Narrative theories

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Narrative theories

  1. 1. Narrative TheoriesNarrative Theories
  2. 2. Tzvetan Todorov –EquilibriumTzvetan Todorov –Equilibrium All stories start in a state of equilibrium,All stories start in a state of equilibrium, which is then disrupted, setting in awhich is then disrupted, setting in a motion a chain of events. The resolution ofmotion a chain of events. The resolution of the story is the creation of athe story is the creation of a new/different equilibrium.new/different equilibrium. Equilibrium>Disruption>Resolution/Re-Equilibrium>Disruption>Resolution/Re- EquilibriumEquilibrium
  3. 3. Vladimir ProppVladimir Propp  Propp was essentially interested in the narrative of folk tales. He identified a theory that folk talesPropp was essentially interested in the narrative of folk tales. He identified a theory that folk tales were similar in many areas. They were about the same basic struggles and they appeared towere similar in many areas. They were about the same basic struggles and they appeared to have ‘Stock Characters’.have ‘Stock Characters’.  He identified a theory about characters and actions as narrative functions; they provide aHe identified a theory about characters and actions as narrative functions; they provide a structure forthe text:structure forthe text:  The hero – a character that seeks somethingThe hero – a character that seeks something  The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s questThe Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s quest  The Donor - Who provides an object with magical propertiesThe Donor - Who provides an object with magical properties  The Dispatcher - who sends the hero on his/her quest via a messageThe Dispatcher - who sends the hero on his/her quest via a message  The False hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making false claimsThe False hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making false claims  The helper - who aids the heroThe helper - who aids the hero  The princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villain’s plotsThe princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villain’s plots  Her father – who acts to reward the hero for his effortHer father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort
  4. 4. Christopher VoglerChristopher Vogler  Chris Vogler is a story analyst for Disney, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, andChris Vogler is a story analyst for Disney, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, and many more Hollywood production companies. He explored the construction ofmany more Hollywood production companies. He explored the construction of narrative from a character driven perspective. His theory is called The Hero’snarrative from a character driven perspective. His theory is called The Hero’s Journey.Journey.  Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLDHeroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD  they receive the CALL TO ADVENTUREthey receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE  They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, butThey are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but  are encouraged by a MENTOR toare encouraged by a MENTOR to  CROSS THE THRESSHOLD and enter the Special World, whereCROSS THE THRESSHOLD and enter the Special World, where  they encounter TEST, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.they encounter TEST, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.  The APPROACH THE IN-MOST CAVE, cross a second thresholdThe APPROACH THE IN-MOST CAVE, cross a second threshold  where they endure the ORDEALwhere they endure the ORDEAL  They take possession of their REWARD andThey take possession of their REWARD and  are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.  They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and areThey cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.transformed by the experience.  The RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the ORDINARYThe RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the ORDINARY WORLD.WORLD.
  5. 5. Christopher VoglerChristopher Vogler  1. THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware,1. THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situationis introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma. The hero is shown against a background of environment,or dilemma. The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life isheredity, and personal history. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.pulling in different directions and causing stress.  2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something shakes up the situation, either2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, sofrom external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change.the hero must face the beginnings of change.  3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The hero feels the fear of the unknown and3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly. Alternately, anothertries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly. Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.  4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The hero comes across a seasoned4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advicetraveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. Or the hero reaches within to a source ofthat will help on the journey. Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.courage and wisdom.  5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. At the end of Act One, the hero commits5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition withto leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.unfamiliar rules and values.
