Narrative theories


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An Introduction to Narrative and four theoris

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Narrative theories

  1. 1. Narrativetheory<br />Unit g325 - Section a –q1b<br />
  2. 2. Introduction to narrative<br />Narrative explores the conventions of: <br /><ul><li>Genre
  3. 3. Character
  4. 4. Form
  5. 5. Time</li></ul>Includes information not shown<br />story<br />plot<br />The key events<br />Narrative = how is the story told? (as events unfold)<br />
  6. 6. Narrative structure<br />Linear Structure:<br />Beginning Middle End<br />(Audience introduced to (Events –story builds) (Closure)<br />characters and story)<br />Open Structure:<br />The audience are left to wonder what happens next and make sense of it <br />themselves (e.g. “Inception”)<br />Closed Structure:<br />Definite ending – clear conclusion for the audience<br />Circular Structure:<br />The narrative begins at the end events (often with the <br />Beginning climax). The audience are taking on a journey arriving <br />And end back where they started. (e.g. Pulp fiction)<br />?<br />!<br />
  7. 7. Narrative theorists<br />There are many theorists who use theory to explain narrative structure. We shall be studying four of them:<br /><ul><li>Vladimir Propp
  8. 8. Roland Barthes
  9. 9. Tzvetan Todorov
  10. 10. Claude Levi-Strauss</li></ul>* You will only need to know one or two for your exam*<br />
  11. 11. PROPP<br />Propp’s theory of narrative is driven by the characters using a set of narrative functions <br />Background: 1895 —1970 Vladimir Propp was a Russian scholar who analysed Russian folk tales (fairy tales) by their narrative structure. <br />Often used in Hollywood or Disney Films (with a happy ever after)<br />He identifies 8 ‘types’ of characters:<br /><ul><li>Hero (protagonist) has a mission of quest to complete (e.g.Luke Skywalker)
  12. 12. Villain (antagonist) tries to stop the hero (Darth Vader)
  13. 13. Princess love interest and/or object of the quest (Princess Leia)
  14. 14. Father person with knowledge (Leia)
  15. 15. Dispatcher sends the hero off (Obi Wan)
  16. 16. Donor gives the hero something to help him (Obi Wan)
  17. 17. Sidekick the helper (not as handsome as hero) –poss. comic relief (C3P0+)
  18. 18. False hero villain that pretends to be good in order to trick the hero</li></li></ul><li>Propp's 31 narrative functions<br />In addition to the characters Propp he says that it is narratemes (i.e. narrative functions)-events that drive the narrative forward:<br />Family member leaves home -Hero introduced <br />Hero given a warning (e.g. not to do something)<br />Hero ignores the warning<br />Villain appears (e.g. trying to find jewels / children etc.)<br />Villain gains information about the victim<br />Villain attempts to trick the victim (guise / trickery)<br />Victim/ Hero is fooled by the villain <br />Villain causes harm or injury <br />Misfortune or lack is made known to Hero <br />Hero decides on counter-action<br />Hero leaves home<br />Hero is tested by the Donor<br />Hero responds to the test<br />Hero acquires a magical agent<br />Location / hero change to the place of lack<br />Hero and Villain in direct combat<br />Hero is branded (wounded / scarred)<br />Villain is defeated (killed)<br />Lack is met -resolution<br />Hero goes back home<br />Hero is pursued<br />Hero is rescued <br />Unrecognised Hero arrives home / another country<br />False hero claims Hero’s success<br />Difficult task is set<br />Hero resolves the task<br />True Hero now recognised<br />False hero exposed<br />Hero given transformation (new appearance e.g. new clothes)<br />Villain is punished<br />Hero marries and ascends the throne <br />
  19. 19. Barthes<br />Barthes describes narrative as a series of codes that are read and interpreted by the audience<br /><ul><li>Action Code
  20. 20. Enigma Code
  21. 21. Semic Code
  22. 22. Symbolic Code
  23. 23. Referential Code</li></li></ul><li>Barthes Codes<br />Action Code: (proairetic code)<br />something the audience knows and doesn't need explaining e.g. someone being wheeled out on a stretcher tells us they are going to hospital<br />Enigma Code: (hermeneutic code)<br />something hidden from the audience (creates intrigue)<br />Semic Code:<br />something that the audience recognize through connotations<br />Symbolic Code:<br />Something that symbolizes a more abstract concept e.g. a darker than usual room of a murder scene could symbolize the depth of darkness and depravity <br />Cultural Code: (referential code)<br />Something that is read with understanding due to cultural awareness (e.g. youth culture use certain words that are understood by that culture)<br />
  24. 24. TODOROV<br />Todorov describes narrative as going from equilibrium to disequilibrium back to an altered equilibrium<br /><ul><li>Equilibrium
  25. 25. Disruption
  26. 26. Conflict
  27. 27. Resolution
  28. 28. New Equilibrium</li></li></ul><li>TODOROV<br />Equilibrium: (sets the scene)<br />Everyday Life<br />Disruption: (complication)<br />Something happens to alter the equilibrium<br />Conflict: (climax)<br />Trying to solve the problem (seek resolution)<br />Resolution:<br />Problem is sorted<br />New Equilibrium: (satisfactory end)<br />Back to normal (but never the same)- a new normal<br />
  29. 29. LEVI-STRAUSS<br />Levi-Strauss describes narrative as created by constant conflict of binary opposites<br />Love – Hate Black – White Man – Nature<br />Light – Darkness Peace – War Protagonist –Antagonist<br />Movement – Stillness Civilized – Savage Young – Old<br />Control – Panic Strong – Weak Man – Woman<br />Wealth – Poverty Mankind – Aliens Humans – Technology<br />Ignorance - Wisdom<br />“Sat Wars” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” “Avatar” “District 9”<br />“The Searchers” “Slumdog Millionaire” <br />Can you match them?<br />
  30. 30. Complex narrative structure<br />Today’s narratives have become increasingly complex as producers know that audiences have a greater sense of media literacy when it comes to making meaning of the text and reading the signs. There are often numerous plot twists and surprises that keep the audience intrigued with carefully spun storylines.<br />Films such as “Memento” (Nolan,2000)which weaves the story in reverse gives the audience a similar experience to the protagonist who has short term memory loss, as they try and fit the clues together through the use of restricted narrative.<br />Unrestricted Narrative: What the are assumed to know e.g. thriller there will be a crime so they will be expecting it<br />Restricted Narrative: The information that is withheld from the audience<br />Now test your knowledge:<br /><br />