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Antar Abdellah.  This chapter will look into narratives and precisely characterization, i.e. how characters are set up and developed and plot, i.e. how.

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Presentation on theme: "Antar Abdellah.  This chapter will look into narratives and precisely characterization, i.e. how characters are set up and developed and plot, i.e. how."— Presentation transcript:

1 Antar Abdellah

2  This chapter will look into narratives and precisely characterization, i.e. how characters are set up and developed and plot, i.e. how the actions and events unfold.  It will explore how plot and characterization are configured for literary effect, and the relationship between them and their literary value.


4 Plot refers to what happens in the story - events and thoughts which make up the story's basic structure. The plot is usually composed of an introduction, rising action, a climax, falling action and an ending that ties the story together. All plots contain a conflict: a struggle between two or more opposing forces. The conflict may be internal (person vs. self) or external (person vs. person, person vs. nature, person vs. society, or person vs. fate). Exploring plot in narratives implies searching what is the story about? What are the main events in the story, and how are they related to each other? Are the main events of the story arranged chronologically, or are they arranged in another way?

5  For Michael Toolan, plot is primarily about change over time. He employs in part a concept from traditional grammar labeled : finiteness.  Verbs in finite form, such as ‘she stands’ carry, in part, information about time (present or past tense). Verbs in non-finite form such as ‘She saw Frank standing on the quayside’ do not carry information about time.  In view of Toolan, the use of finite verb forms in the past may indicate moments of a narrative which are crucial to plot. This is because finite verb forms when used in the past can indicate change over time. However, change over time can be indicated in other ways.

6 Characters in fiction refers to people's outward appearance and behavior and also their inner emotional, intellectual, and moral qualities. A character is a person who populates a literary work, and an author uses characterization to show the character to the reader. protagonist antagonist The main character in a story is called the protagonist [hero or heroine], and the character or characters who oppose the protagonist are called the antagonist. Characters are usually the driving forces behind some plots, and the plots would simply collapse or become non-existent without them.

7  Characterization is the method used by a writer to develop a character, and this method includes: appearance  (1) showing the character's appearance, actions  (2) displaying the character's actions, thoughts  (3) revealing the character's thoughts, speak  (4) letting the character speak, and reactions  (5) getting the reactions of others 

8  Vladimir Propp asserted that fairy tales could be studied and compared by examining their most basic plot components.  The formalist Vladimir Propp developed an analysis that reduced fairy tales to a series of actions performed by the dramatis personae in each story.  Dramatis personæ  Dramatis personæ refers the main characters in a dramatic work. Propp argued that all fairy tales were constructed of certain plot elements, which he called functions, and that these elements consistently occurred in a uniform sequence.  Based on a study of one hundred folk tales, Propp devised a list of 31 generic functions, proposing that they encompassed all of the plot components from which fairy tales were constructed.  Function is understood as the act of a character, defined from the point of view of its significance for the course of the action. Functions of characters serve as stable, constant elements in a tale, independent of how and by whom they are fulfilled. They constitute the fundamental components of a tale.  The number of functions known to the fairy tale is limited.

9 7  Vladimir Propp concluded that all the characters could be resolved into 7 broad character types or [Dramatis Personaecharacter  The villain — struggles against the hero.villain  The dispatcher — character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off.dispatcher  The (magical) helper — helps the hero in their quest.helper  The princess or prize — the hero deserves her throughout the story but is unable to marry her because of an unfair evil, usually because of the villain. The hero's journey is often ended when he marries the princess, thereby beating the villain.prize  The donor — prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.donor  The hero or victim/seeker hero — reacts to the donor, weds the princess.hero  False hero — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess. False hero

10  For Vladimir Propp, a function represents the fundamental deep structure of narrative.  He lists thirty-one functions from which actions follow in Russian fairy-tales.  The same act can have a different function depending on the narrative: killing the King can be seen either as an unforgiveable murder, or an act of release for an oppressed people, and each tale takes the following sequence of 31 functions:

11  ABSENTATION  ABSENTATION: A member of a family leaves the security of the home environment.  INTERDICTION  INTERDICTION: An interdiction is addressed to the hero ('don't go there', 'don't do this').  VIOLATION of INTERDICTION  VIOLATION of INTERDICTION. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale).  RECONNAISSANCE  RECONNAISSANCE: The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance. They may speak with a member of the family who innocently divulges information. They may also seek to meet the hero, perhaps knowing already the hero is special in some way.  DELIVERY  DELIVERY: The villain gains information about the victim.  TRICKERY  TRICKERY: The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim)  COMPLICITY  COMPLICITY: Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy. The trickery of the villain now works and the hero or victim naively acts in a way that helps the villain.

