Simplified Stories

Vladimir Propp’s in Folk and Fairy Tales analyses.

1- A brief definition and history of the initiation of the theory:

The Vladimir Propp’s literary theory “Morphology of the Folktales”:

Vladimir Propp published Morphology of the Folktale in 1928; in which he tried to identify a so-called “grammar of narrative.” In botany, the word ‘morphology’ means the study of a plant’s structure. Propp attempted to find a similar deep structure underlying any number of stories. In his study, Propp completely ignored the historical and social context of the tales he examined. He worked with a body of Russian folktales, which he believed all possessed the same structure of ‘narrative functions’ (possible actions). These functions are like buliding blocks and follow the chronological order of a linear sequence. According to Propp, similar events of two completely different stories can be grouped together into one function.

2- The eight Dramatis Personae of characters in the play that Propp utilized in his theories and analyses:

Propp doesn’t spend too much time on possible character types, because to him, they are mere vessels for actions, mechanisms to distribute the functions around the story. Nonetheless, he identifies seven character types, or, “spheres of action”:

  1. The villain
    2. The donor
    3. The helper
    4. The princess (or ‘sought-for-person’) and her father
    5. The dispatcher
    6. The hero (seeker or victim)
    7. The false hero

This may seem very limiting to the plot of the story itself, but becomes more versatile when we consider the fact that one character may fulfill more than one of these spheres, and one role can employ more than one character. With these seven spheres of action and the list of thirty-one functions, we can generate the plot of any Russian folktale in Propp’s corpus.

Even though this kind of analysis may lead to interesting results (like discovering the structural similarities between Cinderella and Jane Eyre, for example), Propp’s system completely ignores qualities and orientations like social and historical context, style, point of view and pretty much anything specific to the works as well as characterizations.

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Greetings, My name is Sofiane, I am a Theorist, a Philosopher and an enthusiastic writer of several fields, and pretty much the sphere of Literature and its vast aspects such as Creative Writing and Critical Thinking wholeheartedly, this Blog is yet an example of what our community can provide to the world with the cornerstone of bursting to the colossus of intellectuality vigorously.

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