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Narrative method - Реферат

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1. Types of narrators.

2. Narration: its types and forms of presentation.

The narrative method involves such aspects as

a) who narrates the story and

b) the way the narrator stands in relation to the events and to the other characters of the story.

The author can vary the narrative method depending on what he wants his readers to concentrate on. He can tell the story from the point of view of a character in the story, or from without – as an onlooker.

The author may choose four types of narrators:

1) the main character;

2) a miner character;

3) the omniscient author;

4) the observer-author.

1. When the main character tells his story, the events of the story are presented to the reader through his perception. The author in this case places himself in the position of the main character and tells of things that only the main character saw and felt.

2. When a minor character, who participates in the actions, narrates the story, the events are described through the perception of his character. The author places himself in the position of a minor character and gives this character's version of the events and personages.

3. The author may narrate his story anonymously, analyzing and interpreting the character's motives and feelings. The reader sees what is going on in the minds of all the characters. This type of narration is told by the omniscient (or analytic) author. The omniscient author reproduces the character's thoughts and comments on their actions.

4. The story may be told in such a way that we are given the impression of witnessing the events as they happen – we see the actions and hear the conversations, but we never enter directly into the minds of any of the characters. In this case the reader is guided by the observer-author. The observer-author merely records the speech and actions of the characters without analyzing them.

2. In every story events are presented from somebody's point of view. Hence, there are two types of narration – 1st person and 3rd person narration. When told by a character in the story, the story is the first-person narrative. When told by the author, it is the third-person narrative.

If the story is a 1st-person narrative, it is told from the narrator's point of view and the reader gets a biased understanding of the events and the other characters, because he sees them through the perception of the character who narrates. At the same time any story always reveals the author's point of view even if it is implied. The character's and the author's viewpoints may or may not coincide.

When the author shifts the responsibility of telling the story to the 1st-person narrator, he actually provides his reader with two versions of one and the same story:

1) the explicitly expressed subjective version (the narrator's version) and

2) the implied objective version, which the skilled reader is expected to derive.

There are several advantages of these two methods.

1) the 1st-person narrative is a very effective means of revealing the personality of the character who narrates. The narrator tells what he thinks and feels, and the reader easily understands his motives, his nature.

2) These two narrative methods increase the credibility of the story. The narrator's statements are backed by the narrator's presence in the described events.

3) The story told by the 1st-person narrator is more confiding. The narrator often uses the informal tone, addresses the reader directly and establishes a personal relationship with him. The reader is treated by the 1st-person narrator trustfully.

However, the possibilities of the 1st-person narrator are limited because the narrator is a person, and he can see and hear only what would be possible for a person to see and hear in his situation. He cannot know what other characters do or say.

Sometimes such a narrator misinterprets the events which he cannot fully understand. He relates them and meditates on them from his subjective point of view. Thus the first person narrator necessarily assumes a participant role within the fictional context and so adopts a subjective perspective on events.

On the other hand the 3rd person narrator takes up the non-participant role of observer and so adopts an objective point of view. If the story is told by the omniscient author there are no limitations. He is all-seeing and all-knowing. He may get inside his character's minds, add his own analysis of their motives and actions.

The omniscient author may also assume a detached attitude and tell the readers all about his characters, concealing his own point of view.

The omniscient author may tell the story so vividly that his presence is forgotten, the characters and the scenes become visible.

Such are the advantages of the narrative made by the omniscient author.

In the case of the observer-author, the story is a scene or a series of scenes, narrated by an onlooker who does not interfere for any comments or reflections of these events. The focus of interest is the study of actions and events. The advantage of this narrative method is that the observer-author lets the reader see, hear, and judge the characters and their actions for himself. He stimulates the reader to form his own impression and make his own judgements.

The narrative method conditions the language of the story. Thus if the story is told by an omniscient author, the language is always literary. When the story is told by a character, the language becomes a means of characterization (as direct speech always characterizes the speaker). It reflects the narrator's education, occupation, emotional state and his attitude. The social standing of the character is marked by the use of either standard or non-standard lexical units and syntactic structures.

One has to keep in mind that the language of the 1st-person narrative requires careful attention not only because it characterizes the narrator, but also because it is a means of representing the world through the eyes of that character. It therefore reflects his outlook, his pattern of cognition, his psychology. That is why most stories related by the main character are deeply psychological.

There are the following forms of presentation and literary techniques of the narrative:

1) narrative proper, the presentation of events in their development. It is the most dynamic compositional form of the text.

2) interior monologue, a rather lengthy piece of the text (half a page and over) dealing with one major topic of the character's thinking, offering reasons for his past, present or future actions, which allows the author (and the readers) to peep into the inner world of the character, to observe his ideas and views in the making. This form of narrative exercises the so-called stream-of-consciousness technique which is based on the conception of the prevalence of the subconscious over the conscious; hence the recording of unperceived by senses or intellect emotions. It is especially popular with representatives of modernism and brought into contemporary literature a deeper insight into human psychology. Through SCT the narrator creates the illusion that without his or her interference, readers have direct access to the mental processes of the characters. As a result, the reader sees the fictional world through the "mental window" of the observing consciousness of the characters.

3) dialogue where personages express their minds in the form of uttered speech. In their exchange of remarks the participants of the dialogue, while discussing other people and their actions, expose themselves too.

4) represented (reported) speech which serves to show either the mental reproduction of a once uttered remark, or the character's thinking. The first case is known as represented uttered speech, the second one as represented inner speech. The latter is close to the personage's interior speech in essence, but differs from it in form: it is rendered in the third person singular and may have the author's remarks, i.e. it reflects the presence of the author's viewpoint alongside that of the character, while interior speech belongs to the personage completely, formally too, which is materialized through the first-person pronouns.

5) description supplies the presentation of the atmosphere, the scenery, the details of the appearance of people and other things of the literary work. Its basic types are objective and subjective. The objective description is a factual account. It is usually detailed. The subjective description gives only striking details. It focuses on the mood created in the story communicated to the reader.

6) retardation, the withholding of information until the appropriate time and the deliberate sustaining of anticipation by means of suspense.

7) the author's digression is an insertion which has no immediate relation to the theme. The author wanders away from the subject of the narrative to state his personal view or to make a general statement.

8) a flashback is a scene of the past inserted into the narrative. Flashbacks present the background information, appear in non-chronological order and may be related to various characters. Many stories are told with flashback techniques in which plot events from earlier times interrupt the story's "current" events.

9) foreshadowing is a look towards the future, a remark or hint that prepares the reader for what is to follow.


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