New Narratives – Research – 2nd Feb 15

I liked researching these because it refreshed my memory of things I learnt back in Media Studies but forgot the names of. 

Todorov’s Theory 

Todorov came up with the theory in 1969 that would apply to most films. 

The theory is that are five stages to the story 

1. A state of equilibrium (All is as it should be.)

2. A disruption of that order by an event

3. A recognition that the disorder has occurred

4. An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption.

5. A return or restoration of a New equilibrium

However, this theory does not apply to all films as stated on the blog this is from the writer gave the example of Fight Club not matching this theory while Die Hard does.

Source: [Accessed Feb 2015]

Propp’s Theory on Narrative and Characters

Valdmir Propp analysed old Russian folk tales in the 1920s and discovered that they each had the same kind of narrative. He came up with 31 functions that they followed.

  1. A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced as a unique person within the tribe, whose needs may not be met by remaining)
  2. An interdiction (a command NOT to do something e.g.‘don’t go there’, ‘go to this place’), is addressed to the hero;
  3. The hero ignores the interdiction
  4. The villain appears and (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim encounters the villain);
  5. The villain gains information about the victim;
  6. The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim’s belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim);
  7. The victim is fooled by the villain, unwittingly helps the enemy;
  8. Villain causes harm/injury to family/tribe member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, commits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);
  9. Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimised hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment);
  10. Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action;
  11. Hero leaves home;
  12. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor);
  13. Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary’s powers against them);
  14. Hero acquires use of a magical agent (it’s directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, is eaten/drunk, or offered by other characters);
  15. Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search;
  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, killed while asleep, banished);
  19. Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (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 or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life);
  23. Hero unrecognised, arrives home or in another country;
  24. False hero presents unfounded claims;
  25. Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks);
  26. Task is resolved;
  27. Hero is recognised (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her);
  28. False hero or villain is exposed;
  29. Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc);
  30. Villain is punished;
  31. Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).

Propp also said that there are always a certain kind of characters that crop up within stories. There is a Hero, Villain, Helper, Princess/Heroine, Father, Donor and Mentor. (They don’t always have to literally be what they are for example the Princess/Heroine could be a prize in the end for the Hero). 

This theory was then taken by Joseph Campbell and turned into The Hero’s Journey. It is similar to Propp’s idea of characters where there are certain people who each have a role within the story.


Source: – The Hero’s Journey (Uploader: Glove and Boots 2013) [Accessed Feb 2015]

Binary Opposition in Narrative

Claude Levi-Strauss came up with the idea that narratives are driven forward by opposing forces such light/dark and good/evil etc. 

Source: [Accessed Feb 2015] 

Enigma Codes

Enigma is used to get the audience guessing what’s going to happen next, to add excitement for the Audience. 

Source: [Accessed Feb 2015] Narrative Analysis in Media Studies

Sorcha posted some useful videos into the group; –  Harry Potter: Hero’s Journey (Uploader: Ruby Robles 2013) [Accessed Feb 2015] – The Hero’s Journey in 5 Disney Movies (Uploader: Laurent Caneiro 2014) [Accessed Feb 2015]

Other things I looked at.


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