Date: 26/09/16


  • Narrative or a story is a way of meaning and events can be structured and organised over time.
  • Narratives can be applied in fatal and fictional events.
  • They apply to all media forms.
  • Stories are told in differing ways across differing media
  • Pictures can have narrative meaning behind it

Key Theorists

  • Vladimir Propp
  • Tzvetan Todorov
  • Roland Barthes
  • Claude Levi-Strauss

Vladimir Propp

  • Studied many examples of russan folk tales.
  • He identified that all characters and actions can be grouped into 8 characters roles

Character roles.

  • villian

Character who is against the hero.

  • Hero

Character who is seeking something. Motivated by an initial lack of something. morally good.

  • Donor

Provides an object with some magical / key property

  • Helper

Helps the hero

  • Princess

The reward for the hero

  • Father of Princess

rewarder of the hero

  • Dispatcher

Sends the hero on an initial quest

  • False hero

Appears to be of good intention, but may aid the villain.


(Good example of this theory is “Monkey Island”)


Tzvetan Todorov

  • Suggested narratives can be based around equlibriam
  1. Equilibrium – Opposing forces are balanced
  2. Disruption
  3. Recognition of disruption
  4. Attempt to repair the disruption
  5. A new equilibrium is established


Roland Barthes: 1915 – 1980

  • Barthes suggested that narratives can have not just one, but many threads.
  • There are no beginnings or endings, but multiple points with the same narrative.
  1. Hermeneutic / Enigma

Hermeneutic / Enigma

  • Mystery elements within the narratives
  • clues may be given
  • No clear answerrs are given to the mysteries
  • can frustrate the audience when not resolved


  • Sequential actions that lead to suspense within a narrative
  • Expectations are established


  • Referencing to additional meaning within a narrative


  • New meaning arise through conflicting ideas
  • comparing two ideas to hi light which is the correct choice.


  • Elements of the narrative that are base on truths that cannot be questioned
  • assumed cultural knowledge


Crude Levi – Strauss

  • Theorised that all meanings not just those within narrative are based upon ‘ binary Opposition’.
  • e.g Good vs Evil, Sane vs Insane, uS and Them.
  • The narrative can gave different meanings based upon a particular viewpoint.