Narrative Analysis

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Narrative Analysis

Narratology

This term is used since 1969 to denote the branch of literary devoted to narratives analysis, and more specifically to study forms of narration and varieties of narrator. That is, defines what is the basic mechanism and procedures common to all acts of story telling and explain how narratives make meaning. As a modern theory, narratology is mainly associated with European structuralism, though studies of narrative forms go as far back as Aristotle's Poetics. In his Poetics, Aristotle already identified characters and actions as the essential elements in a story. The study of the narrative is a field that seems particularly appropriate for structuralist or semiotic approaches. Narratives can be determined in a range of media like film, cartoon, comic and novel and most of them (myths, popular tales, legends, epics, etc.) usually share basic structural components such as sequence, resolution, rhythm, patterns and reflections.

Vladimir Propp (1895-1970)

Vladimir Propp was a Russian formalist critic who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folktale to identify their fundamental narrative elements.Modern narrative analysis may be dated from Propp's work Morphology of the Folktale published in 1928. He used concepts from Morphology (study of forms), especially those applied in Botany, in which the object of study (plants) should be divided in order to analyze the relationship among the parts and their relations to the entire object. Based on that Propp argued that it is possible analyze tales in the same logic, dividing it in parts and analyzing their relationship to each other and to the whole. In this work he affirmed that all tales are constructed by selecting item from a basic repertoire that he called functions. Even though Propp admits that can exist exception in the tale???s universe, his functions and especially his characters types can be applied successfully in almost any story, covering any genre such as literature, film, television, and game. In Morphology of the Folktale Propp analyzed a corpus of 115 Russian folktales breaking them into sections, defining criteria and character types in order to examine their narratives. He created a structural model based on the following criteria:


. All fairy tales are constructed on the basis of one single string of actions or events called ???function???;

. Function is a significant action or event;

. Function is more important than theme or plot as unit of analysis;

. Functions are independent of how and by whom they are fulfilled;

. The number of functions available to fairytale-tellers is thirty-one, with (codifiable) exceptions;

. Tales are organized in sequences: each sequence is composed of a selection of functions in the appropriate temporal order and constitutes a narrative episode;

. Characters available to fairytale-tellers usually are: hero, false hero, villain, donor, helper, dispatcher, princess and/or her father;

. Not every function appears in every tale;

. All fairytales share the same fundamental structure.


Propp???s functions (Spheres of action)

INITIAL SITUATION


1. Absentation - One of the members of a family absents himself/herself from home

2. Interdiction - An interdiction [prohibition] is addressed to the hero

3. Violation - The interdiction is violated

4. Reconnaissance - The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance

5. Delivery - The villain receives information about the victim

6. Trickery - The villain attempts to deceive the victim in order to take possession of the victim or their belongings

7. Complicity - The victim submits to deception and thereby unwittingly helps his enemy

8. Villainy or Lack - The villain causes harm or injury to a member of the family ??? A member of a family lacks something or desires to have something

9. Mediation ??? Misfortune or lack is made known; the hero is approached with a request or command; he is allowed to go or he is dispatched

10. Beginning counteraction ??? The hero agrees to or decides upon counteraction

11. Departure ??? The hero leaves home

12. First function of the donor ??? the hero is tested, interrogated, attacked, etc., which prepares the way for his receiving either a magical agent or a helper

13. The hero???s reaction ??? The hero reacts to the actions of the future donor

14. Provision of a magical agent ??? The hero acquires the use of a magical agent

15. Guidance ??? Hero is led to the whereabouts of an object of search

16. Struggle ??? The hero and the villain join in direct combat

17. Branding ??? The hero is branded

18. Victory ??? The villain is defeated

19. Liquidation of lack ??? The initial misfortune or lack is liquidated

20. Return ??? The hero returns

21. Pursuit ??? The hero is pursued

22. Rescue ??? Rescue of the hero from pursuit

23. Unrecognized Arrival ??? Unrecognized, he arrives home or in another country

24. Unfounded Claims ??? A false hero presents unfounded claims

25. Difficult task ??? A difficult task is proposed to the hero

26. Solution ??? The task is resolved

27. Recognition ??? The hero is recognized

28. Exposure ??? The false hero or villain is exposed

29. Transfiguration ??? The hero is given a new appearance

30. Punishment ??? The villain is punished

31. Wedding ??? The hero is married and ascends the throne


Examples

Example 1 - Tale

*The Swan-Geese - Morphology of the Folktale (p.96-98)

