Apply the structuralist theories of Todorov, Barthes, Propp and Levi-Strauss to "Star Wars" or a text of your choice!!

Essay by sumeetbanker March 2004

download word file, 2 pages 2.0

Downloaded 48 times

In order to get a better understanding of Narratives and Structures of stories, we can

look and apply theories that will help us. There are 4 theorists that we mainly look at,

Todorov, Barthes, Propp and Levi-Strauss that have made up theories for Myths and

Folktales. Todorov believes, that all stories begin with what he called Equilibrium (or

balance) between opposing forces. This is disrupted by some event, setting in train a

series of events to close with a second but different equilibrium. Barthes has made up 2

different codes that can be applied, The Enigma Code and The Action Code. The

Enigma Code, which sets up little puzzles to be solved. And the Action Code that is

to be read by means of accumulated details (looks, significant words, etc). These often

relate to stereotypical models, such as "falling in Love!" Propp believes that the spheres

of action in a story could be reduced to 8 character roles.

The Villain, The Hero, The

Donor, The Helper, The Princess, The Princess' Father, The Dispatcher and the False

Hero. Levi-Strauss used the term "Binary Oppositions" to describe a conflict between

two qualities. For example, if we apply it to a western genre, we have to Home Steaders

(or Cowboys) V's The Natives (or Indians).

These theories can be applied to many Mythical films and Texts such as "Spiderman",

"Braveheart", "Shrek", and even the well-known sci-fi "Star Wars". We can apply

Todorov's theory to the beginning of Star Wars; we find out through text on the screen

that there has been an event, which has disrupted the peace between 2 opposing

forces. Firstly, there was equilibrium but an event occurred leading to some plans had

been stolen, and Darth Vader planning an attack on the empire to pull Princess Lea out

of power. This leads a series of events, which carry on through the movie, until the end

of the movie when another equilibrium is reached.

Barthes' Enigma code of little puzzles can be found and pulled out of little part of the

film. Like, the question "Who is Ben Kan Obi?" and "Who is Darth Vader?" Just little

questions through out the movie, which keeps the audience thinking. The theory of the

Action Code can be found looks, feelings and impressions on the character's faces. For

example, When Luke Skywalker first see the women in C-3PO's memory, we

immediately see how infatuated Luke is by the sight of her. And we hear a significant

line "Wow... who's that? She's beautiful!" And the sound of his voice and look on his

face immediately suggests falling in Love!!

Propp's theory of 8 main character roles can easily be found within the roles of each of

the characters in Star Wars.

The Villain, ultimately being Darth Vader.

The Hero, we see from the beginning as Luke Skywalker.

The Donor, Obi Wan Kanobi (Ben Kanobi)

The Helper,

The Princess, the object of Luke's affection, Princess Lea!!

The Princess' Father

The Dispatcher, Obi Wan Kanobi (Ben Kanobi)

The False Hero,

Levi-Strauss' theory of there being conflict between two "Binary Oppositions" fits

straight into the story of Star Wars. The Empire V's Darth Vader and the Dark side!! The

Empire being the stronger side, with those who believe in the "force" and Darth Vader,

who after training to be a Jedi Knight, went against the empire (as predicted by Yoda in

the Prequel) fell into the Dark side. We see this through semiotics in the film, character's

like Princess Lea, Luke Skywalker and those as part of the empire wear clothes that are

usually white connoting purity, and in some cases Good. Darth Vader and those who

follow him usually wear black clothing to go with the Dark side, also connoting Evil.