Narrative theory

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  • 1. Todorov, Barthes, Propp, Strauss, Cameron

2. Suggested there are 5stages of narrative: (with 3major parts)1. EQUILIBRIUM (or normality)2. DISEQUILIBRIUM (conflict/disruption ofequilibrium by action or event3. Recognition of DISEQUILIBRIUM (disruption/conflict)4. Attempt to repair disequilibrium5. NEW EQUILIBRIUM (new normality) Simply, it is the equivalent to the classic structure ofbeginning, middle, end. 3. This disruption of the initial equilibrium motivates the cause/effect chainof events that makes the plot of the film. Stages 2, 3, 4 may berepeated many times over before we reach the final stage of newequilibrium (end). Hence, the edge of ourseats experience (anticipation) is maintained by the lack ofresolution. The full narrative structure establishes the audiencespleasure and satisfaction that are achieved by the resolution: happyending. Often, the new equilibrium involves a new state of being, where not onlyhas order been RESTORED, but, some kind of learning process orimprovement to life has taken place. In the case of franchise films (or trilogies), each film leaves the audiencewith some unfinished aspect of the plot in order to prepare them forthe sequel. Different genres will present this 5 stage process differently, occupyingdifferent typical disruptions and resolutions. 4. THINK OF DIFFERENT DISRUPTIONS/CONFLICTSAND RESOLUTIONS FOR DIFFERENT GENRES: Drama Action Horror Sci-fi ThrillerComplete this for YOUR genre 5. Believed that our world is described in BINARY OPPOSITES. Whenwe look at themes within stories and real life we realise theyconsist differences, contradictions and conflict or OPPOSITES. night/day good/bad dark/light male/female We subconsciously recognize the essential conflict in relation to narrativewhich familiarity in stories and films. Strauss believes these oppositions are fundamental to our ability to makemeanings of our lives. For example, we only understand good when it isopposed to evil. He believed opposition offered structure to texts includingstories, plays, books and films. In other media: Washing powder adverts: before/after contrast and effect to convinceyou to buy the product News reports: good/bad to present story simply 6. HERO VILLAINGood EvilNative OutsideLove HateHandsome UglyOne of the most obvious opposites in film is the opposition of hero/villain 7. SETTLERS NATIVEAMERICANSCivilised SavageChristian PaganOrdered societyTownOutside societyWildernessHandsome Scarred 8. GOOD EVILDay NightLight DarkChristian SupernaturalInnocence Violation 9. There is a key problem with his theory (whichis clear in above examples) Oppositions inevitably lead to a status ofhierarchy, one side has to win the conflict,which is tied to the structure of thenarrative. Of course, the audience are expected to agreeand favour the winning side. This can create a dangerous norm (exampleideology of white, handsome, big muscles,strong, brave, male hero 10. Similar to Todorovs theory, the audiences experience ofthe narrative involves ANTICIPATION and EXPECTATION ofa resolution to disruption/conflict; Barthes theory ofcodes encourage the audience to SEEK ANSWERS & CLUESto make them anticipate outcomes. Identified these by codes: Enigma Code Action Code Semantic Code Symbolic Code Cultural Code 11. Narratives set up as puzzles to be solved (ex contentof letter, what is in a box/briefcase, why is killerkilling a victim) It is basically portraying a mystery and raisingquestions as way to intrigue/draw in the audience Can be applied to any text, a story, a poster, film etc. These enigmas delay the ending/resolution tomaintain audience interest and anticipation Answer to enigmas contribute to our enjoyment ofresolution (new equilibrium) (in mainstream films) Sometimes enigmas left unresolved (often in lessmainstream films) 12. Usually thriller, mystery based in which thequestion is Who is the killer and/or Why arethey killing people Example:SawWho isresponsible?Why arethey there? 13. Codes of behaviour and actions that leadaudience us to expect certain consequences(based on other stories/films and theirconventions) 14. THRILLER/MYSTERY SLASHER/HORROR ROMANCEAction:A) Killer/villain walks into roomwith gun/weaponB) Girl hiding from killer/villainAction:A) Going into dark alley or darkstairwell/room aloneB) Being promiscuous orflirty/suggestiveC) Virgin, good hearted femaleAction:Couple realise their actions andacknowledge their mistakes toeach otherAssumption:A) Victim(s) will get shot/hurtB) Girl will get found/takenAssumption:A) Will get killedB) Will get killedC) Will liveAssumption:They will kiss and make up 15. Connotative (connotation) meanings ofcharacters, objects, locations We learn from experience about thesedenotations & connotations Iconographic features work in same way 16. Pretty Woman American Beauty Carrie(Romance/Drama) (Drama) (Thriller/horror)Red dress =sexuality and