Applying Narrative Theory
Codes & Conventions of Narrative
Applying Vladimir Propp’s Theory- 7 broad character types
Vladimir Propp developed a character theory for studying media texts which indicates that there
are 7 broad character types.
1.Hero – Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something or trying to solve something. Does not
have to be a male character!
2.Villain – Conflicts with the hero.
3.Heroine – Is usually some sort if prize or reward for the hero. N.B. if your hero is a
female, your heroine can be male.
4.Father – An authoritative figure who offers a reward to the hero for completing their quest.
That reward can be a prince/princess, or an object of value.
5.Helper – Helps the hero – often acts as sidekick.
6.Donor – Gives the hero something – a clue, a talisman, a special power – which helps them
complete their quest.
7.Mentor – Teaches and guides the hero.
1.These roles could sometimes be distributed among various characters, as the hero kills the villain
dragon, and the dragon's sisters take on the villainous role of chasing him.
2.Conversely, one character could engage in acts as more than one role, as a father could send
his son on the quest and give him a sword, acting as both dispatcher and donor.
Propp’s character archetypes applied to
Star Wars & Sherk
The Villain Darth Vader
The Donor Obi Won Kenobe
The Helper Han Solo
The Princess Princess Leah
The Dispatcher R2 - D2
The False Hero -Darth Vader (Luke’s dad)
Hero – Shrek
Villain – Lord Farquaad
Heroine – Princess Fiona
Father – Lord Farquaad (In this
Helper – Donkey
Donor – Dragon
Mentor – None as such.
Using examples from your
own production, how
relevant is Propp’s theory
published in 1928, still
Applying The Theory of Todorov
Franco-Bulgarian philosopher who coined
the term narratology meaning to look at units of
meaning in a text. Todorov felt that all stories start
in a state of equilibrium, which is then disrupted,
setting in a motion a chain of events. The
resolution of the story is the creation of
Applying to audiences.
Why in everyday life do you think that when we
are sharing sad, happy, exciting or surprising
events with one another that we often want to
explain events in terms of beginnings, middle and
an end? Why do you think starting with a
beginning, middle and end often works for
audiences? However, can you think of any why
opening up a film with a stage other than an
equilibrium or disruption of an equilibrium stage,
might be just as appealing to an audience?
CAUTION!!!! AS Level examiners have grown to
HATE the way students simply think it is enough to
Applying The Theory of Todorov
With specific examples from your production, to what
extent is your production true to Todorov ideas about
stages of narrative or indeed, a development and/or
challenge to it? (3-4 marks)
How relevant do you think Todorov stages of narrative is
relevant to audience’s enjoyment of media production
Levi-Strauss looked at narrative
structure and themes in texts in
terms of Binary Oppositions.
Binary oppositions are opposite
values that reveal the structure of
It is important to look at the
detonations (literal meaning) and
significance) of the sign.
Looking at the narrative
structure of one of your own
productions, which binary
oppositions do you use that
were already familiar to your
audience? consider to be
film techniques did you use
to try to secure desired
readings on behalf of your
Tim O’Sullivan (1998) 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 set of cultures. Through careful
mediation, media texts offer a way of telling stories about
ourselves (as a culture) – these are ideologies
-when things go
wrong/unplanned you must
be responsible and deal
with the situation as
appropriate. Making an
work with your child’s
biological parent because
this is the ‘right’ thing to do
Sherk: Moral ideologies ,
such as, ' it's not what's
on the outside, it's
what's on the inside that
counts.' It also
friends should always
because love is
have to sacrifice
other things in life
for this). Follow your
expected role in life.
Applying Tim Sullivan’s ideas–
Which specific dominant
ideologies are played out,
developed or indeed challenged
in your production?
Also, what specific film
techniques did you employ to
help successful construct these
ideologies on screen?
Restricted or /and Omniscient Narration
Restricted narration –Audiences see an event through
the viewpoint of only one person. This can add surprise
as audiences only discover events alongside the
character seeing the film’s events through his/her eyes.
A camerawork technique such as extensive use of
‘point-of-view’ shots is commonly used. It is typically
used in the detective genre as a way of increasing the
mystery and impenetrability of the story.
Omniscient narration –Audiences see events from
multiple viewpoints adding suspense as audiences are
privy to information other characters are not. This
technique is often used in melodrama and is intended
to introduce a discrepancy between the information
held by the characters and that of the spectator. This is
useful in increasing the dramatic suspense crucial to
melodrama. Narrative information conveyed from a
wide variety of sources by means of camerawork; the
camera freely moves from one character to another so
the events can be seen through the eyes of different
Scream (Wes Craven 1996)
Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) in ‘Scream’ is a
good example of omniscient narration. As in ‘most
horror genre films we know more than the victim
does. (He’s behind you!)
To what extent did the
chosen genre and/or
storyline of your
production inform your
decision to opt for a
To what extent did
opting for an
help to provide a
desired outcome? (i.e.
creation of a specific
mood, style, and/ or