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The Plot Level 3.1 The Narrative Point of View 3.2 Modes of Speech Presentation 3.3 Distribution of Time 4. Conclusion 5. Bibliography • • • Jahn, Manfred. 2005. Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. English Department, University of Cologne Genette, Gérard. 1980 Narrative Discourse. Oxford: Blackwell. Bal, Mieke. 1978. Narrative Theory: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.
Fuente de Internet: http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm#N3.3
for the aim and scope of this presentation. The progression from a single event to a sequence of events. the roots of narratology go back to Plato’s and Aristotele’s distinction between “mimesis” (imitation) and “diegesis” (narration). to an episode and then to a story highlights the structuralist orientation of the narratological approach. Ultimately. More specifically. We will deal with the components of the story level and the parameters which are essential for the plot connectivity. cartoons and computer games. 2. However. riddles or fairy tales to operas. many linguists have offered their own analysis of narratology. THE STORY LEVEL The label narrative is used to refer to all those literary genres in which the author/encoder deals with factual and/or conceptual phenomena in time. According to structuralism. Bal and the French Genette were the first to try a definition from a structural viewpoint. Here we will concentrate in the structuralist sequence of events (Tomachevski). jokes. for the discourse. including literary and nonliterary. Narratologies are concerned with all types of narratives. it has been thought appropriate to consider the narrative text from a structural point of view. and the distinction between “Story” and “Plot”. Along the course of History. the Russian formalists Tomachevski.1. Characters and Setting. the imaginary world and real world and real stories. The story is the actual sequence of events as they would have occurred while the latter is the artistic presentation of these events. However. ballets. INTRODUCTION As a way of introduction. a story is a sequence of events or actions (which are here treated as synonyms). Propp. narratology involves from poems. fictional and non-fictional and verbal and non-verbal. Let’s proceed to analyse them and give their main characteristics. that is. the overarching difference is clearly that between fictional and non-fictional. There are different ways of analyzing the characteristics of narratives. conform the whole story. at the same time. It is traditionally considered that the basic elements of narrative texts on the story level are Action. .Events are grouped into episodes which.
since contemporary novel (Joyce and Faulkner) the story loses importance and the disposition of the elements which make it possible to tell the story become essential. b) Spatial order. in which the story is fragmented into different blocks which are distributed alternately.g.2. Our mind usually associates causality and temporality. Other types of structures of organizing events have been created: Alternate structure. ‘Story’ is the chronological sequence of events.g. Every action unit is the causal consequence of something that happened before. The basic question concerning plot structure is “Why does this happen?” There are different ways of distributing plot connectivity. in which the theme is repeated introducing variants (e. following a chronological order. . The arrangement or syntax of narrative texts responds to the classical order of the units of action. Manhattan Transfer). Musical structure. These visions can be complementary or contradictory (e. a) The Temporal-logical order is the most common manner of organizing events. the sum of events constituting a ‘story line’. These ideas were encouraged by the fact that television and cinema seemed to be replacing novels in their traditional function. This distribution of events has traditionally belonged to poetry.g. Alexandria Quartet) Perspective structure. The sound and the fury). An ‘action unit’ or narreme is a distinct point (or segment) on the story line.1 Action The term ‘Action’ refers to a sequence of acts and events. whose main stages are: o Exposition: offers the information needed to understand the story. o Complication: it is the catalyst that begins the major conflict. o Climax: it is the turning point in the story that occurs when the characters try to resolve the complication o Resolution: the set of events that bring the story to a close. not in succession (e. The main question concerning story structure is “What happens next?” It is important to nota that narrative discourse does not necessarily have to present the story in a purely chronological fashion. there are two different major structures in narrative texts: temporal-logical order and spatial order. The units of action are related in a progressive way. Plot is the logical and causal structure of the story. However. which presents the same story through the filter of various consciences. According to Tomachevski.
