • Based on Alice in Wonderland • Why based in Labyrinth/Maze/hospital/on shoot/dressing room/forest/garden • Paparazzi other side of mirror – couldn’t see their faces.