Analysing the Black Cat Using Labov's Narrative Structure

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Narrative, Short story Pages: 19 (5707 words) Published: April 16, 2010

For this assignment, the study aims to:

1. produce a frequency chart according to the elements of Labov’s Narrative Structure

2. discuss the way Edgar Allen Poe structured his short story to form the elements of tragedy, mystery and terror as presented in the short story

In completing the task, I will use Labov’s Narrative Theory to conduct narrative analysis of the short story, The Black Cat written by Edgar Allan Poe. The structure of this essay begins with the introduction to narrative and narrative analysis. The second part develops in the literature review where I will explain Labov’s Narrative Structure and introducing the author of the story, Edgar Allan Poe. The section ends with the discussion of The Black Cat from non-linguistic perspectives proposed by different scholars. The peak of the task is in the third part which is the analysis of the story where the discussion mainly covers the most appealing element from Labov’s Theory used by Allan Poe to structure his story to create terror and horror sentiments. The analysis will be seen from linguistic point of view on how linguistic features or forms are associated with certain functions.


Defining Narrative

The word ‘Narrative’ derives from the Latin narre which means ‘to make known’, so narratives frequently convey information. (Lacey,N.,2000). If we are using this definition, perhaps it may cover a wide range of format or genre in which may not be considered narrative as in timetable or lab report. Lacey,N (2000) points out that what distinguishes narrative from other forms is that it presents information as a connected sequence of events and these events are structured logically and causally; each event is derived from the previous event. Wikipedia, (2010) explains in a broader context that narrative is a story that is created in a constructive format in a form of writing, speech, poetry, prose, pictures, song, motion pictures, video games, theatre or dance in which describe a sequence of fictional or non-fictional events.

The simplest way of describing the term narrative is someone telling someone else that something happened (Barbara Herrnstein Smith, 1981). Barbara’s definition of narrative reflects the idea that narrative occurs in most of daily conversations and involves personal experience and interest. In All American: Glossary of Literary Terms, narrative is seen as a collection of events that tells a story, which may be true or not, placed in a particular order and recounted through either telling or writing. It is a recapitulating event that is told by someone and it is naturally and purposely arranged in an acceptable way. Literary Terms and Definition proposes narrative as a story or an account in which it is usually creative and imaginative rather than strictly factual, as evidenced in fairy tales, legends, novels, novelettes, short stories, etceteras. The involvement of personal touch in many of narrative work allows readers to create an imaginative atmosphere that brings the readers into the authors’ world and even in some narratives, they persuade the readers to view the world through their eyes. The motives behind literary work are perhaps hidden behind the characters’ disposition and also the description of scenes and situations.

Other scholars like Seymour Chatman and Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, point out that narrative is a structure which is made up of narrative statements (Chatman,S., 1990) and narrative consists of characteristics as follows; 1) events, governed by temporality, or – more precisely – a double temporality (the chronology of the events and their presentation in the text); 2)telling or narration, as an act of mediation or transmission which, in literature, is verbal.

Labov (1972) defines narrative as consisting minimally of two temporally ordered clauses, and reversing the order of the clauses would change the story. In his hypothesis with his friend, Waletzky, fundamental...
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