Formally. In traditional plot oriented texts. death or other morally or aesthetically satisfactory outcome producing a state of equilibrium. A story beginning “ab ovo” typically begins with the birth of the protagonist and a state of equilibrium or non conflict. while in implicit characterization. Many modern texts. the character is defined through his style of speech. For a beginning in “media res”. however. 3.In narrative texts. There are various ways of starting or ending a story: a) Point of attack is the event chosen to begin the primary action line. 2. Explicit Vs implicit. behaviour or attitudes and is defined as the story unfolds. According to Pfister’s tree diagram. Narratorial Vs Figural. For a beginning “in ultima res” the point of attack occurs after the climax and near the end. Depending on whether the characterizing subject is the narrator or another character of the story. Self-characterization (auto-characterization) Vs altero-characterization. ambiguously or even present alternative endings. In explicit characterization. conclude enigmatically. 2. lack closure. verbal statements define the character with certain properties and traits. The may be open-ended. characterization analysis focuses on three basic parameters: 1. Depending on whether the characterizing subject characterizes himself/herself or somebody else. the main conflict is usually resolved by means of marriages. The opening passage of a text is also called incipit. The basic analytical question is WHO (subject) defines WHOM (object) as being WHAT (as having which properties). Pfister’s tree diagram . simply stop. narratives conclude with an epilogue or scene.2 Characters Characterization analysis investigates the ways and means of creating the personality of fictional characters. Modern short stories typically begin in media res. b) Endings (closures) are the type of conclusions that end a text. the point of attack is set near the climax of the action. beginnings and endings become essential.
Rounded characters. when the character carries a meaning determined by the whole of the literary work. • Marginal characters. the modes of speech and the presentation and distribution of time. the space where the characters move and live in. they can be: • Central characters. are three dimensional figures characterized by many and often conflicting properties. They are one dimensional figures with a very restricted range of speech and action. semantic units. closely related to the main characters.From a structural point of view. but not playing an important role on the story • Extras. a) The physical setting as an important part of the story was discovered in Romanticism (thelandscape). This kind of setting has been essential in the psychological novel of the XXth century. 2. Literary space in this sense is more than a stable place or setting. 3. It includes from landscapes or cities to climatic conditions. Forster. when their function is determined by their relationships with other characters.M. as they directly define the setting of the story. the characters previously defined as extras become very important. according to novelist and critic E. or pragmatic units. psychological or social. characters may be “flat” or “rounded”: • • Flat characters can be simplified or reduced to a type or even a caricature. characters can be described as syntactic units. which are the nucleous of the action. when their function is determined by the relationship between the character and the author or reader. Before that it was just considered as the wrapping of the story. In this kind of setting. We can . on the other hand. c) The social setting is the space given by human relationships. They do not develop along the story. Finally. THE PLOT LEVEL There are different ways to present a story. whose function is to contribute to the creation of the setting. b) The psychological setting changes depending on the mood or the attitude of the characters and therefore loses its neutrality and objectivity. The transformation of the linguistic units into the narrative discourse can be determined by certain parameters: the narrative point of view. depending on their composition. They are not reducible to a type and often develop in the course of action. As regards the importance or prominence of the characters in the story. The literary space or setting can be physical.3 Setting The literary space or setting can be defined as the environment which situates the characters.
how it is to be told and what is to be left out. b) An Authorial narrative is told by an omniscient narrator who does not appear in the story as a character. “I as a minor character”. The narrator presents the events from a collective point of view. An authorial narrator sees the story from an outsider’s position. The protagonist is referred to in the second person. A text reads like a transcription of a recording made by a camera . The narrator presents a story which unfolds as it is narrated. In addition to these three standard narrative situations. g) Camera-eye narration. An author who desires to write a narrative text can choose between three main narrative situations: a) A First person narrative is told by a narrator who is present as a character in his/her story telling the events that he/she has experienced him/herself.create many different stories out of one single idea by different combinations of these parameters. 3.1 The Narrative Point of View Most of modern narratologists agree with Genette that the narrative analysis revolves around two basic questions: “Who speaks” (the voice of the story. “I as a witness-protagonist” and “I as an uninvolved eyewitness”. we may also mention other peripheral categories: d) We-narrative. the narrator) and “from whose point of view?” Before analysing the different narratorial situations. The narrator is the speaker or the voice of the narrative discourse. a group of collective internal focalizers. This is the purely external or behaviourist representation of events. we can identify other four minor situations: “I as a co-protagonist”. c) A Figural narrative presents the story’s events as seen through the eyes of a third person “reflector” character. Often a figural narrative text presents a distorted or restricted view of the events. often a position of absolute authority that allows him/her to know everything about the story’s world and its characters. He/She is the agent who establishes communicative contact with an addressee (the narratee). f) Simultaneous narrative. who manages the exposition and decides what is to be told. Besides the most common functional roles of “I as a protagonist” and “I as a witness”. it is essential to provide a brief definition of the Narrator. e) You-narrative/second person narrative.