12  VILLAINY or LACK  VILLAINY or LACK: Villain causes harm/injury to family member.  There are two options for this function, either or both of which may appear in the story. In the first option, the villain causes some kind of harm, for example carrying away a victim.  In the second option, a sense of lack is identified, for example in the hero's family or within a community, whereby something is identified as lost or something becomes desirable for some reason, for example a magical object that will save people in some way.

13  MEDIATION  MEDIATION: Misfortune or lack is made known. The hero now discovers the act of villainy or lack, perhaps finding their family or community devastated or caught up in a state of anguish and woe.  BEGINNING COUNTER-ACTION  BEGINNING COUNTER-ACTION: Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action. The hero now decides to act in a way that will resolve the lack  DEPARTURE  DEPARTURE: Hero leaves home;  FIRST FUNCTION OF THE DONOR  FIRST FUNCTION OF THE DONOR: Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc., preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor);  HERO'S REACTION  HERO'S REACTION: Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers against him);  RECEIPT OF A MAGICAL AGENT  RECEIPT OF A MAGICAL AGENT: Hero acquires use of a magical agent (directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, eaten/drunk, help offered by other characters);

14  GUIDANCE  GUIDANCE: Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search;  STRUGGLE  STRUGGLE: Hero and villain join in direct combat;  BRANDING  BRANDING: Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf);  VICTORY  VICTORY: Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished);  LIQUIDATION  LIQUIDATION: Initial misfortune or lack is resolved  RETURN  RETURN: Hero returns;  PURSUIT  PURSUIT: Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero);  RESCUE  RESCUE: Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life);  UNRECOGNIZED ARRIVAL  UNRECOGNIZED ARRIVAL: Hero unrecognized, arrives home or in another country;  UNFOUNDED CLAIMS  UNFOUNDED CLAIMS: False hero presents unfounded claims;  DIFFICULT TASK  DIFFICULT TASK: Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks);  SOLUTION  SOLUTION: Task is resolved;  RECOGNITION  RECOGNITION: Hero is recognized (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her);  EXPOSURE  EXPOSURE: False hero or villain is exposed;  TRANSFIGURATION  TRANSFIGURATION: Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc.);  PUNISHMENT  PUNISHMENT: Villain is punished;  WEDDING  WEDDING: Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted)

15 Characters are so crucial to the plot in narratives. According to Vladimir Propp, character is very much subordinate to analysis of events; and in view of Algirdas Julius Greimas (1983) analytical scheme in Structural Semantics, events are subordinate to character. actant From an inherency perspective Greimas [1983] coined the term actant as a way of classifying types of 'deep' narrative agent, equivalent to Propp's 'dramatis persona'. In view of Greimas there are six actants : subject, object, sender, receiver, helper, and opponent. However, an actant is not the same as a character, since an actant can be constructed out of a number of characters. Because Greimas’ focus was character, he wanted also to make his scheme less restrictive than Propp’s character roles, such as Propp’s use of ‘HERO’ or VILLAIN’. As a result, Greimas introduced more generic roles such as SUBJECT and OBJECT. Another reason for doing this was to account for character perspectives more richly than that of HERO.

