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ENG110Y5 Study Guide - Antihero, Agon, Narratology

6 pages41 viewsWinter 2013

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Cary Dipietro

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is one of the most common rhetorical effects of narrative. When we
come across a sequence of events related in a narrative order, our
natural inclination is to read some causal connection between them
(one event to another event in a narrative order becomes cause and
effect). Causal narratives are the most powerful and lasting of
narratives because they satisfy our need or desire for causation.
Narratives also often exploit our need for causation, confusing the
difference between causally related events and correlation between
one of the necessary components of the narrative’s story the
sequence of events or action and arguably the most important
function of narrative: while the action or sequence of events forms the
plot, narratives ultimately function to reveal entities or characters
involved in actions who have agency over or within those events or
actions or for whom the events are meaningful; and, in doing so,
narratives enhance our own understanding of ourselves. A fallacy
projected by the narrative is that characters are real, however
unbelievable or extraordinary they appear. This is an effect of
causation, the need to explain the motivations and actions of
characters as if they were fully formed psychological entities. As a
result, filling in the character gaps poses one of the greatest
challenges to interpretation. Characters can also therefore be
characterized according to their depth: flat characters lack depth and
follow predictable behaviors; round characters are more complex and
require greater explanation. Insofar as characters are not real people,
but function within narratives that conform to expectations formed by
genre, all characters might also be seen to be prefigured by types.
Types are kinds of characters which recur through different narrative
forms. When characters adhere too strictly to types, without invention
or depth, they are referred to as stereotypes.
which should not be confused with ending, is the sense of conflict
resolution which usually, but not always, comes at the end of a
narrative. Narratives are therefore also characterized by their lack of
closure, which is created by suspense (a delay of gratifying our
expectations) and surprise (the violation of our
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expectations). Closure answers the narrative conflict, which might
also be understood in more plural terms as the multiple expectations
and questions which the narrative generates. Expectations are
actions or events which the narrative leads us to expect (suspense)
and which therefore play a role in concepts such as genre and
masterplot though successful narratives also often violate our
expectations (surprise). Narratives also generate closure and lack of
closure at the level of questions. The difference might be understood
as that between knowing that a murder mystery will end with the
revelation of the murderer (expectations) and knowing who did it
(also known by the Greek term agon) is present in almost all
narratives of literary interest. The conflict or agon is a contest of
power between the protagonist (or hero) and antagonist (or anti-
hero). The conflict in a narrative is not always a simple contest
between opposing powers, but may take the form of several
characters and multiple conflicts. In any case, conflicts appeal to our
need for closure.
also related to the concept of masterplot, a genre is a recurrent
literary form. Genre means very broadly "kind" or "type", and can
refer to any formal or informal characteristic similarities between
narratives (the novel, travelogue, tragedy, comedy, history, etc.).
Although an inelegant way to refer to the author, the term "implied
author" reminds us that the sense of the author we get from the
narrative is, like the narrator or the narrative's characters, a rhetorical
effect--in the case of written narratives, of words on the page. The
narrative may express the ideas and attitudes of a once-living,
breathing author (and he or she may still be living), but we interpret
those ideas and attitudes as they are implied by the narrative.
(sometimes referred to as master narrative) is a story which has been
told so often in a given culture that it becomes familiar, recognizable,
even cherished; masterplots often become defining features of a
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