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Narrative theory 2
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  • 1. Key TermsNarrative Plot Story
  • 2. A narrative is the relationNarrative between a series of events The story is the strict Story chronological order in which the events occur Plot is the order in which the Plot characters find out about these events
  • 3. "Story is the irreducible substance of astory (A meets B, something happens, order returns), while narrative is the way the story is related (Once upon a time there was a princess...)" Key Concepts in Communication - Fiske et al (1983)
  • 4. I’m Roland Barthes. Ithink that media textsare constructed using a series of codes.These codes help the audience to understand what is going on.
  • 5. Barthes’ Narrative Codes Action Code!!  When we see an action in a text and we anticipate what consequences will follow  For example Dirty Ol Arry Enigma Code??  When we encounter plot elements that raise questions on the part of the reader of a text  For example Vinny and Jules
  • 6. I’m Claude Levi-Strauss and I’m over 100 years old and still alive! I think the constant creation of conflict/opposition propels narrative and narrative can only end on a resolution of conflict.
  • 7. More stuff on Claude Opposition can be visual (light/darkness, movement/stillness) Or conceptual (love/hate, control/panic), and to do with soundtrack.
  • 8. I am Tzvetan Todorov! I postulatethat narratives follow a typical form of equilibrium, disequilibrium and new equilibrium. Simples!
  • 9. 1. A state of equilibrium (all is as it should be)2. A disruption of that order by an event3. A recognition that the disorder has occurred4. An attempt to repair the damage of thedisruption5. A return or restoration of a NEW equilibrium
  • 10. I am Vladimir Propp and I spent a lot of time reading fairytales. I found that there are 31 broad narrative functions and 7 broad character types
  • 11. Propp’s Character Types1. The villain — struggles against the hero.2. The donor — prepares the hero or gives the hero somemagical object.3. The (magical) helper — helps the hero in the quest.4. The princess and her father — gives the task to the hero,identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought forduring the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, theprincess and the father can not be clearly distinguished.5. The dispatcher — character who makes the lack knownand sends the hero off.6. The hero or victim/seeker hero — reacts to the donor,weds the princess.7. [False hero] — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries tomarry the princess
  • 12. Propp’s Narrative Structures 1. ABSENTATION: A member of a family leaves the security of the home environment for some reason. This may be the hero or perhaps it’s some other member of the family that the hero will later need to rescue. This division of the cohesive family injects initial tension into the storyline. The hero may also be introduced here, often being shown as an ordinary person. This allows the reader of the story to associate with the hero as being like me. 2. INTERDICTION: An interdiction is addressed to the hero (dont go there, dont do this)The hero is warned against some action (given an interdiction). A warning to the hero is also a warning to the reader about the dangers of life. Will the hero heed the warning? Would the reader? Perhaps the reader hopes the hero will ignore the warning, giving a vicarious adventure without the danger. 3. VIOLATION of INTERDICTION. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale). The hero ignores the interdiction (warning not to do something) and goes ahead. This generally proves to be a bad move and the villain enters the story, although not necessarily confronting the hero. Perhaps they are just a lurking presence or perhaps they attack the family whilst the hero is away. This acts to further increase tension. We may want to shout at the hero dont do it! But the hero cannot hear us and does it anyway.
  • 13.  4. RECONNAISSANCE: The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim questions the villain). The villain (often in disguise) makes an active attempt at seeking information, for example searching for something valuable or trying to actively capture someone. They may speak with a member of the family who innocently divulges information. They may also seek to meet the hero, perhaps knowing already the hero is special in some way. The introduction of the villain adds early tension to the story, particularly when they are found close to the previously-supposedly safe family or community environment. The eloquence or power of the villain may also add tension and we may want to shout at their targets to take care. 5. DELIVERY: The villain gains information about the victim. The villains seeking now pays off and he or she now acquires some form of information, often about the hero or victim. Other information can be gained, for example about a map or treasure location or the intent of the good guys. This is a down point in the story as the pendulum of luck swings towards the villain, creating fear and anticipation that the villain will overcome the hero and the story will end in tragedy. 6. TRICKERY: The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victims belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim). The villain now presses further, often using the information gained in seeking to deceive the hero or victim in some way, perhaps appearing in disguise. This may include capture of the victim, getting the hero to give the villain something or persuading them that the villain is actually a friend and thereby gaining collaboration. Deception and the betrayal of trust is one of the worst social crimes, short of physical abuse. This action cements the position of the villain as clearly bad. It also raises the tension further as we fear for the hero or victim who is being deceived.
  • 14.  7. COMPLICITY: Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy. The trickery of the villain now works and the hero or victim naively acts in a way that helps the villain in some way. This may range from providing the villain with something (perhaps a map or magical weapon) to actively working against good people (perhaps the villain has persuaded the hero that these other people are actually bad). We now despair as the hero or victim acts in a way that may be seen as villainous. Perhaps we worry that the hero will fall permanently into the thrall of the villain. Perhaps they will become corrupted and evil also. We also fear for the reputation of the hero who may be perceived as evil and thus never find the true treasure or win the hand of the princess. 8. VILLIANY and LACK: Villain causes harm/injury to family member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, comits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc). There are two parts to this stage, either or both of which may appear in the story. In the first stage, the villain causes some kind of harm, for example carrying away a victim or the desired magical object (which must be then be retrieved). In the second stage, a sense of lack is identified, for example in the heros family or within a community, whereby something is identified as lost or something becomes desirable for some reason, for example a magical object that will save people in some way. Lack is a deep psychoanalytic principle which we first experience when we realize our individual separation from the world. Lack leads to desire and deep longing and we look to heroes to satisfy this aching emptiness. 9. MEDIATION: Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimized hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment). The hero now discovers the act of villainy or lack, perhaps finding their family or community devastated or caught up in a state of anguish and woe. This creates a defining moment in the story as we wonder what will happen now. Perhaps we do not realize that the hero is the hero, as they may not yet have demonstrated heroic qualities. We feel the lack in sympathy for the act of villainy, but the hero may just have arrived on the scene or may be undistinguished from other grieving family members.
  • 15.  10. COUNTER-ACTION: Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter- action. The hero now decides to act in a way that will resolve the lack, for example finding a needed magical item, rescuing those who are captured or otherwise defeating the villain. This is a defining moment for the hero as this is the decision that sets the course of future actions and by which a previously ordinary person takes on the mantle of heroism. Having made this decision, acting with integrity means that there is no turning back, for to do so would be to remove the mantle of heroism and be left only with shame. 11. Hero leaves home; 12. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor); 13. Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversarys powers against him); 14. Hero acquires use of a magical agent (directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, eaten/drunk, help offered by other characters); 15. Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search; 16. Hero and villain join in direct combat;
  • 16.  17. Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf); 18. Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished); 19. Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (object of search distributed, spell broken, slain person revivied, captive freed); 20. Hero returns; 21. Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero); 22. Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life); 23. Hero unrecognized, arrives home or in another country; 24. False hero presents unfounded claims; 25. Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks);
  • 17.  26. Task is resolved; 27. Hero is recognized (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her); 28. False hero or villain is exposed; 29. Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc); 30. Villain is punished; 31. Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).