love/passionRoses = sexuality/sexual desireBlood =Murder and violence 17. Hero ishandsome,manly,goodheartedVillain isdisfigured, not asstrong/, evil andselfish 18. Iconographic features have clear connotationsand meanings to audience Spaceships & Aliens = sci-fi 19. Basically, it is the symbolism attached toimages. Example = the title and concept of the film fish tank is symbolic that the maincharacter is like a trapped fish in a tank.OR..soft top car = freedom Symbolic features often signify oppositionsand antitheses (savage/civilized, light/dark) Ex. in Thelma & Louise = male repressive world and female escape (this isrepresented/expressed symbolically through interiors/actions ofmale/female.....male = dark, trapped, repressive, abusive......female =light, free, airy, justice etc 20. Even after committed crime, have toregrets and want to keep running, keepcommitting crimesFeeling positive and free after leavingrepressive marriages, are together andThelma saves Louise (free in sunshine)Drive away in open space, drive forward(running away), dont look backIn convertible = open space (freedom)Even when about to get caught, drive offedge (to not be constricted in jail) 21. Louises husband isunsuccessful, abusiveand controllingThe young man Louisesleeps with seemscharming, but is acriminal and a thief whosteals their moneyThe man Louise meetsin a bar is drunk,creepy, abusive andrapes her after sherefuses sexThelmashusband has agood heart butisnt a man ofachievement orsuccessThe truck driver who drives besidethem when they are driving is alonesome and desperate man, isrestricted to be in a truck all dayand night 22. Outside of text and knowledge we commonly share to bring understandingof the meaning in the text. Often references to things in popular culture andhistorical events. Ex In modern adaption of Romeo & Juliet there are a wide range of modern interpretations weknow as modern (were not in original story): guns, corporations, locations such as petrol stations,setting in multicultural environment, drag queens, drugs, cars, lifts, etc 23. We use our these cultural references to ENHANCE our reading andunderstanding of the text Sometimes films are set and revolve around a particular (real) historicalevent or era....our understanding of these time periods or events againenhances our understanding. Example: Full Monty = set in a time which is dealing with a financial recession due todecline in traditional British industries (Think of films that are set around the eventsof 9/11 or other wars. 24. Studied folklore, fairytales and legends inmany countries and noticed many similaritiesin them; similar character types and sameproblems. He formed a theories, the first is about7 distinctive character types called Spheresof Action. Because they are based on historic fairy tales and folklore, this theory might seemvery recognizable and rather simplistic. Just remember these stories are often childrens tales which need to be simplistic. 25. 1. Hero 2. Villain 3. Dispatcher 4. Donor 5. Helper 6. Heroine 7. False Hero 26. On quest/search Traditionally male (not always) protagonist,role is to restore disequilibrium (usually bydefeating the villain for winning love ofheroine (princess) 27. Starts hero on its way (usually to restore thedisequilibrium) Often father of heroine He (or she) sends hero off so he can prove hisworth (often before winning love of heroine) 28. Opposes the hero (antihesis) Cause of disruption Often threat to safety of heroine 29. Helps hero by giving him magic tool/gift tohelp him on journey The tool/gift may be advice, a skill or anobject such as weapon 30. Assists/helps hero in restoringnormality/equilibrium Like a sidekick (with for whole or part ofjourney...can meet on way) 31. Initially on side of hero but then turns againstor deceives him/her Tempts hero away from questN/A 32. Brother of King Mufasa, uncle to Simba Seems caring of Simba Tempts him but really sets him up to bekilled (so he can be King) 33. Often referred to as Princess in traditional narratives Usually female but not always More passive and vulnerable character; threatened bythe villain and needing rescuing by the hero Often in love (or ends up with hero) 34. Of course these character roles are manipulated and changed in films and texts (orsome not there at all) and others will use more updated/modern versions forexample different representation/actions of heroine to suit more modern contextswhich reflect the changing role of women in society.Examples of Female Protagonists in Action genre: Thelma & Louise (hero and heroines) Alien franchise + Kill Bill (power is weakened by maternal instincts) While these female characters are vulnerable, they at least have become moredominant in terms of their role and importance to the plot rather than simply being aprize to a male hero. They have their own weapons, fight scenes, so therefore theSpheres of Action (character roles) have become more blurred. 35. Dieges