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Media Language: Narrative

Where do we see or hear stories? • TV Programmes • Novels or short stories • Films • Advertisements • News: Print & Broadcast • Via the internet • Through talk, ‘gossip’ and chat.

Plot? Narrative? Story? Plot = everything visibly and audibly present in the text; what the reader observes. Story = all events of the narrative, both explicit and implicit – what the reader understands. Narrative = plot + story Narrative is a chain of events in a cause and effect relationship in time and space.

What is narrative? It is the telling of stories; how they are organised, structured and how they are understood. It is not just about the information that it imparts. A chain of events with a beginning, middle and end that embodies a judgement about the nature of events. Story and plot can overlap. The plot clearly presents certain story events. The story goes beyond the plot, suggesting events that we never witness.

Once upon a time • Many of us experience our first story at a very young age, possibly beginning with the immortal phrase of countless fairy tales, ‘Once upon a time…’ • What does this phrase really mean to us? • “Once” = • “Once” invites us into the narrative world which is set in the past; indeed, most narratives are recounted in the past tense. • “upon a time” = • Situates us in a world we know is different to our own, in a time that is not now.

Write down quickly what story you expect to happen after the line below. ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ I think ................................................................

Narrative theories Theorists worked to discover a structure to narratives to show the inherent similarities between stories from different cultures.

Key theorists: Tzvetan Todorov Vladimir Propp Claude Levi Strauss Roland Barthes

Tzetvan Todorov

reduced narrative to a simple recurring formula

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 a new/different equilibrium. Eg. Titanic • Rose is engaged • Rose then leaves her fiance for Jack; Jack then dies • Rose continues her life as an independent woman

Tzetvan Todorov The name of the film

How it applies to Todorov’s theory

Vladimir Propp His ideas of narrative suggested: • Narrative structure can be determined by role • Character roles help us understand the constructed nature of the narrative • There are eight character roles • There are 31 functions to character Propps helps us understand that each character role has a purpose within the narrative and audience identification.

Vladimir Propp 1. the villain, who struggles with the hero 2. the hero, who departs on a search reacts to the donor 3. the dispatcher, sends hero on a mission 4. the false hero (antihero), who claims to be the hero, often seeking and reacting like a real hero 5. the donor, offers a gift with magical properties 6. the helper, aids the hero 7. the Princess, who exists as a goal or reward and often recognises and marries the hero and/or punishes villain 8. The Father, rewards the hero Titanic clip

Vladimir Propp Each of the 8 character roles can be filled in ‘Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets’: The villain – Tom Riddle (Lord Voldmort) The hero – Harry Potter The donor – the Phoenix provides sorting hat, which provides a sword The helper who aids the hero – Ron Weasley The princess – Ginny Weasley Her father – Dumbledore, he rewards Harry, however is not the father but may be looked up to as a father figure The dispatcher – Moaning Myrtle, helps show the entrance to the chamber. The false hero – Professor Gilderoy Lockhart

Claude Levi-Strauss • He suggested that the production of meaning depended on the concept of binary oppositions. • This involves looking at the conflict between two qualities and understanding how the text produces meaning by the setting up of these oppositions.

Claude Levi-Strauss A classic example is the traditional Western genre: Settlers vs. Native Americans Christian vs. Pagan Domestic vs. Savage Weak vs. Strong Good vs. evil

Claude Levi-Strauss Binary oppositions in ‘Lord of the Ring’ (Jackson,: Peace vs. War Good vs. Evil Hope vs. Fear Compassion vs. Indifference Bravery vs. Cowardice Nature vs. Machinery

Roland Barthes • Argued that narrative is told through a series of codes that are used to control the way in which information is given to the audience. • Two most important being: Enigma codes and Action codes

Roland Barthes • Enigma code = A narrative device that teases the audience by presenting a puzzle or riddle to be solved. An obvious example is a detective story in which the audience is invited to solve the puzzle of ‘whodunnit’ by interpreting the clues.

• Action code = A narrative device by which a resolution is produced through action e.g. a shoot-out, violence; often by the hero. Matrix clip

Narrative is ..... • Important to non-fiction as well as fictional texts e.g. Newspaper articles, television documentaries, radio current affairs programme. • Refers to a way in which the a media text ‘talks to’ its audience and influences the way the audience will respond to the text.

Relationship between Narrative and Genre • A study of different genres in film and television will suggest that the formula requires the narrative to be closed in a different way for each genre. • “Both are means in which the world of human experience can be reconstructed, rearranged and reimagined.” - H.Newcomb (2004)


Media Language: Narrative Where do we see or hear stories? • TV Programmes • Novels or short stories • Films • Advertisements • News: Print...