User:Andre Castro/2.1/annot/propp fucnt

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Vladrimir Propp Morphology of the Folktale

In 1928 Vladrimir Propp proposed a formal analyses of Russian fairy tales. His effort were intended to arrive at a morphology of Russian folktales. In order to draw such morphology Propp study the tales by focusing on the "the functions of its dramatis personae"(p.7). In other words, the study focuses on the what action is performed and not on who performs it or how is performed, as "characters of a tale, however varied they may be, often perform the same action. The actual means of the realization of functions can vary, and as such, it is a variable... But the function, as such, is a constant." (p.8)


A function is a slot belonging to an action, that will be filled both by the way its undertaken and the character that undertakes it. The function forms the constant and stable unit, while the latter constitute its variables. "Function is understood as an act of the character, defined from the point of view of its significance for the course of the action"(p 8). Let's take as an example the function 'lack'. Its summary tell us that "a member of the family lacks or desires something". And its subcategories states that several acts can perform that function, according to the object of lacking: the bride, a magical agent, or a wondrous object.

It should be also noted that the acts performed in each function are interdependent. As in the function interdiction violated(3): "the form o violation corresponds to the type of interdiction(2 and 3 are a pair)" As and example we can have the following functions

{ } absentation
{ } interdiction
{ } interdiction violated

which have as some of the possible actions:

{ older generation absent / death of parents / younger generation absent   } absentation
{ normal / inverted } interdiction
{ (dependent on the violation) } interdiction violated

Uniformity and Multifomity

Such system of fixed and finite elements, combined with interchangeable and numerous characters , give the tale its "multiformity, picturesqueness, and color, and on the other hand, its no less striking uniformity, its repetition"(p.8).

Its uniform and repetitive nature allows the audience to know what will be the next action, what will happen to he hero at a give moment, how will he react, etc.
[ Why is the uniformity important ??]
[++ Janer Murray - Yugoslavian folk songs / commedia del arte  - expectation and predictability]


"The sequence of elements ... is strictly uniform. Freedom within this sequence if restricted by very narrow limits which can exactly formulated"(p.9). And even though certain function are excluded from given tales, this doesn't alter the sequence. Propp suggests that tales can even be group according to the function these possess. Yet, Propp argues that the sequence of functions in the tale constantly follows the same logic, where a given function is always succeeded by a given other.

It must also be said that meaning of an action derives from its positioning in the course of the narrative. (p.8)



The tale begins with an initial situation. Example: Members of a family are enumerated, the future event are introduced now. (It constitutes not a function, but still an important morphological element)

  • scenario of prosperity
    • prepares to what will come later
    • servers as contrast
  • absentation take place -(might happen or not)
  • interdiction is introduced
  • interdiction is violated
  • villain enters - his role is to disturb the balance

                         "summary":"one member of the family absents himself from home", 
        "members of older generation absent (parents, husband)",
        "intensified absent: death of parents",
        "members of younger generation absent"

                         "summary":"an interdiction, often in the form a command, addressed to the hero. Can exist without, or following an absentation", 
        "normal: 'do not go fishing'",
        "inverted - order or suggestion: 'take your brother to the woods'" 

foltktale_functions['interdiction violated']={"number":"3", 
                         "summary":"the form o violation corresponds to the type of interdiction(2 and 3 are a pair)", 

                         "summary":"villain makes attempt at reconnaissance", 
        "normal: finding location of x", 
        "inverted: when the victim questions the villain"

foltktale_functions['delivery']={"number": 5, 
                         "summary":"villain receives information about the victim", 

                         "summary":"villain attempts to deceive the victim in order to take possession of him or his belongings", 
        "villain uses persuasion", 
        "villain acts through magical means",
        "villain use means of coercion"

                         "summary":"victim submits to deception and thereby unwittingly helps the enemy", 
        "hero agrees with villain",
        "hero reacts to the employment of magic",

                         "summary":"villain causes harm to a member of a family. This is the moment when the movement of the tale is created. Previous actions prepare ground for villainy to happen. Complications begins at this point", 
        'various forms of villainy'

                         "summary":"a member of the family lacks or desires something", 
        "set according to object of lack:bride, magical agent, wondrous object, etc."