16 SUBJECT  Greimas‘ actant,SUBJECT, is not to be confused with the grammatical subject of a clause.  The same applies for the actant and the grammatical object. In fact, OBJECT then in Greimas’ scheme is not necessarily a person; it can be a thing which is desired.  A- Relationship of desire   Greimasian analysis of characters in a narrative can be schematized as follows : 


18  Functional grammar  Functional grammar, which was developed by Michael Halliday[1960].  In other words, while accounting for the structure of language,a functional approach to grammar places emphasis on describing words or groups of words according to their function within a clause.  Process  Process as a technical term in Systemic Functional grammar has a slightly different meaning from its everyday usage. It is used in two senses: (i) to refer to what is going on in the whole clause, and (ii) to refer to that part of the proposition encoded in the Verbal Group. Processes can be subdivided into different types:  Material Process, Mental Process and Verbal Process  Material Process, Mental Process and Verbal Process.  The Participants are the entities involved in the Process, they are mostly humans, but gender, age and nationality are less important for the particular Processes involved than the fact that they are human, or at least animate.  For example : The boy broke the window pane. Regarding the circumstances, they mean the words which relate to adverbs of place, time and manner: He goes to the gym at night

19  The prototypical action-type clause in traditional school grammars is classified in Systemic Functional Grammar as a Material Process clause.  Actually, Material Processes involve 'doing words'. In an action-oriented narrative, such Processes tend to occur frequently, though they are by no means the only type.  Consider the following sentence : Jerry took the money, picked up a hat from the table and walked out.  This sentence contains 4 clauses and each clause includes a Material Process.  A-1 Actor and Goal  In clause 1 Jerry is explicitly the performer of the action described by the Process took. Therefore, Jerry is labeled as Actor  As a result, the money in this clause is labeled Goal. A similar analysis applies to Example (2); the elliptical Subject Jerry is Actor; and a hat is Goal; and from the table is a Circumstance, However, examples (1) and (2) differ grammatically from (3) and (4) in one important respect.  Basically, in (3) and (4) we have again a Material Process, but this time there is only one Participant in each: the elliptical Jerry in (3) and he in (4), but there is no Goal involved in the Process. The Process realized by the verb returned is not extended from the Actor he to any other entity.

20  Therefore, the verbs in [3] and [4] are intransitive.

21  B-Mental Process  Some processes involve not material action but phenomena which refer to states of mind or psychological events. Therefore, these processes are labeled Mental Processes.  Mental Processes tend to be realized through the use of verbs like think, know, feel, smell, hear, see, want, like, hate, please, repel, admire, enjoy, fear, frighten.  Consider the following example: He knew what speed was.  We cannot interpret the Process as an action, so we can deduce that it is not a Material Process.  (1) He didn't recognize me  (2) We heard an explosion.  (3) I didn't know your phone number. Mental Processes  (4) She doesn't want to study.  (5) They dislike their arrogant manger.

22  In all these examples the Subject is the one who experiences the Process. For obvious reasons, this Participant is labeled Senser.  What is experienced is given the label Phenomenon.  The examples cited all have the same Participant roles in the same order: Senser, Mental Process, Phenomenon,  It happens that in all these examples the Senser is realized as Subject and the Phenomenon as Complement, but this is not always the case.


24  C-Verbal Process  Speaking is certainly a kind of action, and to some extent it would not be unreasonable to treat it as Material Process. But has some features of Mental Process, especially if we believe that verbalization of thoughts is a kind of inner speech. Consider the example below : (1) He said, 'If I'm free, I'll pass by later this evening"  In this example, we have the person who produces the utterance, to whom we give the self-explanatory title of Sayer; the Verbal Process itself, realized here as said; and the representation of the words actually spoken, which in this context we label Quoted. Quoted  The function Quoted is realized as Direct Speech. The wording is identical to that initially uttered by the Sayer, or at least, it is presented as though it were identical.  On the other hand, there is a Verbal Process where the words of the Sayer are transposed in line with the perspective of the speaker or writer who is reporting the speech. This involves Indirect (Reported) Speech, as in, such as in : ( 2) I said I wanted to relax for a while.

