NARRATIVE
THEORY
UNIT G325 - SECTION A –Q1B
INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE
Narrative explores the conventions of:
• Genre
• Character
• Form
• Time
The key events
Includes...
NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
Linear Structure:
Beginning Middle End
(Audience introduced to (Events –story builds) (Closure)
charac...
NARRATIVE THEORISTS
There are many theorists who use theory to explain narrative
structure. We shall be studying four of t...
PROPP
Often used in Hollywood or Disney Films (with a happy ever after)
Background: 1895 —1970 Vladimir Propp was a Russia...
In addition to the characters Propp he says that it is narratemes (i.e.
narrative functions)-events that drive the narrati...
BARTHES
Barthes describes narrative as a series of codes that are read and
interpreted by the audience
BARTHES CODES
Action Code: (proairetic code)
something the audience knows and doesn't need explaining e.g. someone
being w...
TODOROV
Todorov describes narrative as going from equilibrium to disequilibrium back to an
altered equilibrium
TODOROV
Equilibrium: (sets the scene)
Everyday Life
Disruption: (complication)
Something happens to alter the equilibrium
...
LEVI-STRAUSS
Levi-Strauss describes narrative as created by constant conflict of binary opposites
Love – Hate Black – Whit...
COMPLEX NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
Today’s narratives have become increasingly complex as producers
know that audiences have a gr...
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Intro to narrative propp, todorov, barthes, levi-strauss

  1. 1. NARRATIVE THEORY UNIT G325 - SECTION A –Q1B
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE Narrative explores the conventions of: • Genre • Character • Form • Time The key events Includes information not shown Narrative = how is the story told? (as events unfold)
  3. 3. NARRATIVE STRUCTURE Linear Structure: Beginning Middle End (Audience introduced to (Events –story builds) (Closure) characters and story) Open Structure: The audience are left to wonder what happens next and make sense of it themselves (e.g. “Inception”) Closed Structure: Definite ending – clear conclusion for the audience Circular Structure: The narrative begins at the end events (often with the Beginning climax). The audience are taking on a journey arriving And end back where they started. (e.g. Pulp fiction) ? !
  4. 4. NARRATIVE THEORISTS There are many theorists who use theory to explain narrative structure. We shall be studying four of them: •Vladimir Propp •Roland Barthes •Tzvetan Todorov •Claude Levi-Strauss * You will only need to know one or two for your exam*
  5. 5. PROPP Often used in Hollywood or Disney Films (with a happy ever after) Background: 1895 —1970 Vladimir Propp was a Russian scholar who analysed Russian folk tales (fairy tales) by their narrative structure. He identifies 8 ‘types’ of characters: •Hero (protagonist) has a mission of quest to complete (e.g.Luke Skywalker) •Villain (antagonist) tries to stop the hero (Darth Vader) •Princess love interest and/or object of the quest (Princess Leia) •Father person with knowledge (Leia) •Dispatcher sends the hero off (Obi Wan) •Donor gives the hero something to help him (Obi Wan) •Sidekick the helper (not as handsome as hero) –poss. comic relief (C3P0+) •False hero villain that pretends to be good in order to trick the hero Propp’s theory of narrative is driven by the characters using a set of narrative functions
  6. 6. In addition to the characters Propp he says that it is narratemes (i.e. narrative functions)-events that drive the narrative forward: 1.Family member leaves home -Hero introduced 2.Hero given a warning (e.g. not to do something) 3.Hero ignores the warning 4.Villain appears (e.g. trying to find jewels / children etc.) 5.Villain gains information about the victim 6.Villain attempts to trick the victim (guise / trickery) 7.Victim/ Hero is fooled by the villain 8.Villain causes harm or injury 9.Misfortune or lack is made known to Hero 10.Hero decides on counter-action 11.Hero leaves home 12.Hero is tested by the Donor 13.Hero responds to the test 14.Hero acquires a magical agent 15.Location / hero change to the place of lack 16.Hero and Villain in direct combat 17.Hero is branded (wounded / scarred) 18.Villain is defeated (killed) 19.Lack is met -resolution 20.Hero goes back home 21.Hero is pursued 22.Hero is rescued 23.Unrecognised Hero arrives home / another country 24.False hero claims Hero’s success 25.Difficult task is set 26.Hero resolves the task 27.True Hero now recognised 28.False hero exposed 29.Hero given transformation (new appearance e.g. new clothes) 30.Villain is punished 31.Hero marries and ascends the throne Propp's 31 narrative functions
  7. 7. BARTHES Barthes describes narrative as a series of codes that are read and interpreted by the audience
  8. 8. BARTHES CODES Action Code: (proairetic code) something the audience knows and doesn't need explaining e.g. someone being wheeled out on a stretcher tells us they are going to hospital Enigma Code: (hermeneutic code) something hidden from the audience (creates intrigue) Semic Code: something that the audience recognize through connotations Symbolic Code: Something that symbolizes a more abstract concept e.g. a darker than usual room of a murder scene could symbolize the depth of darkness and depravity Cultural Code: (referential code) Something that is read with understanding due to cultural awareness (e.g. youth culture use certain words that are understood by that culture)
  9. 9. TODOROV Todorov describes narrative as going from equilibrium to disequilibrium back to an altered equilibrium
  10. 10. TODOROV Equilibrium: (sets the scene) Everyday Life Disruption: (complication) Something happens to alter the equilibrium Conflict: (climax) Trying to solve the problem (seek resolution) Resolution: Problem is sorted New Equilibrium: (satisfactory end) Back to normal (but never the same)- a new normal
  11. 11. LEVI-STRAUSS Levi-Strauss describes narrative as created by constant conflict of binary opposites Love – Hate Black – White Man – Nature Light – Darkness Peace – War Protagonist –Antagonist Movement – Stillness Civilized – Savage Young – Old Control – Panic Strong – Weak Man – Woman Wealth – Poverty Mankind – Aliens Humans – Technology Ignorance - Wisdom “Sat Wars” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” “Avatar” “District 9” “The Searchers” “Slumdog Millionaire” Can you match them?
  12. 12. COMPLEX NARRATIVE STRUCTURE Today’s narratives have become increasingly complex as producers know that audiences have a greater sense of media literacy when it comes to making meaning of the text and reading the signs. There are often numerous plot twists and surprises that keep the audience intrigued with carefully spun storylines. Films such as “Memento” (Nolan,2000) which weaves the story in reverse gives the audience a similar experience to the protagonist who has short term memory loss, as they try and fit the clues together through the use of restricted narrative. Unrestricted Narrative: What the are assumed to know e.g. thriller there will be a crime so they will be expecting it Restricted Narrative: The information that is withheld from the audience http://quizlet.com/4162490/narrative-theorists-flash-cards/ Now test your knowledge:
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