Vladmir Propp examined hundreds of folk tales to see if they shared any structures. He identified eight character roles and thirty one narrative functions. All of the character roles and different functions presented by Propp can be applied to all kinds of narrative for example; in an action movie we are often presented with heroes and villains.
Propp’s eight character roles and how they can be applied to the shining. The villain— struggles against the hero- In the shining this character type could be considered to be either Jack as he gets possessed and tries to kill his family or the hotel as this is what possesses him. The dispatcher—character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off- This character type can not be related to The Shining The helper — helps the hero in the quest- In the shining the helper could be the character Dick as he does help Danny at some stages throughout the film and Danny could be seen as one of the heroes.. However, this does not directly relate.
The princess or prize — the hero deserves her throughout the story but is unable to marry her because of an unfair evil, usually because of the villain. the hero's journey is often ended when he marries the princess, thereby beating the villain- In the shining the princess or prize would be the main female protagonist Wendy as she is the only female character; the former husband Jack deserves her but as he comes possessed he no longer deserves her. The prize could be the character Danny. Her father — gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished- Can not be related to The Shining.
The donor —prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object- The donor in The Shining could be the character Dick as he enabled Danny to use his power by making him aware of it. The heroor victim/seeker hero — reacts to the donor, weds the princess- The hero in The Shining could either be Danny or Wendy as they both survive until the end. False hero — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess- The false hero could either be Jack as he pretends to be someone he is not or it could be Dick.
To some extent, Propp's eight character types do relate to the film The Shining. However, not all of them can be connected such as; the dispatcher and the father.
Bordwell and Thompson
Bordwell and Thompson never did come up with a complete narrative theory, they did however come up with some interesting ideas. They believed that chain of events within a media form cause effects on a relationship occurring in time and space and the narrative shapes this material in terms of time space such as; where and when things take place. This can be portrayed through using effects to show the time and space by using flash backs, forwarding time, slow motion and speeding up.
This theory is evident within The shining. We see the character Jack having flashbacks from past events and we see Danny seeing things in the future due to his power. Inter titles are used frequently within the movie showing which day it is connoting the high impact of the time in this film.
Claude Levi Strauss
Claude Levi-Strauss looked at narrative structure in terms of " Binary oppositions" focusing on the different sets of opposite values which reveal the structure of the media texts. His narrative theory is different compared to other theorists as he focused more on the arrangement of themes rather than the order of a media text.
Examples of these binary oppositions could be : Earth – space Good – bad Past- Present Normal- abnormal Humans- Aliens Known- Unknown Dead- Alive Happy- sad Weak- strong
These binary oppositions can be applied to the film The Shining in several ways. They moved to an Isolated place when they were used to living in a civilised area. The character Jack’s sanctity changed as he became insane. Another example of these binary oppositions could be the character Wendy; she appeared weak at the beginning of the film but then became a much stronger character at the end. Lastly Danny appeared to be a normal boy at the beginning but he soon realised, with Dick’s guidance that he had a power.
Todorov was a Bulgarian linguist who produced and published influential narrative theory work from the 1960’s onwards. His theory suggested that stories begin with an equilibrium where any opposing force are in balance. This equilibrium is then disrupted by an event which leads to a series of other events leading to the stereotypical end of all major events being restored.
Visual showing of Todorov’s narrative theory found on Google images.
Todorov’s narrative theory can be applied to The Shining as the film begins normally – the family moving away. A change in equilibrium then occurs- Jack slowly becoming mental and then the enigma is then resolved at the end as Jack dies and Wendy and Danny escape unharmed.