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There lived an old man and an old woman; they had a daughter and alittle son.???Daughter, daughter,??? said the mother, ???we aregoing out to work and we will bring you back a little bun, sew youa little dress and buy you a little kerchief. Be wise, take care ofyour little brother, and do not leave the courtyard.???The elderswent away, and the daughter forgot what they had ordered her to do.She placed her little brother on the grass under a window and ranout into the street and became absorbed in playing and havingfun.234

56The swan-geese flew down, seized the little boy and carried himaway on their wings. The little girl came back, looked, nut herbrother wasn???t there. She gasped and rushed hither and thither,but he wasn???t anywhere. She called out; she burst into tears,wailing that harm would come to her from her father and her mother,but her little brother did not answer. She ran out into the openfield; the swan-geese sped away into the distance and disappearedbeyond the dark wood. The swan-geese had long before acquired anill fame, caused much mischief, and had stolen many a little child.The girl guessed that they had carrier off her little brother, andshe set out to catch up with them. She ran and ran until she cameupon a stove. ???Stove, stove, tell me: where have the geeseflown????7

*

*8*9*10"If you eat my little ryecake, I???ll tell.??? ???Oh, wedon???t even eat cakes made of wheat in my father???s house.??? (Ameeting with an apple tree and a river follows. Similar proposaland similar insolent replies.) She would have run through thefields and wandered in the forest a long time if she had not bygood fortune met a hedgehog. She wished to nudge him, but wasafraid of pricking herself. ???Little hedgehog, little hedgehog,???she asked ???did you not see where the geese have flown???????Away, over there,??? he pointed.

She ran and came upon a hut on chicken legs. It was standing and turning around.11

In the hut sat B??ba Jag??, hag-faced and with a leg of clay.The little brother also sat there on a little bench, playing withgolden apples. His sister saw him, stole up, seized him and carriedhim away, and the geese flew after her in pursuit; the evildoerswere overtaking them; where was there to hide?12*13*

(The river, the apple tree, and the stove hide the little girl.The tale ends with the little girl???s arrival home.)14*


. Functions:


1 ??? Initial Situation

  • There lived an old man and an old woman; they had a daughter and a little son. There lived an old man and an old woman; they had a daughter and a little son.

2 - Interdiction

  • Be wise, take care of your little brother, and do not leave the courtyard.

3 ??? Departure of the elders

  • The elders went away The elders went away.

4 ??? Violation of the interdiction

  • , and the daughter forgot what they had ordered her to do. She placed her little brother on the grass under a window and ran out into the street and became absorbed in playing and having fun. She placed her little brother on the grass under a window and ran out into the street and became absorbed in playing and having fun.

5 - Villainy

  • The swan-geese flew down, seized the little boy and carried him away on their wings.

6 ??? Preliminary misfortune

  • The little girl came back, looked, nut her brother wasn???t there. The little girl came back, looked, nut her brother wasn???t there.

7 ??? Appearance of the tester (donor)

  • She ran and ran until she came upon a stove.

8??? Dialogue with the tester

  • If you eat my little ryecake, I???ll tell.

9 ??? Negative reaction of the hero

  • Oh, we don???t even eat cakes made of wheat in my father???s house.

10 ??? Appearance of the thankful helper

  • she had not by good fortune met a hedgehog.

11 ??? Dwelling of the villain

  • She ran and came upon a hut on chicken legs. It was standing and turning around.

12 ??? Return is implied but not mentioned

  • The swan-geese flew down, seized the little boy and carried him away on their wings. His sister saw him, stole up, seized him and carried him away.

13 ??? The hero is pursued

  • the geese flew after her in pursuit.

14 ??? Rescue of the hero from pursuit/the task isresolved.';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '14 ??? Rescue of the hero from pursuit/the task isresolved.';this.style.color = '#000000';">14 ??? Rescue of the hero from pursuit/the task isresolved.

  • The tale ends with the little girl???s arrival home.


*

Example 2 - Movie


Harry Potter and the Philosopher???s Stone (Simpson, P.)


*1. Hero absents himself';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '1. Hero absents himself';this.style.color = '#000000';">1. Hero absents himself

  • Harry Potter [Hero] has been orphaned and is forced to live in the home of his cruel aunt and uncle, the Dursleys.

2. Hero receives interdiction';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '2. Hero receives interdiction';this.style.color = '#000000';">2. Hero receives interdiction

  • Harry is told by the Dursleys not to go to Hogwart???s schoolof wizardry

3. Interdiction is violated';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '3. Interdiction is violated';this.style.color = '#000000';">3. Interdiction is violated

  • Harry goes to Hogwart???s school of wizardry

6. Villain attempts to deceive or to take possession';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '6. Villain attempts to deceive or to take possession';this.style.color = '#000000';">6. Villain attempts to deceive or to take possession

  • Unknown to all, Voldemort [Villain] has taken over the body of Professor Quirrel.

