Researching & Applying Narrative Theory G321 Coursework Version
Researching & Applying Narrative Theory
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 planned production, what
archetypical types do your group plan to feature and which
specific film techniques have you elected to use to help
construct desired meanings?
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 new/different equilibrium.
A film that follow these steps perfectly is Die Hard.
1. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is coming home to his family for
Christmas and all is calm. (The equilibrium)
2. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his team of terrorists take over
the nakatomi building which is hosting a Christmas part of which
McClane and his wife are attending.
3. (2 points of recognition) McClane isn't in the room when the
terrorists storm in so is able to move up the building when he hears
screaming. People outside of the building realise there's a
disruption when a police man's car is shot at from the building.
4. The police try sending in a SWAT team in which fails. The
situation is solved by John McClane throwing Gruber out of a high
floor window which kills him.
5. The equilibrium is restored when the police got McClane, his
wife and the other hostages out of the building, and the McClanes
leave in a police car.
Applying The Theory of Todorov
Although, Todorov's theory is so
flexible it could be argued that Fight
Club could fit in to the theory. Every
film unless it is in a sequel should end
with a new equilibrium. Star Wars is a
sequel, and even that has a new
equilibrium at the end of every flim.
My film will follow Todorov's theory.
With reference to the content of your
script /storyboard, what stages of
Todorov theory has been applied?
1. Clarke Hammer living his everyday
life and still mourning his brothers
2. Starts looking into his death more
and asking questions. (The disruption)
3. He tries to avenge his brother's
death (acknowledgement of the
4. Attempts to kill the Home
Secterary (Attempt to repair)
5. Hammer's dead, and the Home
Secretary resigns (New equilibrium)
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 your own
productions, if and what
binary oppositions are
arguably present in your
opening 2 minutes?
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!)
Did your group opt for
a restricted or
and to what extent was
your decision informed
by your chosen genre?
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 does your plan to
use, develop or challenge
in the opening 2
minutes, but music
combined with the
the slicing of titles
Opens up with
of the city,
nothing seems a
mist. Nice sunny