Film Narrative Part 2 (2016)Apunte Inglés
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GREIMAS’ NARRATIVE GRAMMAR
I. Introduction to Greimas
Greimas was a member of Paris School of semiotics,
whose study seeked to account for the articulation
and the narrativization of the semantic universe as a
totality meaning. Similar to the distinction between
language and parole in Saussurian linguistics, in
Greimas' semiotics there is the distinction between the
deep (semantic) structure and surface syntax. We can
therefore compare Greimas to what we studied last
week: Propp's structuralism.
II. The actantial model The actantial model serves to break an action down into six facets or actants: (1) The subject (for example, the Prince) is what wants or does not want to be joined to (2) an object (the rescued Princess, for example). (3) The sender (for example, the King) is what instigates the action, while the (4) receiver (for example, the King, the Princess, the Prince) is what benefits from it.
Lastly, (5) a helper (for example, the magic sword, the horse, the Prince's courage) helps to accomplish the action, while (6) an opponent (the witch, the dragon, the Prince's fatigue or a suspicion of terror) hinders it.
2.1. The six actants and the three axes The six actants are divided into three oppositions, each of which forms an axis of the description: -The axis of desire: (1) subject / (2) object. The subject is what is directed toward an object. The relationship established between the subject and the object is called a junction, and can be further classified as a conjunction (for example, the Prince wants the Princess) or a disjunction (for example, a murderer succeeds in getting rid of his victim's body).
-The axis of power: (3) helper / (4) opponent. The helper assist in achieving the desired junction between the subject and object; the opponent hinders the same (for example, the sword, the horse, courage, and the wise man help the Prince; the witch, the dragon, the far-off castle, and fear hinder him).
-The axis of transmission (the axis of knowledge, according to Greimas): (5) sender / (6) receiver. The sender is the element requesting the establishment of the junction between subject and object (for example, the King asks the Prince to rescue the Princess). The receiver is the element for which the quest is being undertaken. To simplify, let us interpret the receiver (or positive receiver) as that which benefits from achieving the junction between subject and object for example, the King the kingdom, the Princess, the Más en www.unybook.com gperez1783 Prince, etc). Sender elements are often receiver element as well. Ex. The Wizard of Oz, she is confused, she lacks of knowledge (she doesn't know that she has killed a witch).
Desired is interrupted by power, and thanks to knowledge, at the end of the story, the desire overcome.
2.2. The actantial sub-classes -Actant / Non-actant, Factual / Possible actants: the actant/non-actant distinction is related to the issue of factual versus possible actants and active versus passive actants. A friend who could have (and maybe should have) helped but did not may be classified not as an opponent, bus as a non-helper (a type of no nactant) or as a possible helper (a type of possible actant) who did not become a factual helper (a type of factual actant) as he should have. This theory has been particularly interesting for feminist approaches to narratives. (the women become more active in the stories - in noir films, the femme fatale).
-Active/Passive actants: we shall now consider the distinction between active and passive actatns. It is one thing not to help a person who is drowning (the non-action is what causes harm); it is quite another to hold his head under water (the action is what causes harm). In the first case, we may call this character (1) a non-helper (a type o non-actant), or (2) a possible but unactualized helper (a type of possible actant that will not become factual), or yet again (3) a passive opponent (a type of passive actant). In the second case, he may be (1) a possible cut unactualized helper (a type of possible actant that will not become factual) or (2) an active opponent (a type of active actant), which is undoubtedly a more adequate description. A being needs not be anthropomorphic in order to be classified as passive/active: an alarm that does not go off when it should, thus allowing a robbery to occur, is a passive helper.