Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative Stylistics
Palaña, Lordinni S.
provides a way of retelling felt experience by
matching up patterns of language to a connected
series of events.
comprises two clauses which are temporally
change in their order will result in a change in th
way we interpret the assumed chronology of the
John dropped the plates and Janet
Two narrative clauses.
Suggest a temporal progression between the two
We assume that John’s misfortune preceded
Janet’s response, and that it was his misfortune
that brought about her response.
However, reversing the clauses to form
‘Janet laughed suddenly and John dropped
the plates’ would invite a different
interpretation: that is, that Janet’s laughter
not only preceded but actually lead to
development, elaboration, embellishment
(decoration); and it requires a sufficient
degree of stylistic flourish to give it an
imprint of individuality or personality.
Stories narrated without that flourish will
often feel flat and dull.
The sociolinguist William Labov has argued that narratives require
certain essential elements of structure which, when absent, render
the narrative ‘ill-formed’.
“Well this person had a little too much to
drink and he attacked me and the friend came
in and she stopped it .”
This story does satisfy the minimum criterion for narrative in that it
comprises temporally connected clauses, but it also lacks a number of
important elements which are important to the delivery of a successful
For instance, where and when this story took place ; who was involved
in the story ; how did the storyteller come to be in the same place as
the antagonist ; …
As well as lacking sufficient contextualisation, it offers little sense of
closure or finality. It also lacks any dramatic or rhetorical
There is clearly, then, more to a narrative than just a sequence of basic
There is much disagreement about how to isolate the various units
which combine to form, say, a novel or short story, just as there is
about how to explain the interconnections between these narrative
Narrative structure is only one side of a coin of which narrative
comprehension is the other .
It is common for much work in stylistics and narratology to make a
primary distinction between two basic components of narrative:
narrative plot and narrative discourse.
The term plot is the abstract storyline of a narrative; that is, the
sequence of elemental, chronologically ordered events which create
the ‘inner core’ of a narrative.
Narrative discourse, by contrast, encompasses the manner or means
by which that plot is narrated (e.g. the use of stylistic devices such as
flashback, prevision and repetition – all of which serve to disrupt the
basic chronology of the narrative’s plot.) Thus, narrative discourse
represents the realized text, the overt piece of language which is
produced by a story-teller in a given interactive context.
Domain in Stylistics:
Textual medium : The physical channel of
communication through which a story is
Sociolinguistic code : expresses through
language the historical, cultural and linguistic
setting which frames a narrative.
Characterisation 1: actions and events:
how the development of character precipitates
(to make something happen suddenly and
quickly) and intersects (interconnect) with the
Characterisation 2: point of view:
the relationship between mode of narration and
a character’s or narrator’s ‘point of view’.
Textual structure : the way individual
narrative units are arranged and organized in
Intertextuality: the technique of ‘allusion’.
Narrative fiction does not exist in a social and
historical vacuum (isolation from external
influences) , and it often echoes other texts
and images either as ‘implicit’ intertextuality or
“We do not smile