Narrative theories

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Narrative theories

  1. 1. Narrative Theories by Sonia Tyrna
  2. 2. Tim O’Sullivan argues that all media texts tell us some kind of story. Media texts offer a way of telling stories about ourselves – not usually our own personal stories, but the story of us as a culture, or a set of cultures.
  3. 3. click here for the source
  4. 4. Katie, a 17 year old girl from Nottingham is suffering from abuse daily at the hands of her father, class mates, and strangers online. She finds herself releasing her emotions through an online blog, in which she uploads short videos of her abusive experiences and pours her feelings out in online video diaries. The equilibrium rises when the link to her blog becomes known to all people at school. Following that, the abuse get more severe and at times even physical. Katie's despair builds up and she sees no other way but to end her life. The equilibrium restores when she meets Charlotte at a support meeting, who helps Katie to re-build her life. When Katie falls in love with Charlotte, she finds her worries disappear and her life beginning to change, for the bett
  5. 5. Todorov 's theory of narrative An initial situation begins with a state of normality - whether it would be good, bad or neutral (EQUILIBRIUM). A problem, character or an action, disrupts the situation (DISEQUILIBRIUM). The problem is resolved allowing the reinstatement of the initial situation but with a slight difference, a new equilibrium is produced (RESOLUTION).There are five stages the narrative can progress through: Here narrative is not seen as a linear structure but a circular one. The narrative is driven by attempts to restore the equilibrium. However, the equilibrium attained at the end of the story is not identical to the initial equilibrium. Todorov argues that narrative involves a transformation. The characters or the situations are transformed through the progress of the disruption. The disruption itself usually takes place outside the normal social framework, outside the ‘normal’ social events e.g. a murder happens and people are terrified or someone vanishes and the characters have to solve the mystery.
  6. 6. Roland Barthes: Establishment of plot or theme. This is then followed by the development of the problem, an enigma, an increase in tension. Finally comes to resolution of the plot. Such narratives can be unambiguous and linear.
  7. 7. Propp’s character roles. He identified a theory about characters and actions as narrative functions - there's a set of stock characters in every story. Characters have a narrative function; they provide a structure for the text. To Propp events are not just about character and action but also about progressing the narrative. • • • • • The Hero – a character that seeks something The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s quest The Donor – who provides an object with magical properties The Dispatcher – who sends the hero on his/her quest via a message The False Hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making false claims • The Helper – who aids the hero • The 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 effort
  8. 8. Propp’s spheres of action • Preparation an ordered state of being • Complication a state of disorder • Transference the hero leaves home, receives a magical agent • Struggle hero defeats the villain • Return the hero returns, but is not recognised, a false hero has stolen his place, the hero has to complete a task • Recognition the hero is recognised, the false hero exposed, the hero gets the princess
  9. 9. According to Pam Cook the standard Hollywood narrative structure should have  Linearity of cause and effect within an overall trajectory of enigma code. i.e. stories should have a beginning, middle and end in which something happens and causes a series of problems which then have to be resolved  A high degree of narrative closure i.e. the viewer has to experience a relief, a catharsis – all the questions have to be answered  A fictional world that contains verisimilitude especially governed by a spatial and temporal coherence.
  10. 10. Narratives common structures are used not only in film but also in advertising and news stories. In fact, the structures presented are an integral part of the majority of both western and eastern cultures – details how narrative works in society to inform the audience of events, people, places through mediated ideologies within them.
  11. 11. Jonathan Culler describes narratology as compromising many strands “implicitly united in the recognition that narrative theory requires a distinction between a story, a sequence of actions or events conceived as independent or their manifestation in discourse, and discourse, the discursive presentation or narration of events.” Structure is different to theme – narrative presents the form in which the theme is mediated/discussed e.g. use of flashbacks etc.
  12. 12. Claude Levi-Strauss believed that stories operated on clear binary opposites e.g. Good vs. bad, rich vs. poor A complicated world is reduced to a simple either/or structure. Things are either good or bad, right or wrong – there is no in-between. This structure has clear ideological implications – what happens if the hero was not wholly correct, and that the villains weren’t always bad.

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