assignment 8: narrative theory

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Assignment 8: Narrative theory

By Laura Cuk

PART A: Todorov

Todorov Narrative Theory

Todorov suggested that stories begin with an equilibrium (or normality).

This is disrupted by an event which causes a disequilibrium which then causes other chain of events to occur.

- In the end the problem is solved and everything is restored back to its equilibrium.

Task 1

This is the first task for Todorov's theory.I had to analyse disruption/conflicts and then the resolutions in each of these genres.

Todorov suggests that there are 5 stages of narrative:

Equilibrium (or normality).

Disequilibrium (conflict/disruption of equilibrium by action or event).

Recognition of Disequilibrium (disruption/conflict).

Attempt to repair.

New Equilibrium.

An example of a film with these five stages is The Hunger Games.Task 2


In the beginning of the film everything is at equilibrium and its just introducing the main protagonist.

The main protagonist- Teenage girlKatniss has gone beyond her district to hunt in the forest.Her hunting in the woods represents her practice for the Hunger Games if she was ever to be chosen.


Then we have the disequilibrium/disruption caused by the event when Katniss sister gets chosen to be tribute. Katniss then volunteers as tribute. This is a sign of self-sacrifice.

Her relationship with her sister is very strong.

Katniss was willing to sacrifice her own life to save her sister.

Recognition of disequilibrium

Katniss then recognises what she has gotten herself into.

She promises her sister that will try and win the game for her.Katniss knows that she probably might not be able to see her family again.The tragic part of this is that she doesnt have much time to say goodbye.

Attempt to repair disequilibrium

Katniss attempts to live throughout the film.She is surrounded by difficulties.Examples:

The game makers create a huge fire to kill or lure Katniss to the centre of the game where the other district are.

The death of little Rue, makes Katniss character seem to become more stronger and more determined to win the game.

New equilibrium

In the end, Katniss and her companion Peeta win the game together. Katniss then returns back home to her family and friends.

This is the scene where Katniss and Peeta win the Hunger Games.

PART B: Levi Strauss

Levi-Strauss example

This is an example of what Levi-Strauss meant by the oppositions in film:

He believed that our world is described in BINARY OPPOSITES.

When we look at themes within stories they consists of differences, contradictions and conflict or opposites.



Young old

Good Bad



Genre: Drama

Film:Opposite 1Opposite 2Explanation

PS: I Love YouHusband who has died.Wife is alive, healthy.The husband had a brain tumour. He dies. The wife discovers many letters that the husband wrote to her before his death.

Genre: Action

Film:Opposite 1 Opposite 2 Explanation

SpidermanSpiderman is seen as a hero. He saves the victim.Costumes presents the character as a binary opposite to Spiderman. The costumes mask shows that the green goblin is rebellious and evil. It is conventional to see binary opposites in Action films because there is always a hero and a villain.

Sometimes it can be between the hero and his sidekick.

Genre: Horror

Film:Opposite 1Opposite 2 Explanation

The Ring The girl (creature) climbing out of the TV is the villain. The woman and the child are both victims.It is conventional to see binary opposites in Horror films because there is always a victim(s) and a villain.

PART C: Barthes

Barthes theory

Barthes theory is similar to Todorovs theory. The audiences experience of the narrative involves anticipation and expectation of a resolution to disruption/conflict

Barthes theory continued

Barthes theory of codes encourage the audience to seek answers and clues to make them anticipate the outcomes.

These codes are identified as the: - Enigma code- Action code- Semantic code- Symbolic code - Cultural code

Barthes Enigma code

Key word: EnigmaEnigma means a question that is not immediately answered and thus draws an audience into a text.

An example of an enigma code would be from the film:

SAW 3Who is behind this? Who is responsible?

Why is there chains attached to this characters body?

Barthes Action code

Codes of behaviour and actions that lead audiences to expect certain consequences.Romance Thriller/MysteryAction

Action: They are on the edge of the boat imagining they are flying above the water.Action: Killer/ villain tries to find victim.Girl is shown hiding from the killer.Action:Hero (spiderman) and villain(green goblin)battle.

Assumption:They gaze into each others eyes and kiss passionately. Then fall in love.

Assumption: Villain will find the victim.Villain will kill the victim.

Assumption:One character always dies.The villain is always destroyed by the hero.

Barthes Semantic code

Connotative meanings of characters, objects, locations.Example: COLOUR

Romance film (Pretty Woman) Red dress

The colour red represents sexuality, passion and love.

Blue lighting

The colour blue in this scene connotes that it is sterile.Horror/Mystery/Thriller film (The Ring)

Barthes Symbolic code

Symbolic features often signify oppositions and antithesis.

An example of the symbolic code would be the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Female victims connote vulnerability.


Barthes Cultural code

Outside of text and knowledge we commonly share to bring understanding of the meaning in the text.It is often referred to things in popular culture or historical events.

Example of a film that uses the cultural code is Romeo & Juliet.

In the film Romeo & Juliet there are a wide range of modern interpretations we knows as modern.

Examples: the petrol stations, multicultural environment, locations, drugs, guns etc.

Part D: Propp

Propps theory

Propp studied folklore, fairy tales and legends in many countries.

Propp noticed many similarities in them such as:Similar character types and same problems.

Propp formed 2 theories.1st 7 distinctive character types called Spheres of Action.2nd 31 functions

REMEMBER:These stories are often childrens tales which need to be simplistic.

Propp 7 Spheres of Action







False hero

These are the following 7 distinctive character types:

Propp Hero

The hero is on a quest.

A hero is traditionally a male (not always) because they are the more dominant gender role.

The heroes role is to repair the disequilibrium by defeating the villain(s).

In the film The Hunger Games Katniss Everdeen is represented as the hero

Propp - Villain

The villain(s) opposes the hero.

The villain(s) is the cause of disruption/conflict.

The villain(s) is commonly known as a threat to the heroines safety.

These characters are portrayed as the villains.

They look more stronger and dominant.

They look at the fellow competitors as if they were a meal(weaklings).

I believe this character is the main villain.

This character invented the game.

This character allows the people to die and doesnt show any sympathy.

Propp - Dispatcher

The dispatcher starts the hero on its way to restore the disequlibrium.

Usually the dispatcher is the father of the hero or the heroine. The dispatcher sends the hero off to show and prove their worth.In the film The Hunger Games Cinna is Katniss impressionist designer.

Cinna is represented as paternalistic (father figure).

Cinna sends Katniss on her way to prove her strength and her might throughout the games.

Propp Donor

The donor helps the hero by giving them some sort of gift to help them on their journey.

This gift can be either advice, a skill or an object (like a weapon).

In this scene, Haymitch is giving Katniss advice before she enters the game.

Haymitch tells Katniss what she must do and what she must not do when the game begins.

Propp - Helper

The helper assists the hero in repairing the normality/ equilibrium.

The helper is somewhat a sidekick to the hero.

The helper is either with the hero all the time or someone the hero meets along the way. An example of a helper is the little girl Rue in the film The Hunger Games.

In this scene, Katniss is stuck in a tree.

The villains from the other districts are down below waiting for Kanitss to come down so they can kill her.

Rue is in the tree next to Katniss and points Katniss to the bee nest and tells her to chop the branch down so the nest will fall on the ones below.

Propp - Heroine

The heroine is commonly known as the reference to princess.

The heroine is usually a female in the traditional narratives (but not always).

The heroine is usually the vulnerable character who is under threat by the villain and seeks the rescuing from the hero.

The heroine is known for being in love with the hero and ends up with the hero.

Propp False hero

The false