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Narrative theory

From Latin “Narrato” meaning “I tell”. The way the story is told.

Tvetan Todorov says that each and every narrative has equilibrium, disequilibrium, the goal, restore equilibrium (different then before, better even).

Examples of this include the majority of Disney films.


Vladimir Propp says there are always the same character functions:

The Villain (antagonist) who struggles against the hero;

The Donor, gives something important;

The helper, a companion;

The Princess, a sought-after person (and/or her father) who exists as a goal and often recognises and marries hero and/or punishes the villain;

The dispatcher, the one who sends the hero on the journey;

The hero, who departs on a search (seeker-hero), reacts  to donor and weds princess;

The false hero (or usurper), who claims to be the hero, often seeking and reacting like a real hero (by trying to marry the princess , for example).

The Seven basic Stories:

Overcoming the monster; protagonist versus antagonistic force, who  threatens either them  or their homeland. An example of this is The Hunger games.

Rags to riches; protagonist attains amazing wealth, and finds love, but loses it and once they get it back, they have grown  as a person. An  example of this is Aladdin.

The Quest; protagonist and some companions set off on  a journey to get  an  object of integral value or to  a location, facing many troubles on the way. An  example of this is The Lord of the Rings.

Voyage and Return; protagonist goes to an  unknown location, faces and defeats it’s many threats and returns with  experience.

Comedy; a light-hearted story, in  which  the conflict grows more and more convoluted, not merely based on humour , but is also facing these circumstances and overcoming them, a happy ending where all is resolved.. An example of this is Mr Bean.

Tragedy; protagonist has one main character flaw, which is his undoing overall. Provokes pity for their good character. An example of this is Romeo and Juliet.

Rebirth; powerful events causes protagonist to change their ways, making them  a better person. An example of this is Beauty and the Beast.



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