E. E. Its durational aspect is isochrony. • • “Showing” is a mimetic mode of presentation with little or no presence of narratorial mediation. one can distinguish three major cases: . free indirect and indirect discourse: a) Direct discourse is characterized by presenting a character’s words or thoughts placed within quotation marks. the current point in time in story time. What on earth should she do now? c) Indirect discourse is a form of representing a character’s words or thought using indirect speech and adjusting pronouns. Durational aspect: speed-up. “Telling” is a diegetic mode of presentation in which the narrator controls the presentation of events. There are two major narrative modes: scenic presentation and summary presentation: • • Scenic presentation is a showing mode which offers a continuous stream of events. the tense used in a character’s discourse depends on the current point in time in the story’s action. “What on earth shall I do now” b) Free indirect discourse is a representation of a character’s words or verbalized thoughts which is (a) indirect in the sense that pronouns and tenses of the quoted discourse are aligned with the structure of the narrative situation. She wondered what she should do.g.3 Distribution of Time There are two main narrative tenses: the narrative present and the narrative past. As regards the style of discourse. • • discourse-NOW. usually. as an attributive clause. story-NOW. to the extent that the discourse quoted appears in the form of a non-subordinate clause. E.g. They are based on the degree of presence or overtness of the narrator in the story. 3.3. characterization and point of view arrangements. and (b) free. The reader is basically a witness to the events. a text’s use of tenses depends relates to and depends on the current point in time of the narrator’s speech act. Normally. tenses and time and place references. Summary presentation is a telling mode in which the narrator condeses a sequence of action events into a thematically focused an orderly account. Hence. a character's NOW Depending on the anteriority or posteriority relationship between Discourse-NOW and Story-NOW.g. the current point in time in discourse time: the narrator's NOW. Mary said. Naturally. which are correlated with “mimesis” and “diegesis”. we may distinguish between direct.2 Modes of Speech Presentation Modes or manners of speech presentation follow the traditional distinction between “showing” and “telling”.
c) In slow-down / deceleration. The following major types of relationship occur: a) In Isochronous presentation story time and discourse time are approximately equal. more globally. b) Achrony – a sequence of wholly temporally unordered events. in order to assess a narrative passage’s speed or tempo. more globally. on-the-scene reporting) 3. characters and setting. Speed-up typically characterizes a “summary” mode of presentation. Slow-down is a rare phenomenon. an episode’s discourse time is considerably shorter than its story time. In relation to the order or chronology of the story. e) Pause. or. which has been developed in the second and third sections. 2. by the whole action) and discourse time (the time it takes an average reader to read a passage.g. the whole text). discourse time elapses on description or comment while story time stops and no action actually takes place. This is normally the case in passages containing lots of dialogue. narrative point of view. an episode’s discourse time is considerabli longer than its story time. modes of speech presentation and distribution of time. though time continues to pass in the story. During a pause. Prospective narration produces a future tense narrative which recounts events that have not yet occurred. Retrospective narration produces a past tense narrative whose events or actions units have all happened in the past. Concurrent narration produces a present tense narrative whose action takes place at the same time as it is recounted (e. In the second section we have analyzed the story level and its three main elements: action. we have to mention: a) Anachrony – a deviation from strict chronology in a story. . The discourse halts. CONCLUSION As a conclusion we will merely point out some aspects that will summarize the foregoing information. one compares story time (the fictional time taken up by an action episode. A stretch of story time shich is not textually represented at all.1. Finally. 4. diaries. The third section has been devoted to the plot level of narratives and the analysis of the major parameters of plot connectivity. or. The two main types of anachrony are flashbacks or retrospections (the presentation of events that have occurred before the current story-NOW) and flashforwards or anticipations (the presentation of a future event before its proper time). d) Elipsis / cut / omission. We have given an introduction to the topic and we have presented the structuralist approach to the narrative texts. b) I speed-up / acceleration.
The ultimate goal of this analysis is to move from the taxonomy of elements to the understanding of how these elements are arranged in actual narratives texts. fictional and non fictional. themes and parameters establish a set of universals that determine the make up of a story.We will conclude with the idea that the structuralists seek to understand how the recurrent elements. .