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CLAUDE LEVISTRAUSS

BY HANNAH LANSDOWN

WHO IS LEVI-STRAUSS?
He was born in 1908 and died in 2009
Levi-Strauss began to study philosophy however he went on to
become interested in anthropology so he started studying
human societies and cultures and their development.
From this he developed structuralism so was analysing human
cognition, behaviour, culture, and experience.
After he had studied these things Levi-Strauss derived the
concept of binary opposites which he then went on to use as
the fundamentals of his binary oppositions theory.

THEORY
He analysed how stories unconsciously present values, myths and
beliefs of a culture whilst using binary opposites.
Levi-Strauss believed that our world can be explained through these
binary opposites. Therefore his theory suggests that most media texts
contain these and they are used to describe relationships between
characters.
This theory has been taken and used to find hidden themes and
symbolic messages in media texts.
He used this theory to explain why conflicts in media texts occur and this
is often what leads to the climax of any film. This can then be linked to
Todorov's narrative theory and would relate to the 2 nd stage, disruption
of equilibrium. The binary opposites having different views, cultures, etc.
means that a problem/issue arises which disrupts the narrative.

BINARY OPPOSITIONS EXAMPLES


Weak vs strong
Good vs evil
East vs west
Christian vs pagan
Young vs old
Male vs female
Truth vs lies
Morality vs immorality
Natural vs unnatural

BINARY OPPOSITIONS IN THE


THRILLER GENRE
This theory can be heavily related to the thriller genre in the
sense that conflict occurs in the narrative.
The 2 binary opposites are usually present in the main
characters and these typically are the people that cause the
disruption in the story line.
This is where the conflict stems from, the opposites disagree
and this is usually at the climax of the film.

VERTIGO- 1958
We can apply Strauss theory to the characters in this opening scene.
Good vs evil- the policeman (good) is chasing a man (evil). The policeman is
chasing someone who has done something wrong therefore he presents evil.
As the policeman is a man of law he presents the good.
War vs peace- there could be an underlying message of war and peace. The
policeman is chasing someone who we assume is a criminal to stop them
from committing more crimes. He is demonstrating an act of peace-making
and the man he is chasing could potentially be dangerous so we can relate
this to war.
Justice vs injustice- the policeman represents the justice in this situation as he
is part of the justice system. The man being chased shows injustice because
we can assume that he has done something wrong to be in this position.