This chapter explains the theories that will be used in analysing this thesis. The theories will help the reader to understand the focus and relation between the theories and the film, especially to prove the counter act of the blonde woman stereotype.
There are three sections that will be explained in this chapter. The first section will explain about the blond woman stereotypes. The second consists of the intrinsic elements which is the elements of fiction that covers character, setting, plot, theme, and symbol and characterization. The third section consists of extrinsic elements which is the structuralism theory.
2.1 Elements of Fiction
“There are seven elements of fiction in analysing a story such as plot, character, setting, point of view, style, symbol, and theme” (DiYanni, 2001, p.55). However, only four elements that will be used in analysing this thesis which are character and characterization, setting and plot that will support to answer the problem formulation.
Character in fiction is an important element that cannot be separated from a story. “The fictional characters are the imaginary people that the writers create, identify, and sometimes judge” (DiYanni, 2001, p.55). At the same time, Ye Qi also states, “The impression of character are formed through personal appearance, conversation, impression of others, and action” (2013, p.133). DiYanni classifies the type of character into four. She states that,“Characters in fiction can be conveniently classified as major and minor, static and dynamic” (2001, p.55).
Based on the two author’s definition of character, it can be said that characters are the imaginary presenters that take roles of the work of literature through their traits and actions. There are two types of character that will be explained such as major and minor character.
188.8.131.52 Major Character
“A major character is a very important figure at the center of the action of the story or theme.” (DiYanni, 2001, p.55). The major character appears more often in the story because he or she is the one that has the story’s conflict and experiences a variety of events in achieving goals. As DiYanni explaines, “The major character is usually called a protagonist.” (2001, p.55) For example, the major character or the protagonist in the Eat Pray Love film is Liz, because she faces most of problems in the story and she is the one who solves it.
184.108.40.206 Minor Character
“Minor character is the character that support the main character.” (DiYanni, 2001, p.55). According to DiYanni,”The function of the minor character is to illuminate the major characters.”(2001, p.55) The position of minor character is as important as major character because the conflicts between major and minor character spark the story’s conflict.
“Setting is the place or location of a story’s action along with the time in which it occurs” (DiYanni, 2001, p.61). Setting of a story is very essential because its function is to provide a historical or cultural context that enhances our understanding of the characters and also symbolises the emotional state of the characters. Setting can be shown through events, descriptions, actions and repetitions. There are two most important setting which are physical and social setting.
220.127.116.11 Physical Setting
Physical setting is vital in a story. “It is the physical background of the story such as place and location where the story takes place” (DiYanni, 2001, p.62). As DiYanni states, “Physical details of setting are associated with the values, ideals, and attitudes of that place in different times.” (DiYanni, 2001, p. 62)
18.104.22.168 Social Setting
Unlike physical setting that is related to time and place, “Social setting more emphasises the psycological and moral conditions” (Taylor, 1981, p.70). It is related with people’s attitude or behavior, tradiiton, social values, etc. It also includes the culture of the society which can affect the characters in the story. Gill also gives the similar statement that, “The social setting includes the family, friends, social classes, customs, beliefs, rules of behavior that give identity to the society.” (Gill, 1995, p.48)
“Plot is the arrangement of events which contains a sequence of incidents that make causal relationship to each other in the story” (DiYanni, 2001, p.44). As DiYanni states, “Plot are divided into five parts such as exposition, conflict, complication, climax, and resolution” (DiYanni, 2001, p. 44-45).
According to DiYanni,”Fictional plots begin with exposition” (DiYanni, 2001, p.44). Exposition carries the important information to understand the whole story. It provides background information, describes the setting of the story, and introduces the major character. In this part, the development of the conflict will be introduced as well.
In the simplest term,”Conflict is a clash between two incompatible sides” (Bell, 2011, p.6). The two sides here are the opposing forces, protagonist and antagonist, who struggle to reach their purposes. Protagonist is the central character that has the conflict while the opposed character is the antagonist.
“Climax of the story is the peak of the conflict. It is the main turning point or moment of highest tension in a story” (DiYanni, 2001, p.45). At the climax of the story, the main character must make difficult decisions or take some kind of actions to solve his or her problems.
