Narrative theory


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Narrative theory

  1. 1. Narrative Theory Alexander Masha
  2. 2. Tzvetan Todorov Theory Tzvetan Todorov theory simplified the idea of the narrative theory whilst also allowing a more complex interpretation of film texts with his ideas of Equilibrium and Disequilibrium There are five stages to Todorov Narrative Theory 1. A state of equilibrium(The fictional environment within the films text is as it should be) 2. A disruption of the equilibrium(Something has disrupted the order in the fictional environment this is usually caused by an event) 3. A recognition of the disequilibrium(Characters within the fictional environment have recognised the threat posed by the disequilibrium) 4. An attempt to repair the equilibrium(Characters within the fictional environment try and put things back to the way they were) 5. Equilibrium is restored or a new equilibrium is established(Characters within the fictional environment are successful in the attempts to repair the equilibrium returning things to the way they were or by accepting a new equilibrium)
  3. 3. Tzvetan Todorov Theory Todorov theory sees the narrative not as a linear structure but a circular one. The narrative is only driven by attempts to restore the equilibrium. However was the equilibrium is restored at the of the story it is not quite identical to that at the beginning. The disruption causing the disequilibrium is usually considered out of place not part of the social norms or social framework for example a murder taking place.
  4. 4. Vladimir Propp Narrative Theory Vladimir Propp based his own narrative theory on fairy tale which he saw had the same basic structure. With the same stock characters. Propp identified a theory about characters and actions as narrative functions. The characters function was to provide structure for the text. Characters in Propp’s theory that perform a function 1. The Hero – a character that seeks something 2. The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s quest 3. The Donor – who provides an object with magical properties 4. The Dispatcher – who sends the hero on his/her quest via a message 5. The False Hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making false claims 6. The Helper – who aids the hero 7. The Princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villain’s plots 8. Her Father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort
  5. 5. Vladimir Propp Narrative Theory Action as functions of narrative Preparation 1. A community/kingdom/family is in an ordered state of being 2. A member of the community/kingdom/family leaves home 3. A warning is given to the leaders of the community or a rule is imposed on the hero 4. The warning is discounted/ the rule is broken 5. The villain attempts to discover something about the victim of the broken rule 6. The villain tries to deceive the victim to gain advantage 7. The victim unwittingly helps the villain Complication the state of disorder 1. A state of disorder 2. The villain harms a member of the community/kingdom/family 3. One of the members of the community/kingdom/family desires something 4. The hero is sent to get what is desired 5. The hero plans action against the villain
  6. 6. Vladimir Propp Narrative Theory Transference 1. The hero leaves home 2. The hero is tested or attacked/ he meets the test and is given a magical gift or helper 3. The hero reacts to the donor 4. The hero arrives at the place he can fulfil his quest Struggle 1. There is a struggle between the hero and the villain 2. The hero is branded 3. The villain is overcome 4. The state of disorder is settled
  7. 7. Vladimir Propp Narrative Theory Return 1. The hero returns 2. The hero is pursued 3. The hero escapes or is rescued 4. The hero arrives home and is not recognised 5. A false hero claims rewards 6. A task is set for the hero 7. The task is accomplished Recognition 1. The hero is recognised 2. The false hero or villain is unmasked 3. The false hero is punished 4. The hero attains the reward (princess/ kingdom)
  8. 8. Cluade Levi-Strauss Binary Oppositions Cluade Levi Strauss binary oppositions are sets of opposite values which reveal the structure of media texts for example Good and Evil We understand the concept of Good being the complete opposite to Evil. Strauss himself was not interested in at the order in which events in the narrative were arranged. Strauss tried to look for a deeper meaning within the arrangements of theme. Strauss theory also ties in dominant ideology. Dominant Ideology is the common values shared by most people within a society.
  9. 9. Cluade Levi-Strauss Binary Oppositions The left hand side of the list falls into the category of dominant ideology 1. Male > Female 2. White > Black 3. Happy > Unhappy 4. Family > Single 5. Rich > Poor 6. Clever > Stupid 7. Ability > Disability 8. Protagonist > Antagonist 9. Humanity > Technology 10. Human > Alien 11. Love > Hate 12. Human > Nature
  10. 10. Roland Barthes Enigma Roland Barthes believed that each person that looks at a text receives and interprets it in a different way therefore several different meanings can be made from it. Barthes believed that texts could either be ‘open’ meaning they can have many meanings or ‘closed’ meaning there is only one main meaning. Barthes proposed several narrative codes such as ‘enigma code’ this is the hook in the text which needs to be resolved by the audience. Barthes also believed that a text was made up of ‘signifiers’, objects which bring meaning to the narrative.
  11. 11. Roland Barthes Enigma Barthes also decided that the ideas that you try and unravel meaning are called narrative codes and that they could be categorised in the following five ways 1. Action/Projarectic code and Enigma code 2. Symbols and Signs 3. Points of Cultural Reference 4. Simple description/reproduction
  12. 12. How the narrative theories apply to our production After doing the research on the narratives theories we wanted to apply some aspects of each theory to our own production. We applied Tzvetan Todorov use of disequilibrium. The protagonist of the film is hit by car. This causes disequilibrium because it is out of the social norm. We applied Vladimir Propp theory of having a hero, a villain and also a false hero. Our protagonist becomes the hero of the production as he as vital information that can take down the criminal underworld. The villain is the unnamed man who assigns the hit men to kill the protagonist The false hero being the voice female character who is controlling the protagonist but is in fact planning on double crossing him for her own means. We applied Levi Strauss binary opposition Good Vs. Evil the protagonist acts as the good character while the villain in which he is up against is the evil in the production. We applied Roland Barthes enigma code in our own production. The fact that we keep the villain a mystery follows the codes as it become a driving force in the plot that needs to be resolved also the ending in itself in which the audience are left in the dark about the survival of the protagonist.