Narrative Theory NARRATIVE
NARRATIVE <ul><li>Story  = a sequence of events, known correctly as the  plot </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative  = the way those...
CODES <ul><li>Technical Codes  This refers to all the aspects of narrative construction that involve technical decision ma...
STRUCTURE
Todorov <ul><li>Tzvetan Todorov simplified the idea of narrative theory while also allowing a more complex interpretation ...
Barthes <ul><li>Symbol: Stands in place of an object - flags, the crucifix, bathroom door signs.  </li></ul><ul><li>Index:...
Barthes <ul><li>Signifier: Is in some ways a substitute. Words, both oral and written, are signifiers. The brain then exch...
Vladimir Propp Teaches and guides the hero Mentor Gives the hero something - a clue, a talisman, a special power - which h...
Vladimir Propp <ul><li>Propp's lists are easy to learn - but are they so easily applied to every narrative you come across...
Claude Levi-Strauss <ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>As well as Aristotle deciding that 'all drama is conflict' in the 4...
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Narrative

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Bathes; Levi-Strauss; Propp & Todorov.

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Narrative

  1. 1. Narrative Theory NARRATIVE
  2. 2. NARRATIVE <ul><li>Story = a sequence of events, known correctly as the plot </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative = the way those events are put together to be presented to an audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, when analysing a narrative we analyse the construction of the story ie the way it has been put together, not the story itself. You also need to consider what the story is about in its most basic terms, ie the theme (eg Love, war, winning). </li></ul><ul><li>All media texts have a narrative, whether they are a three hour films or a one paragraph newspaper story or a glossy magazine photograph. </li></ul>
  3. 3. CODES <ul><li>Technical Codes This refers to all the aspects of narrative construction that involve technical decision making. Therefore anything to do with camera angles and movement , lighting, sound, props. shot framing and composition, design and layout and editing. What do each of the choices made tell you about what is going on - for instance, is a character shot from a high or low angle and how does that make you, the audience, feel about them? How are sound effects used to help you make sense of what is going on? </li></ul><ul><li>Verbal Codes The use of language - written and spoken - and signs contained in graphics. We learn a lot about a narrative from what we are told in this way, but the best narratives show rather than tell , leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions. </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic Codes These are the signs contained in the narrative that we decode as being significant and having meaning - for example a ragged coat worn by a character may mean that they are poor and possibly hungry. Think of them as clues that have to be followed, and different viewers/readers will follow clues in different ways. </li></ul>
  4. 4. STRUCTURE
  5. 5. Todorov <ul><li>Tzvetan Todorov simplified the idea of narrative theory while also allowing a more complex interpretation of film texts with his theory of Equilibrium and Disequilibrium. </li></ul><ul><li>The fictional environment begins with a state of equilibrium (everything is as it should be in a state of equal balance between powers of any kind, where equality of importance or effect exists among the various parts of any complex unity ). It then suffers some disruption (disequilibrium). New equilibrium is produced at the end of the narrative.    There are five stages the narrative can progress through: </li></ul><ul><li>A state of equilibrium (All is as it should be.) </li></ul><ul><li>A disruption of that order by an event. </li></ul><ul><li>A recognition that the disorder has occurred. </li></ul><ul><li>An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption. </li></ul><ul><li>A return or restoration of a NEW equilibrium </li></ul>
  6. 6. Barthes <ul><li>Symbol: Stands in place of an object - flags, the crucifix, bathroom door signs. </li></ul><ul><li>Index: Points to something - an indicator, such as words like &quot;big&quot; and arrows. </li></ul><ul><li>Icon: A representation of an object that produces a mental image of the object represented. For example, a picture of a tree evokes the same mental image regardless of language. The picture of a tree conjures up &quot;tree&quot; in the brain </li></ul>
  7. 7. Barthes <ul><li>Signifier: Is in some ways a substitute. Words, both oral and written, are signifiers. The brain then exchanges the signifier for a working definition. The word &quot;tree&quot;, for example, is a signifier. You can't make a log cabin out of the word &quot;tree.&quot; You could, however, make a log cabin out of what the brain substitutes for the input &quot;tree&quot; which would be some type of signified. </li></ul><ul><li>Signified: What the signifier refers to (see signifier). There are two types of signifieds: </li></ul><ul><li>Connotative: Points to the signified but has a deeper meaning. An example provided by Barthes is &quot;Tree&quot; = luxuriant green, shady, etc... </li></ul><ul><li>Denotative: What the signified actually is, quite like a definition, but in brain language </li></ul>
  8. 8. Vladimir Propp Teaches and guides the hero Mentor Gives the hero something - a clue, a talisman, a special power - which helps them complete their quest Donor Helps the hero - often acts as a sidekick Helper An authority figure who offers a reward to the hero for completing their quest. That reward might be a prince or a princess or a cool new job Father Is usually some sort of prize or reward for the hero. NB if your hero is female, your heroine can be male :) Heroine Conflicts with the hero Villain Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something (a quest) or trying to solve something (a mystery). Does not have to be male :) Hero Role within narrative Character Type
  9. 9. Vladimir Propp <ul><li>Propp's lists are easy to learn - but are they so easily applied to every narrative you come across? We live in a world of very sophisticated narratives - many of them non-linear - which deliberately defy the conventions of traditional folk tales. Can you apply Propp consistently if the hero is female? Are all narratives about struggles between heroes and villains - or do we oversimplify them if we try to claim that they are? Many interesting narratives spring from a conflict between two characters who are neither villainous or heroic, 'just people'. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Claude Levi-Strauss <ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>As well as Aristotle deciding that 'all drama is conflict' in the 4th century BC, 20th century theorist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested that all narratives had to be driven forward by conflict that was cause by a series of opposing forces. </li></ul><ul><li>He called this the theory of Binary Opposition , and it is used to describe how each main force in a narrative has its equal and opposite. Analysing a narrative means identifying these opposing forces eg </li></ul><ul><li>light/dark good/evil noise/silence youth/age right/wrong poverty/wealth strength/weakness inside/outside and understanding how the conflict between them will drive the narrative on until, finally, some sort of balance or resolution is achieved. </li></ul>

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