“The resolution of the story is the condition where the actions falls out and complications of the story are sorted and resolved, the questions answered, and lives straightened out” (DiYanni, 2001 : 45). In the resolution, or also called denoument, the characters succeed to solve the problem and the story ends.
Gill stated that, “Characterization is the way in which a character is created” (1995, p.127). In other words, the use of characterization is to describe the personalities of the character.
Arp divided the way of presenting the character into two such as direct and indirect presentation. According to Arp (2006, p.104), “Direct presentation tells the viewers straight out, by exposition or analysis, what the characters are like, or by using another character in the story to describe them.”
It means that direct presentation is the way the author shows the personalities or looks of a character by describing it directly or through another character involved in the story.
On the other hand, Arp stated that,“In indirect presentation, the author shows the viewers through the character’s actions” (2006, p. 104). It can be said that indirect presentation makes viewers understand the personalities of the character through the way the character speaks or takes an action.
Lippmann (2012) argued that, “Stereotypes are beliefs, thoughts, images and lables that individuals give to other people in groups influenced by culture,” as he stated :
“Stereotypes are picture in our heads of people in other groups, created by culture, and used to give meaning to the behavior of others. Although stereotypes are also products of our cognitive system, culture provided their content and impetus; therefore, stereotypes were defined as beliefs shared by a large of number of people within culture.” (Lipmann, 2012, p.64)
It can be said that stereotype is the picture or belief and thoughts given by a large number people outside a particular group to the other group within culture.
2.2.1 Blonde Woman Stereotypes
“Popular images associated with hair color do seem to persist. Some have the blonde (female) as the cultural ideal of the beautiful, pure female, yet we also have a fast, dangerous blonde.”(Lawson, 1971, p.312)
“A blond woman is often perceived as making little use ofintelligenceand as a woman who relies on her looks rather than on intelligence” (Sherrow, 2006, p.255). At the same time,“People tend to presume that blondes are less serious-minded and less intelligent thanbrunettes, as reflected in blonde jokes” (Sherrow, 2006, p.149). It can be said that blonde woman is only considered good based on her physical appearance yet lacking of intelligence. Through people’s assumption, the competition between the blondes and brunettes are seen.
In accordance with Sherrow’s statement, Paterson (1930, p.214-220) described the characteristics of Brunette as,“Negative, static, conservative, imitative, submissive, cautious, painstaking, plodding, slow, deliberate, serious, thoughtful, specializing characteristics.”
Paterson’s statement is supported with a research conducted by Lawson (1971) about American culture that has built up a number of images which relate to hair color. Based on the Table 2.1, it is seen that the characteristics of blonde and brunette are very contradictory in the eyes of American society. These view and contradiction become a stereotypes for blonde woman which is also influenced by blonde jokes as Sherrow has mentioned that a blonde woman only relies on her looks rather than on intelligence and less serious than brunettes, as seen on the Table 2.1 below:
Tabel 2.1 Significant Differences of Personality Characteristics Associated with Female Hair Color by Respondent Different Hair Color.
All 79 Male
(Source: Lawson, 1971, p.318)
Thomas clarified that, “The blonde joke is catagory of jokes that employs ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype which overlaps at times with the jokes that portray the blonde-haired girl as the subject of the joke as lack of intelligence, promiscuous and dumb.” (Thomas, 1997, p.134).
It is shown in a blonde joke entitled Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (a comic novel, a Broadway musical, and two films) explores the jokes and appeal of blond women. The film starred Marilyn Monroe as the sexy blonde and Jane Russell as her wise brunette friend. It describes Monroe's role as a fragile woman who relied on her looks rather than on intelligence—what some people refer to as ‘dumb blond’.” (Sherrow, 2006, p.149-151)
“Dumb blondes are defined by their combination of overt, natural sexuality with a profound ignorance and innocence manifest in an inability to understand even the most elementary facts of everyday life. It is the lack of understanding of what is obvious to ordinary people that is the basis of dumb blonde humor. However, dumb blonde humor can also contain the irrationality and the hypocricy of the social order and makes dumb blonde stereotype.” (Kuhn & Radstone, 1994, p.47)
By knowing the example of the blonde jokes above, it is clearly seen that the blonde jokes that show blonde women’s innocence and lack of intelligence are the influence of the dumb blonde stereotype occurance.
