Narrative: the way in which a
story is told in both fictional
and non-fictional media
Russian critic and literary theorist.
Analysed over 100 Russian fairytales in the 1920s.
He proposed that it was possible to classify the
characters and their actions into clearly defined roles
Films such as Star Wars fit Propp‟s model
precisely, but a a significant number of more recent
films such as Pulp Fiction do not.
The model is useful, however as it highlights the
similarities between seemingly quite different stories.
PROPP‟S CHARACTER ROLES
The hero (seeks something).
The villain (opposes the hero).
The donor (helps the hero by providing a magic object).
The dispatcher (sends the hero on his way).
The false hero (falsely assuming the role of hero).
The helper (gives support to the hero).
The princess (the reward for the hero, but also needs protection
from the villain).
Her father (highly grateful to the hero, often rewards him).
Bulgarian literary theorist.
Suggests most narratives start with a state of
equilibrium in which life is „normal‟ and protagonists
This state of normality is disrupted by an outside
force, which has to be fought against in order to
return to a state of equilibrium.
This model can easily be applied to a wide range of
Everyone is causes disruption
happy and normal
It is solved and
goes back to a
There is an attempt
to fix the issue
Suggested that narrative works with five
different codes which activate the reader to
make sense of it.
He said that media texts may be either open or
Used the terms „denotation‟ and „connotation‟
to analyse images.
Action – a narrative device by which a resolution is
produced through action, e.g. a shoot-out.
Enigma – a narrative device that teases the audience
by presenting a puzzle or riddle to be solved. Works to
delay the story‟s ending pleasurably.
Symbolic – (connotation).
Semic – (denotation).
Cultural – a narrative device which the audience can
recognise as being part of a culture e.g. a “made man”
in a gangster film is part of the mafia culture.
Studied myths of tribal cultures.
Examined how stories unconsciously reflect the
values, beliefs and myths of a culture.
These are usually expressed in the form of binary
His research has been adapted by media theorists
to reveal underlying themes and symbolic
oppositions in media texts.
A conflict between two qualities or terms.
For example 1970‟s Western films: