Narrative theories


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Narrative theories

  1. 1. By Roisin Walsh
  2. 2. Narrative codes and the 3 levels of signification. He describes text as: ‘a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifiers; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances…’
  3. 3. What he means:  The text is a like a tangled ball of threads.  The thread needs to be unravelled.  Once unravelled, we encounter an absolute wide range of potential meanings.  We can start by looking at a narrative in one way, from one viewpoint, one set of previous experience, and create one meaning for that text.  You can continue by unravelling the narrative from a different angle and create an entirely different meaning. Barthes says that texts may be open or closed.
  4. 4.      The Hermeneutic Code (HER) The Enigma/Proairetic Code (ACT) The Symbolic Code (SYM) The Cultural Code (REF) The Semantic Code (SEM)
  5. 5. Binary Opposites Levi-Strauss looked at narrative structure in terms of binary oppositions. Binary oppositions are sets of opposite values which reveal the structure of media texts.
  6. 6. An example would be GOOD and EVIL. We understand he concepts of GOOD as being the opposite of EVIL. Levi-Strauss was not so interested in looking at the order in which events were arranged in the plot. He looked instead for deeper arrangements of themes. For example, if we look at Science Fiction films we can identify a series of binary oppositions which are created by the narrative: Earth: Good, Humans, Past, Known, Normal. Space: Bad, Aliens, Present, Unknown, Strange.
  7. 7. Todorov’s narrative theory is that all stories start with a state of equilibrium, which is then disrupted, setting in motion a chain of events. The resolution of the story is the restoration of the equilibrium or the creation of a new one.
  8. 8.      Equilibrium – A happy start A disruption – A problem occurs A realisation that a disruption has happened. An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption – the problem is solved A restoration of the equilibrium – A happy ending.
  9. 9. Theory of Narrative Propp’s theory is based in the narrative of traditional folk tales. He theorised that such tales were about the same basic struggles with ‘stock’ characters. His theory sees characters and actions as having narrative functions and providing a structure for that text. Propp’s theories appear in many mainstream Hollywood films.
  10. 10.      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.
  11. 11.    The Helper – who aids the hero. The Princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villains plots. The Princess’ Father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort. These characters appear in many mainstream Hollywood films.