Research/Enquiry- Narratology – Theories and Concepts

Narratology is the structure in how we process and perceive knowledge through themes, symbols and conventional methods.  Traditional narratives usually consist of a beginning, a middle and an end and emphasises on characters that can be physiologically believable.


Narrartive as Theory- Gustav Freytag’s Triangle

German writer Gustav Freytag was a theorist in the structural elements of the progression of narrative.  Following his studies in Philology in germany, he began a career as a lecturer at the University of Breslau.  Freytag later moved on to focus on writing as he had great interest for the occurring revolutonary developments of the 17th century.  He gathered influence from the likes of Charles Dickens and other novelists with some of his most successful works such as ‘Soll and Haben’ (1855) becoming known throughout the world.

Freytag created a theory which determines what happens when one follows time and plot within a narrative:

Exposition- Freytag theorises how this part of narrative brings emphasis on background and information to introduce the audience to the setting.  For example, characters are introduced and prologues highlight details that will be returned to later.

Rising Action- Fretag theorises how soon after the exposition stage, a rising action is brought across to the story in which the audience begins to see the particular fields of interest that sets a goal or message that will eventually be revealed.

Climax- Freytag theorises how this stage reveals more active setting in which twists are plotted against the protagonist and the audience is drawn into an unfolding of events that requires elements of problem solving.

Falling Action- At this stage, Freytag theorises how there is a final unravelling of events which leads up to the final outcome.  At this stage, it is unknown what could happen and the audience is left in suspense.

Denouement- This final stage of the triangle reveals the result of the previous events, ending the story.  However, this can happen in various methods for some stories may end as a ‘happily ever afterno or other narrative methods use a cliffhanger to emphasise thought provoking theory and to potentially continue the story as an additional chapter for a later time.

Reflecting upon this theory, I find Freytag has made an even break down of what occurs during narrative presentation.  This theory is influential towards how I number my series of works which brings to mind how each image can convey a new development in my own narratives presented.  For example, my most recent further developed projects which explores the individuals journey through a collection of three piece series integrates changing of the space, positioning of the subject and a more subjective focus.


Narratological Experiences in Media


Games- Within the gaming world, narrative is a crucial element in support of the player to understand the objectives given in the medium.  Within games, these are often displayed as cutscenes and short movies upon beginnings and completion of the game which determines occurring events depending on the actions of the player.  One game which draws particularly well on narrative is the short horror game titled ‘The Path’ created by Tale of Tales in 2009.  This game brings an unusual approach to narrative in which the game gives reference to the classic fairytale story of Red Riding Hood.  The progress of the narrative element is dependent on the actions of the player where the player is given the choice of how the story develops.  From my own experience playing this game, I found it very stimulating as not only is the player able to effect developments in story, the player is also able to effect their functional avatar.

Movies- In the current movie world, previous narratives are often retold to new generations.  The recycling of classic stories brings new perspective to the audience in which they can bear witness to a different interpretation of the original.  The Walt Disney studios are one company franchise who have frequently brought this into play with recent releases including Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland in which Disney have reinterpreted the story aimed towards a contemporary audience.  I find films such as this introduce the new generation more possibilities in how they perceive the story and this gives the audience a chance to ‘rethink’ the narrative.

In conclusion,  I find Freytag’s theory of narratology and the revision of narrative to current audiences revitalises our perception of story and this brings chance of preserving previous narratives and reinventing them.



Gustav Freytag. 2016. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 01 January, 2016, from

Tale of Tales (2009) The Path- a short horror game by Tale of Tales [Online] Available from:

London on the Inside (2015) Alice in Wonderland Exhibition [Online] Available from: (Accessed 20/12/2015)


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