25  Here I is Sayer and I wanted to relax for a while is Reported. It is worthwhile to retain that the Reported element itself contains clauses and so it could be further analyzed in terms of Process and Participant. There are various ordering possibilities with this type of Process, particularly with the direct speech form. The most neutral or unmarked ordering is Sayer-Process-Quoted,

26  Relational Processes are typically realized by the verb be or some verbs of the same class known as copular verbs, such as seem, become, appear, for example : She appeared cheerful or sometimes by verbs such as have, own, possess.  In SFPCA terms, they typically have a Subject and an Intensive Complement.  Relational Processes include: Attributive & Identifying Processes:

27  Attributive Process ascribes an attribute to some entity as in : (1) She was hungry again.

28  If traditional grammar is to a large extent concerned with linguistic form as Michael Toolan stylistic analysis reveals through his use of a traditional grammatical term, ‘finiteness’. Finiteness is a formal property of a verb whether a verb carries endings which signal tense (e.g. she plays/ played) or not (e.g. she saw him playing).  Functional grammar is, on the other hand, much more concerned with linguistic function. It is concerned with how grammatical form works or functions to make meaning. Consider the following:  Eveline continued to sit by the window  This clause includes two verbs, ‘continued’ and ‘to sit’. At the level of linguistic form, we can say that ‘continued’ is finite, and ‘to sit’ is non-finite.  But how are these verb forms functioning in the sentence to lead us to make meaning in our heads? If we imagine Eveline here we do not think of two different actions, ‘continuing’ and ‘sitting’, that she is performing.

29  In understanding the meaning here, we think instead of one process.  In the functional grammar devised by Michael Halliday, this would be referred to as one process realized by two verb forms :  The process ‘continued to sit refers to as a material action process. These are processes which involve physical activity and are concerned with who or what does an action and to whom.

30  In Halliday’s grammar, processes are accompanied by different ‘roles’ which have different functions. Consider the examples below:  1-He chased the burly girlies  2- He was slashed by the burly girlies  Basically, these two clauses have different forms and functions. The subject, he’, is the same. It is the third-person, masculine subject pronoun. In other words, the subject has the same grammatical form in both these clauses. If they have two functions, it is because in the first sentence above, ‘he’ is doing the chasing; the grammatical form of the masculine subject pronoun is realizing the role of AGENT as illustrated below:

31 In the second clause the subject ‘He’ is not the AGENT, but 'the burly girlies' are. ‘He’ is being done to and is thus functioning as a different role, the role of AFFECTED. Roles such as AGENT and AFFECTED which function at the level of the clause are known in Hallidayan functional grammar as participant roles. There are other types of participant role for other processes which are related to Transitivity. Actually, transitivity analysis is usually performed on clauses in texts rather than just single clauses; and this analysis has parallels with Greimasian analysis of the relationships between actants. Greimasian analysis, being at the level of plot, is a macro-level analysis of relationships between characters in a narrative. When focusing on characters, Hallidayan transitivity analysis of narrative is a micro-level analysis of relationships between characters in a clause.

32 Hemingway  Martin Montgomery initially produces a Greimasian actant representation of characters in the Hemingway story. macro-level  This is a macro-level representation, at the level of plot, of relationships between the revolutionist and other characters in the story. role analysis  However with Halliday’s functional grammar he is able to produce a participant role analysis which is both qualitative and quantitative. qualitative  It is qualitative in that it reveals particular types of participant role for the revolutionist.  Since it is also quantitative, we can compare different numbers of participant roles.

33 Thus, Montgomery shows that Greimas’ scheme is usefully synthetic in that it nicely accommodates ambiguity in characterization. The ambiguity of characterization here could not be accommodated in Propp’s scheme. From a Formalist poetic point of view, the Hemingway story is seemingly not so interesting. There is little use of poetic literariness. Literariness instead derives from the choice of participant roles, which create ambiguity of character.

34 This chapter has explored characterization and plot in a number of different narratives. It has highlighted the limitations with Propp’s framework for dealing with subtle linking of plot and characterization. To capture this subtlety, Greimas’ framework analysis at clause level was introduced. Likewise, it has been underscored that optimum conditions for literariness in relation to plot and characterization have some interdependency. This chapter has also indicated how a sociocultural perspective could be used. This chapter has also stressed that stylistic analysis of narrative can draw on a number of tools for studying linguistic form and function, and that these tools are useful for helping to articulate how a good literary writer draws a reader into a story through tensions, indeterminacies and ambiguities in plot and characterization.

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