8. Villain harms member of Hero???s family';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '8. Villain harms member of Hero???s family';this.style.color = '#000000';">8. Villain harms member of Hero???s family

  • Harry learns that Voldemort has killed his parents.

9. This harm made known: Hero goes/ is sent on amission';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '9. This harm made known: Hero goes/ is sent on amission';this.style.color = '#000000';">9. This harm made known: Hero goes/ is sent on amission

  • Harry embarks on a mission to recover the philosopher???s stone.

12. Hero gets helper and/or magical agent';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '12. Hero gets helper and/or magical agent';this.style.color = '#000000';">12. Hero gets helper and/or magical agent

  • Harry receives (unexpectedly) a top-of-the-range broomstick, a Nimbus 2000.

25. Difficult task set for Hero';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '25. Difficult task set for Hero';this.style.color = '#000000';">25. Difficult task set for Hero

  • Harry is charged with retrieving the ???golden snitch??? in agame of Quidditch.

14. Hero uses magical agent.';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '14. Hero uses magical agent.';this.style.color = '#000000';">14. Hero uses magical agent.

  • Harry uses the Nimbus 2000 in the Quidditch game.

26. Task is accomplished.';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '26. Task is accomplished.';this.style.color = '#000000';">26. Task is accomplished.

  • Harry successfully retrieves the golden snitch.

16. Hero and Villain join in combat';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '16. Hero and Villain join in combat';this.style.color = '#000000';">16. Hero and Villain join in combat

  • Harry and Voldemort join combat.

17. Hero is branded';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '17. Hero is branded';this.style.color = '#000000';">17. Hero is branded

  • Harry has acquired a lightning-shaped scar through an earlierencounter with Voldemort.

28. False Hero is exposed';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '28. False Hero is exposed';this.style.color = '#000000';">28. False Hero is exposed

  • Quirrel exposed as the host of Voldemort.

29. False Hero is transformed';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '29. False Hero is transformed';this.style.color = '#000000';">29. False Hero is transformed

  • Quirrel transformed into dust during the combat.

18. Villain is defeated';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '18. Villain is defeated';this.style.color = '#000000';">18. Villain is defeated

  • Voldemort is defeated.

30. Villain is punished';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '30. Villain is punished';this.style.color = '#000000';">30. Villain is punished

  • Voldemort forced to leave the body of his dead host.

19. Initial misfortune is set right.';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '19. Initial misfortune is set right.';this.style.color = '#000000';">19. Initial misfortune is set right.

  • In the Hogwart???s school competition, Harry???s houseGryffindor is reinstated above their cheating rivalsSlytherin.

20. Hero returns home.';this.style.color = '#ff0000';" onMouseOut = "this.innerHTML = '20. Hero returns home.';this.style.color = '#000000';">20. Hero returns home.

  • Harry leaves Hogwart???s for the summer recess.


Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

17 Stages of Campbell The Hero's Journey.
17 Stages of Campbell The Hero's Journey.


Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist and writer. He is known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion, in which he analyzed mythological heroes in order to prove that all hero myths are the same, also, all of them follow a psychological and a metaphysical approach. By comparison Campbell established a hero pattern describing 17 common stages of the hero's journey found in a sort of classic narrative. These stages are grouped in 3 main clusters called Departure, Initiation, and Return.


Joseph Campbell first describes the heroic monomyth in 1949 in hisbook The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The notion of CampbellHero???s Journey can be applied to analyze any stories and movies.Take for example popular movies such as the Matrix, Star Wars, andthe Lord of the Rings.



References and Further Readings

Aguirre, M. (2011, October). An outline of Propp???s model for the study of fairtales. Retrieved from http://www.northangerlibrary.com/documentos/AN%20OUTLINE%20OF%20PROPP???S%20MODEL%20FOR%20THE%20STUDY%20OF%20FAIRYTALES.pdf

Oxford Dictionary retrieved from http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100223478

Propp, V. (1984). Morphology of the folktale. Austin, University of Texas Press.

Segal, A. R. (1987). Joseph Campbell: An introduction. New York and London, Garland Publishing.

Simpson, P. (n.d.). Stylistics: A resource book for students. Retrieved from http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/0415281059/about/pdf/stylistics_b5.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell

http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Propp

http://caminocasebook.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/joseph-campbells-stages-of-the-monomyth-the-heros-journey/ image retrieved from http://www.royalsocietyofaccountplanning.blogspot.com

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