Umberto Eco, Aristotle and Dexter: an in-Depth Narrative Analysis

Topics: Narrative, Umberto Eco, Semiotics Pages: 4 (917 words) Published: April 9, 2013
4.3 Theoretical discussion
4.3.1 Overview
When it comes to narrative analysis, there are various theories available to the researcher. Here follows a brief summary of some of the most prominent theorist’s theories of this field.

Umberto Eco’s concepts
 Binary oppositions – According to Eco there are fourteen constant binary groups as depicted by Wigston (2009a:292). The first four groups relate to two sets of two opposing characters in the narrative. The other ten groups are related to the different values depicted by the aforementioned characters.  Play situations – In accordance with Eco’s theory, there are nine different functions. Depending on the narrative in question, these functions do not need to follow each other chronologically, and can also be combined as well as repeated (Wigston 2009b:176), but each must be present.  Manichean ideology – Based on a Persian religious philosophy that proposes a balance exists between good and evil. Eco used this term to describe the stereotypical differences between the two characters set out in the binary oppositions. (Wigston 2009a:293)

4.3.3 Limitations and values of Umberto Eco’s theory of narrative analysis

As mentioned before the overview of the theorist involved in narrative analysis, Eco originally formulated his theory to determine why the James Bond novels were so popular. In other words, the narrative in question was in printed form. However, modern media has many additional codes other than just printed words, and therefore limits Eco’s the application of Eco’s theory somewhat (Wigston 2009a:297). Wigston points out that this model is not effective for analysing open-ended narratives such as soap operas or situation comedies (2009a:294). This does not mean that Eco’s theory is not useful whatsoever when analysing the narrative of visual media. In fact, it is the very malleability thereof that makes it a great ‘point of departure’ as Wigston (2009a:297) puts it. To apply Eco’s theory, the...
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