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Introducing ‘narrative’ August 2006. 2 What does narrative mean?  The way that stories are told, how meaning is constructed to achieve the understanding.

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Presentation on theme: "Introducing ‘narrative’ August 2006. 2 What does narrative mean?  The way that stories are told, how meaning is constructed to achieve the understanding."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introducing ‘narrative’ August 2006

2 2 What does narrative mean?  The way that stories are told, how meaning is constructed to achieve the understanding of the audience.  Groups events into cause and effect – action and inaction.  Organises time and space in very compressed form.  The voice of the narrative can vary; whose story is being told and from whose perspective?  Narrative plot refers to everything audibly or visibly present, i.e. selective.  Narrative story refers to all the events, explicitly presented or referred.  In film, narrative is constructed through elements like camerawork, lighting, sound, mise-en-scene and editing.

3 3 Why is narrative important to us?  As children we listen to fairytales and myths/legends. As we grow older, we read short stories, novels, history and biographies.  Religion is often presented through a collection of stories/moral tales e.g. the Koran, the Bible, the Ramayana, etc.  Scientific breakthrough is often presented as stories of an experimenter/scientist’s trials.  Cultural phenomena such as plays, films, dance and paintings tell stories.  News events are told as stories.  Dreams are retold as stories. We use narratives or stories to make sense of our lives and the world around us. There different ways in which we use the narrative form:

4 4 Approaches to studying narrative  There are many ways of looking at and thinking about narratives.  For nearly 2300 years various ‘thinkers’, philosophers and theorists have tried to explain how narratives work.

5 5 Aristotle Over 2000 years ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that all narratives have:  a beginning  a middle  an end

6 6 Five-stage narrative structure  Exposition – setting scene and introducing characters ▫Little Red Riding Hood has to take food to grandmother who is ill  Development – situation develops, more characters introduced ▫She sets out through woods where wolf is lurking  Complication – something happens to complicate lives of characters ▫She meets wolf, he delays her and rushes ahead and ties up grandmother  Climax – decisive moment reached; matters come to head; suspense high ▫She arrives, comments on size of grandmother’s ears, etc., Wolf eats her up  Resolution – matters are resolved and satisfactory end is reached ▫Wolf falls asleep, passing forester investigates noise, rescues grandmother from cupboard and Red Riding Hood by cutting Wolf’s stomach open

7 7 Todorov’s approach to narrative  Todorov suggests that all narratives begin with equilibrium or an initial situation (where everything is balanced).  This is followed by some form of disruption, which is later resolved.  With the resolution at the end of the narrative a new equilibrium is usually established.

8 8 Todorov’s approach to narrative There are five stages a narrative has to pass through: 1.The state of equilibrium (state of normality – good, bad or neutral). 2.An event disrupts the equilibrium (a character or an action). 3.The main protagonist recognises that the equilibrium has been disrupted. 4.Protagonist attempts to rectify this in order to restore equilibrium. 5.Equilibrium is restored but, because causal transformations have occurred, there are differences (good, bad, or neutral) from original equilibrium, which establish it as a new equilibrium.

9 9 Propp’s approach to narrative  Vladimir Propp studied hundreds of Russian folk and fairytales before deciding that all narratives have a common structure.  He observed that narratives are shaped and directed by certain types of characters and specific kinds of actions  He believed that there are 31 possible stages or functions in any narrative.  These may not all appear in a single story, but nevertheless always appear in the same sequence.  A function is a plot motif or event in the story.  A tale may skip functions but it cannot shuffle their unvarying order.

10 10 Propp’s approach to narrative  Villain  struggles with hero  Donor  prepares and/or provides hero with magical agent  Helper  assists, rescues, solves and/or transfigures the hero  Princess  a sought-for person (and/or her father) who exists as goal and often recognises and marries hero and/or punishes villain  Dispatcher  sends hero off  Hero  departs on a search (seeker-hero), reacts to donor and weds at end  False Hero  claims to be the hero, often seeking and reacting like a real hero Propp believed that there are seven roles which any character may assume in the story:

11 11 Propp’s 31 narrative functions Preparatory section 1.One of members of a family absents him/herself from home 2.An interdiction (ban) is addressed to the hero 3.Interdiction is violated (villain usually enters story here) 4.Villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find children/jewels etc. or intended victim questions villain) 5.Villain receives information about victim (villain gets an answer) 6.Villain attempts to deceive victim by using persuasion, magic or deception (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim) 7.Victim submits to deception and thereby unwittingly helps enemy (hero sleeps)

12 12 Villainy/lack (plot set in motion) 8.Villain causes harm or injury to member of a family (e.g. abduction, theft, casts spell on someone). Alternatively, a member of family lacks something, desires or desires to have something (magical potion, etc.). 9.Misfortune or lack is made known: hero is approached with a request or command; hero allowed to go or is dispatched. 10.Seeker (hero) agrees to or decides upon counteractions. 11.Hero leaves home interrogated, attacked, etc. which prepares way for receiving magical agent or helper (donor usually enters story here). 12.Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers. 13.Hero is tested against them.

