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Narrative Theories

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  Alex Walker Narrative Theories Vladimir Propp: Vladimir was a Russian soviet scholar. He analyzed the plot of hundreds of Russian folk tales. He summarised that there were eight possible categories that made up these stories; these categories are still the bases for many stories and films today. 1.   The first category is the ‘Hero’; this character is usually looking for something –  either on a quest or solving a mystery. In my book the hero is Bernard, although Simon Cowell could also be the hero as he was looking for a way to gain his talent spotting abilities back and found that in Bernard. 2.   The second category is the ‘Villain’; they usually go against the hero either to gain the same thing they are going for or to stop them from succeeding. They usually have a lack of morals and contras the hero; this is so the hero’s good qualities stand out against the bad qualities of the villain. In my story I don’t  really have a villain, although you could argue that the other unicorns that bully Bernard are kind of a villain to him but they are not part of the main story line. An example of a villain would be Randal from Monsters Inc. he did everything possible to stop Mike and Sully because he was jealous of them and was completely different to them and you could see this right from the start when Randal was introduced. 3.   The third category is the ‘Princess/Prize’; this character or object is the thing that the hero either sets out to get or get something for or gains at the end of the story for their hard work. For example, in my book, Bernard gains his horn from granting Simon’ s wish. However, in a classic fairytale, it is usually a princess or a sword or something along those lines as that’s what most old fairytales are about.  4.   The fourth category is the ‘Donor’; this character gives the hero something special to help them on their task. If Simon were the main character in this situation, then Bernard would become the donor as he give him his abilities back. In Monsters Inc. it would be Boo giving them her laughter, she did this indirectly however it still helped them with their choices throughout the rest of the story. 5.   The fifth category is the ‘helper’; this character provides help and support either throughout the story or at critical moments. My story doesn’t have a  helper really. In Monsters Inc. the helper and the hero are the same two characters as Mike and Sully are the hero’s but they also help each other throughout the story.  6.   The sixth category is the ‘Princess’ Father’; this character is definitely more for the older fairytales as nowadays; fathers don’t own their daughters. This character gives the hero a task and the rewar d is usually the Princess’ hand –  even if the Princess didn’t agree. There isn’t an example of this happening in my story so an example o f this happening is in the film Shrek, the King sends Shrek on a mission to prove that he was capable of having Fiona as his wife.  Alex Walker 7.   The seventh category of the ‘False Hero’; this character makes everyone think that they are good and want to help but are actually faking being nice for their own personal gain. There are so many examples of this happening in Disney films, for example; Frozen  –  The prince pretends to love Anna but actually wants the kingdom, The Lion King  –  Scar pretends to care for Simba but actually wants the kingdom and in Monsters Inc.  –   Mr Waternoose pretends not to know that children aren’t bad but is actually the one behind it all. 8.   The final category is the ‘Dispatcher’; this character is essentially the same as the princess’ father be cause they send the hero on their mission. An example of this would be Lord Farquaad from Shrek as he set Shrek to retrieve Fiona from the tower so that he could marry her. Todorov: Todorov came up with the equilibrium; this is where there are five stages to a story. This is a very basic way of describing the plots of most stories. 1.   Everything’s fine.  2.   There’s a disruption to everyday life.  3.   There is recognition of the disruption. 4.   There is an attempt to repair the disruption. 5.   Now return to the new everyday life. A more complicated way of describing the plots is by using the equilibrium etc. 1.   Equilibrium  –  this is basically the beginning of the story where everything is fine, and there is a balance of normal life. An example of this from my story is the first page. 2.   Disequilibrium  –  this is where the story properly starts. There is usually a disruption of a characters life or a long-term problem that causes their normal life to change. The rest of the story revolves around the character trying to return to the equilibrium or trying to solve the problem.  Alex Walker 3.   New Equilibrium  –  this is the end of the story, when things turn into the new normal and it gives you an idea of how their lives will be from no on. Strauss: Claude Levi Strauss was a French theorist. He said that there was only a story when two opposing sides come together. This is called ‘binary oppositions’. My story doesn’t really have any binary opposition because everyone wants to help each other so there aren’t any opposites.    Good vs Evil- Bernard and the other unicorns. The other unicorns try to bring Bernard down and make him feel bad.    Men vs Women- An example of this is in the film Made in Dagenham    Humans vs Nature- Avatar is an example of this due to the humans trying to destroy the forest and other parts of nature that the ‘Aliens’ need to survive.      Humans vs Aliens- Cowboys vs Aliens the film, this is humans against aliens. He also said that there were different types of structure, which made up these stories.    Open  –  There is no conclusion to the story, it is continuous. Most soap operas have this. Closed    –  This is where the story reaches an end, most films have this.    Single Strand    –   There is only on storyline. This is usually used in children’s books as it is simple and easy to understand. Multi-strand    –  There are many different storylines. This is generally used in soap operas but can be used in some films.    Liner    –  This is when everything in the story goes in chronological order. Generally used in children’s book s as its easier to understand. Non Linear  –   This is where the story isn’t chronological, usually shown in flash backs or flash forwards, Pulp Fiction or Inception are good examples of this.    Realist    –  This is when the story is based on real life and is believable. Anti-Realist  –  This is the complete opposite, usually sifi stories, like the Matrix.  Alex Walker
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