TV Drama - Approaches to Narrative Theory

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TV Drama - Approaches to Narrative Theory

  1. 1. Introducing ‘narrative’
  2. 2. What does narrative mean?  The way that stories are told, how meaning is constructed to achieve the understanding of the audience.  Groups events into cause and effect – in which an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event.  Organises time and space in very compressed form.  The voice of the narrative can vary; whose story is being told and from whose perspective?  Narrative plot refers to everything audibly or visibly present  Narrative story refers to all the events, explicitly presented or referred.  In film, narrative is constructed through micro elements like camerawork, lighting, sound, mise-en-scene and editing.2
  3. 3. Approaches to studying narrative  There are many ways of looking at and thinking about narratives.  For nearly 2300 years various ‘thinkers’, philosophers and theorists have tried to explain how narratives work. 3
  4. 4. Aristotle Over 2000 years ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that all narratives have:  a beginning  a middle  an end 4
  5. 5. Todorov’s approach to narrativeThere are five stages a narrative has to pass through:1. The state of equilibrium (state of normality – good, bad or neutral).2. An event disrupts the equilibrium (a character or an action).3. The main protagonist recognises that the equilibrium has been disrupted.4. Protagonist attempts to rectify this in order to restore equilibrium.5. Equilibrium is restored but, because causal transformations have occurred, there are differences (good, bad, or neutral) from original equilibrium, which establish it as a new equilibrium. 5
  6. 6. Propp’s approach to narrative• Vladimir Propp studied hundreds of Russian folk and fairytales before deciding that all narratives have a common structure.• He observed that narratives are shaped and directed by certain types of characters and specific kinds of actions• He believed that there are 31 possible stages or functions in any narrative.• These may not all appear in a single story, but nevertheless always appear in the same sequence.• A function is a plot motif or event in the story.• A tale may skip functions but it cannot shuffle their unvarying order. 6
  7. 7. Propp’s approach to narrativePropp believed that there are seven roles which any character may assume inthe story:• Villain − struggles with hero• Donor − prepares and/or provides hero with magical agent• Helper − assists, rescues, solves and/or transfigures the hero• Princess − a sought-for person (and/or her father) who exists as goal and often recognises and marries hero and/or punishes villain• Dispatcher − sends hero off• Hero − departs on a search (seeker-hero), reacts to donor and weds at end• False Hero − claims to be the hero, often seeking and reacting like a real hero 7
  8. 8. Claude Levi-Strauss’s approach to narrative• After studying hundreds of myths and legends from around the world, Levi-Strauss observed that we make sense of the world, people and events by seeing and using binary opposites everywhere.• He observed that all narratives are organised around the conflict between such binary opposites. 8
  9. 9. Examples of binary opposites• Good vs evil • Protagonist vs antagonist• Black vs white • Action vs inaction• Boy vs girl• Peace vs war • Motivator vs observer• Civilised vs savage • Empowered vs victim• Democracy vs • Man vs woman dictatorship • Good-looking vs ugly• Conqueror vs conquered • Strong vs weak• First world vs third world• Domestic vs foreign/alien • Decisive vs indecisive• Articulate vs inarticulate • East vs west• Young vs old • Humanity vs technology• Man vs nature • Ignorance vs wisdom 9
  10. 10. Examples of binary opposites• Good vs evil • Protagonist vs antagonist• Black vs white • Action vs inaction• Boy vs girl• Peace vs war • Motivator vs observer• Civilised vs savage • Empowered vs victim• Democracy vs • Man vs woman dictatorship • Good-looking vs ugly• Conqueror vs conquered • Strong vs weak• First world vs third world• Domestic vs foreign/alien • Decisive vs indecisive• Articulate vs inarticulate • East vs west• Young vs old • Humanity vs technology• Man vs nature • Ignorance vs wisdom 9

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