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Diegesis

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Diegesis

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In diegesis the author tells the story. He is the narrator himself who presents to the audience or the readership the thoughts of the characters in his play or novel and all that dwells within their imagination, their fantasies and dreams.

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Diegesis in contrast to mimesis

Diegesis (Greek διήγησις) has been contrasted since Plato's and Aristotle's times with mimesis, the form that is showing rather than telling the thoughts or the inner processes of characters, by external action and acting. Diegesis, however, is the main narrative in fiction and drama, the telling of the story by the author, in that he speaks to the reader or the audience directly. He may speak through his characters or may be the invisible narrator or even the all-knowing narrator who speaks from above in the form of commenting on the action or the characters.

What diegesis is

Diegesis may concern elements, such as characters, events and things within the main or primary narrative. However, the author may include elements which are not intended for the primary narrative, such as stories within stories; characters and events that may be referred to elsewhere or in historical contexts and that are therefore outside the main story and are thus presented in an extradiegetic situation.

Diegesis in literature

Almost certainly the most popular author to commonly employ this technique is Stephen King. Clear examples of it can be found in many of his novels.

Diegesis in film

In film, diegesis is the narrative that includes all the parts of the story, both those that are and those that are not actually shown on the screen (such as events that have led up to the present action; people who are being talked about; or events that are presumed to have happened elsewhere). Elements of a film can be "diegetic" or "non-diegetic." These terms are most commonly used in reference to sound in a film, but can apply to other elements. For example, an insert shot that depicts something that is neither taking place in the world of the film, nor is seen, imagined, or thought by a character, is a non-diegetic insert. Titles, subtitles, and voice-over narration (with some exceptions) are also non-diegetic.

Film sound and music

Sound in films is termed diegetic if it is part of the narrative sphere of the film. For instance, if a character in the film is playing a piano, or turns on a CD, the resulting sound is "diegetic." If, on the other hand, music plays in the background but cannot be heard by the film's characters, it is termed non-diegetic or, more accurately, extra-diegetic. The score of a film (commonly but erroneously called the "sound track") is "non-diegetic" sound.

Example: In The Truman Show, a sequence shows the characters at night, when most of them are sleeping. Soft, soothing music plays, as is common in such scenes, but we assume that it does not exist in the fictional world of the film. However, when the camera cuts to the control room of Truman's artificial world, we see that the mood music is being played by a man standing at a bank of keyboards. This abrupt shift from apparently non-diegetic to diegetic is a kind of cinematic joke.

Diegesis in Music-Theatre

As with film, the term 'diegetic' refers to the function of the music within a work's theatrical narrative, with particular relevance to the role of song. Within the typical format of opera/operetta, characters are not 'aware' that they are singing. This is a non-diegetic use of song. If however the song is presented as a musical occurrence within the plot, then the number may be described as 'diegetic'.

Example: In The Sound of Music, the number 'Doh, a Deer' is diegetic, since the characters are aware they are singing. The character Maria is using the song to teach the children how to sing. It exists within the narrative sphere of the characters. In contrast, the song 'How do you solve a problem like Maria?' is non-diegetic, since the musical material exists externally to the narrative.


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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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