  6. 6. Christopher VoglerChristopher Vogler  6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.the Special World.  7. APPROACH TO THE IN-MOST CAVE. The hero and newfound allies prepare for7. APPROACH TO THE IN-MOST CAVE. The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.the major challenge in the Special world.  8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of theSpecial World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life.moment of death comes a new life.  9. THE REWARD. The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.9. THE REWARD. The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death. There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.  10. THE ROAD BACK. About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is10. THE ROAD BACK. About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure isdriven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home. Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.brought home. Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.  11. THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on11. THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home. He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment ofthe threshold of home. He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level. By the hero’s action, thedeath and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level. By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.  12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero returns home or continues the journey,12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world asbearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformedthe hero has been transformed
  7. 7. Christopher VoglerChristopher Vogler  Vogler also claimed that there were eight Archetypes within Hollywood narrativesVogler also claimed that there were eight Archetypes within Hollywood narratives  1. HEROES Central figures in stories. Everyone is the hero of his or her own myth.1. HEROES Central figures in stories. Everyone is the hero of his or her own myth.  2. SHADOWS Villains, antagonist or enemies, perhaps the enemy within. The dark side of the2. SHADOWS Villains, antagonist or enemies, perhaps the enemy within. The dark side of the Force, the repressed possibilities of the hero, his or her potential for evil. Can be other kinds ofForce, the repressed possibilities of the hero, his or her potential for evil. Can be other kinds of repression, such as repressed grief, anger, frustration or creativity that is dangerous if it doesn’trepression, such as repressed grief, anger, frustration or creativity that is dangerous if it doesn’t have an outlet.have an outlet.  3. MENTORS The hero’s guide or guiding principles, for example Yoda, Merlin, Gandalf, a great3. MENTORS The hero’s guide or guiding principles, for example Yoda, Merlin, Gandalf, a great coach or teacher.coach or teacher.  4. HERALD One who brings the Call to Adventure. Could be a person or an event.4. HERALD One who brings the Call to Adventure. Could be a person or an event.  5. THRESHOLD GUARDIANS The forces that stand in the way at important turning points,5. THRESHOLD GUARDIANS The forces that stand in the way at important turning points, including jealous enemies, professional gatekeepers, or your own fears and doubts.including jealous enemies, professional gatekeepers, or your own fears and doubts.  6. SHAPESHIFTERS In stories, creatures like vampires or werewolves who change shape. In6. SHAPESHIFTERS In stories, creatures like vampires or werewolves who change shape. In life, the shapeshifter represents change or ambiguity. The way other people (or our perceptionslife, the shapeshifter represents change or ambiguity. The way other people (or our perceptions of them) keep changing. The opposite sex, the way people can be two-faced.of them) keep changing. The opposite sex, the way people can be two-faced.  7. TRICKSTERS Clowns and mischief-makers, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Richard Pryor and7. TRICKSTERS Clowns and mischief-makers, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. Our own mischievous subconscious, urging us to change.Eddie Murphy. Our own mischievous subconscious, urging us to change.  8. ALLIES Characters who help the hero through the change. Sidekicks, buddies, girlfriends who8. ALLIES Characters who help the hero through the change. Sidekicks, buddies, girlfriends who advise the hero through the transitions of life.advise the hero through the transitions of life.
  8. 8. Levi Strauss-Binary OppositionsLevi Strauss-Binary Oppositions  Meanings, including narrative, depend on binary oppositions – heMeanings, including narrative, depend on binary oppositions – he explores these in terms of underlying typical themes rather thanexplores these in terms of underlying typical themes rather than events. Conflict helps to drive the narrative.events. Conflict helps to drive the narrative.  Man Vs WomanMan Vs Woman  WhiteVs BlackWhiteVs Black  YoungVs OldYoungVs Old  Hero Vs VillainHero Vs Villain  West Vs EastWest Vs East  Good Vs BadGood Vs Bad
  9. 9. Roland Barthes’ Enigma CodesRoland Barthes’ Enigma Codes  Enigma/hermeneutic codeEnigma/hermeneutic code  anything that sets up a question in the narrativeanything that sets up a question in the narrative  Semic CodeSemic Code  the way in which the character, actions, events, settings take place onthe way in which the character, actions, events, settings take place on meaning; mise-en-scene, semiotic analysis, psychoanalytical theorymeaning; mise-en-scene, semiotic analysis, psychoanalytical theory  Symbolic codeSymbolic code  Signifying binary oppositions or psychological symbolsSignifying binary oppositions or psychological symbols  Action codeAction code  Codes of behaviour in the diegetic world that are universally understood,Codes of behaviour in the diegetic world that are universally understood, from our de-coding of other narratives.from our de-coding of other narratives.  Cultural/Referential CodeCultural/Referential Code  Codes that are defined by the world outside the narrative diegesis, with areCodes that are defined by the world outside the narrative diegesis, with are understood through our interaction with the wide worldunderstood through our interaction with the wide world
  10. 10. Robert McKeeRobert McKee Robert McKee has a simple 5 partRobert McKee has a simple 5 part structure for narratives:structure for narratives: 1. Inciting incident1. Inciting incident 2. Progressive Complications2. Progressive Complications 3. Crisis3. Crisis 4. Climax4. Climax 5. Resolution5. Resolution

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