2.3 Structuralism Theory
According to Simon (2008), “Structuralism is a theoretical paradigm in sociology, anthropology, linguistics and semiotics positing that elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure.”
Barker stated that, “Structuralism speaks of signifying practices that generate meaning as an outcome of structures of predictable regularities that lie outside of any given person. Structuralism searches for the constraining patterns of culture and social life which lie outside of any given person” (2012, p.15).
It can be said that the structure of signs is used to analyse the human relations, material objects and images. The aim of structuralism is to find the general cultural meaning of certain words. It is also seen that a sign or object’s meaning is always created externally to the object itself.
A French anthropologist and also a structuralist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, was interested in the way that meanings are derived from binary oppositions, as follows :
”Kinship systems as ‘like a language’, meaning the family relations are held to be structured by the internal organisation of binaries. Lévi Strauss tends toward the structuralist trope of binaries : the raw and the cooked, the edible and the inedible, nature and culture, each of which has meaning only in relation to its opposite. Cooking transform nature into culture and the raw in to the cooked. The binary oppositions of edible and the inedible are marked not by questions of nutrition but by cultural meanings. The binary oppositions mark another binary, insiders and outsiders, and hence the boundaries of the culture or social order.” (Barker, 2012, p.12)
By the explanation above, it can be said that the way people understand certain words depends not so much on the meaning they directly contain, but by people’s understanding of the difference between the word and its opposite which Lévi-Strauss called binary opposite. It is also seen that words act as symbols for society's ideas, which have been said, ‘edible’ as insiders, and ‘inedible’ as outsiders in a society, so that the meaning of the words is a relationship between the opposing ideas.
According to Barker (2012), another structuralist Roland Barthes talked about two systems of signification: denotation and connotation, as he clarified :
“Dennotation is the descriptive and literal level of meaning shared by virtually all members of culture. Thus, ‘pig’ denotes the concept of a useful pink farm animal with a snout and curly tail,etc. On the one hand, connotation involves meanings that are generated by connecting signifiers to wider cultural concerns. Here, meaning involves the association of signs with other cultural codes of meaning. Thus, ‘pig’ may connote a nasty police officer or male chauvinist according to the sub-codes or lexicon at work.” (Barker, 2012, p.79)
Barthes stated that,”Connotation concerns meanings that multiply up from given sign so that a single sign becomes loaded with many meanings. When connotations have become naturalised, that is, accepted as ‘normal’ and ‘natural’, they act as conceptual maps of meaning by which to make sense of the world, so that it makes myths. Though myths are cultural constructions, they may appear to be pre-given universal truths embedded in common sense. Myth are thus akin to the concept of ideology which works at the level of connotation.” (Barker, p.79, 2012)
So it can be said that since myth has many aspects of connotation, it can emerge many meanings. Therefore, myth which is constructed by culture and society can be analysed in order to find the denotation or truth lies on society.
In accordance with Barthes, Lévi-Strauss (1995, p.11) also stated that,”Myths are primarily acknowledged as oral traditions, while literature is in the form of written text. Mythical stories, are or seem, arbitrary, meaningless, absurd, yet nevertheless they seem to reappear all over the world. Myth, here a part of religion, is considered to be the primitive counterpart to science, which is assumed to be exclusively modern. Because moderns by definition accept science, they cannot also have myth”. Furthermore, Lévi-Strauss(1995) stated that,”The growth of the myth only ends when the intellectual impulse which has produced it is exhausted.”
Based on the ideas, it can be seen that since myth as the oral tradition is only arbitrary primitive thoughts, it becomes meaningless because there is no scientific proof. Therefore, modern intellectual impulse is needed to stop the growth of these unimportant thoughts all over the world.
In Mythologiques, Strauss stated that,”Mythemes, basic units of myth, must lend themselves to binary operations, since such operations are an inherent feature of the means invented by nature to make possible the functioning of language and thoughts.”(1995, p.40) By Strauss statement, it shows that myth can be used to reveal the binary contradictions to find the plausible thoughts that can be accepted by common sense.