13 13 14.Hero acquires use of magical agent (directly transferred, purchased, etc.). 15.Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of object of search. Path A: Struggle and victory over villain; end of lack and return 16.Hero and villain join in direct combat. 17.Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf). 18.Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, etc.). 19.The initial misfortune or lack is liquidated (object of search distributed; spell broken, slain person revived, captive freed). 20.Hero returns. 21.Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero). 22.Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides, etc.).

14 14 Path B: Unrecognised arrival, task, recognition, punishment, wedding 23.Hero, unrecognised, arrived home or in another country. 24.False hero presents unfounded claims. 25.Difficult task is proposed to hero (trial by drink, riddle, test of strength). 26.Task is resolved or accomplished. 27.Hero is recognised, often by mark or object. 28.False hero or villain is exposed and/or punished. 29.Hero is given new appearance (is made whole, handsome, etc.). 30.Villain is pursued. 31.Hero is married and ascends throne.

15 15 Claude Levi-Strauss’s approach to narrative  After studying hundreds of myths and legends from around the world, Levi- Strauss observed that we make sense of the world, people and events by seeing and using binary opposites everywhere.  He observed that all narratives are organised around the conflict between such binary opposites.

16 16 Examples of binary opposites  Good vs evil  Black vs white  Boy vs girl  Peace vs war  Civilised vs savage  Democracy vs dictatorship  Conqueror vs conquered  First world vs third world  Domestic vs foreign/alien  Articulate vs inarticulate  Young vs old  Man vs nature  Protagonist vs antagonist  Action vs inaction  Motivator vs observer  Empowered vs victim  Man vs woman  Good-looking vs ugly  Strong vs weak  Decisive vs indecisive  East vs west  Humanity vs technology  Ignorance vs wisdom

17 17 Joseph Campbell’s approach to narrative  After comparing the myths, legends and religions of various cultures in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell observed that most narratives follow a common pattern of the mythic hero quest, journey or monomyth.  Campbell believed that most narratives, regardless of their time, place or culture, follow the same narrative stages and contain universally recognisable characters and situations i.e. archetypes. The Hero’s Journey

18 18 Archetypes Examples of character archetypes  Hero (Arthur, Theseus, Simba)  Shadow (Scar, Minotaur, Voldermort)  Outcast (Cain, Ancient Mariner)  Devil figure (Lucifer, Anakin/Darth Vader)  Woman figure: –Earth mother (Mother Nature) –Temptress (Eve, Sirens, Delilah) –Platonic ideal (Dante's Beatrice) –Unfaithful wife (Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary)  Wise old man (Merlin, Rafiki, Yoda, Dumbledore) Archetypes are recurring character types (and relationships), and/or patterns of symbols or situations found in mythology, religion and stories of all cultures.

19 19 Archetypes Situation archetypes  Quest (Holy Grail, Ahab)  Initiation (Huck Finn, Stand by Me)  Fall (Paradise Lost, Darth Vader)  Death and Rebirth (Christ, Hercules) Archetypal symbols  Light–darkness  Water–desert  Heaven–Hell

20 20 Campbell’s monomyth Departure, separation  World of common day  Call to adventure  Refusal of the call  Supernatural aid  Crossing the first threshold  Belly of the whale Descent, initiation, penetration  Road of trials  Meeting with the goddess Stages of the hero’s journey:

21 21 Campbell’s monomyth  Woman as temptress  Atonement with the father  Apotheosis  The ultimate boon Return  The refusal of the return  The magic flight  Rescue from within  Closing the threshold  Return  Master of the two worlds  Freedom to live

22 22 Chris Vogler and the hero’s journey in Hollywood  Chris Vogler, story analyst for various Hollywood film companies, was inspired by Campbell when he wrote his book, The Writer's Journey.  Vogler developed and simplified Campbell’s stages of the hero’s journey. Emphasises importance of mythic structure and mythic archetypes when constructing screenplays and analysing ‘classic’ examples of film.  Vogler argues that great films are such because they ‘have an appeal that can be felt by everyone, because they well up from a universal source in the shared unconscious and reflect universal concerns’.  Vogler’s re-definition of character archetypes and the 12 'stages' of the hero's journey has become very influential in Hollywood.

23 23 Vogler’s 12 stages of the hero’s journey 1.Ordinary world 2.Call to adventure 3.Refusal of the call 4.Meeting with the mentor 5.Crossing the first threshold 6.Tests, allies, enemies 7.Approach to the inmost cave 8.Supreme ordeal 9.Reward (seizing the sword) 10.The road back 11.Resurrection 12.Return with the elixir

24 24 Vogler’s archetypes and their functions 1. Hero  to serve and sacrifice 2. Mentor  to guide 3. Threshold guardian  to test 4. Shapeshifter  to question and deceive 5. Shadow  to destroy

25 25 Summary  Aristotle  beginning, middle and end  Todorov  equilibrium  disequilibrium  re-equilibrium  Propp  31 Functions  Levi-Strauss  binary oppositions  Campbell  Monomyth and archetypes  Vogler  12 stages and archetypes

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