                         "summary":"misfortune or lack is made known. The seeker-hero is approached with request or command. He is allowed to go. The seeker-hero will either be introduced and save the victim", "Hero is the victim: victim-hero", 
        "call is given for help and hero is dispatched", 
        "hero is dispatched directly", 
        "hero is allowed to depart from home, initiative coming from him", 
        "misfortune is announce, causing hero to decide to leave",
        "hero is transported from home",
        "the hero condemned to death is secretly free",
        "a lament is sung, invoking a counteraction",

foltktale_functions['beginning of counteraction']={"number":10, 
                         "summary":"the seeker-hero agrees or decides upon counteraction. It is marked by works such as: 'Permit us to look for the princess'", 

                         "summary":"the hero leaves home", 

foltktale_functions['the 1st function of the donor']={"number":12, 
                         "summary":"the hero is tested, interrogated, attacked, etc, which prepares the way for him to receive a magical agent or helper", 
        "donor tests the hero",
        "donor greets and interrogates the hero",
        "a dying or deceased person requests a service",
        "a prisoner begs for his freedom",
        "hero is approached with a request for mercy(from donor)",
        "disputants request a division of property",
        "a hostile creature tries to destroy the hero",
        "a hostile creature fight with the hero",
        "hero is shown a magical agent offered for exchange",

foltktale_functions["hero's reaction"]={"number":13, 
                         "summary":"hero reacts to actions of the future donor", 
        "hero withstands (or not) the test",
        "hero answers (or not) the greeting",
        "hero renders (or not) the service to the dead person",
        "hero frees a captive",
        "hero shows mercy to supplicant",
        "hero deceives the disputants and reconciles them",
        "hero defeats (or not) adversary",
        "hero agrees on exchange and uses the magical agent against its barter",

foltktale_functions['provision or receipt of a magical agent']={"number":14, 
                         "summary":"hero acquires the use of a magical agent: animals,objects with magical helpers,object with magical properties,capacities given,", 
        "agent is transferred",
        "agent is indicated",
        "agent is prepared",
        "agent is sold and purchased",
        "agent falls into the hands of the hero by chance",
        "agent suddenly appears",
        "agent is eaten or drunk",
        "agent is sized",
        "various characters place themselves at the disposal of the hero",
        "hero might posses magical qualities or special attributes",

foltktale_functions['spacial transfer']={"number":15, 
                         "summary":"hero is transferred,delivered, or led to the location of an object or search", 
        "hero flies through air",
        "hero travels on the ground or water",
        "hero is led",
        "the route is show to the hero",
        "hero makes use of bridge or tunnel",
        "hero follow bloody track",

                         "summary":"villain and hero join in direct combat", 
        "they fight in the open field",
        "they engage in competition",
        "they play cards",

                         "summary":"the hero is branded by a wound", 

                         "summary":"the hero defeats the villain", 
        "villain is defeated in open combat",
        "villain is defeated in contest",
        "villain looses at cards",
        "villain is killed without a preliminary fight",

                         "summary":"the initial misfortune is liquidated", 
        "the object of a search is seized",
        "the object of a search is obtained by various characters at once",
        "the object of a search is obtained through enticements",
        "the object of a search is obtained as a result of the preceding actions",
        "the object of a search is obtained as a result of combat",
         "the object of a search is obtained as a result of use of magic agents",
         "the object of a search is caught",
         "the spell on a person is broken",
         "a captive is freed",


foltktale_functions['pursuit, chase']={"number":21, 
                         "summary":"the hero is pursued attempts to kill/hurt the hero ", 

                         "summary":"rescue of the hero from pursuit", 

foltktale_functions['unrecognized arrival']={"number":23, 
                         "summary":"the hero, unrecognized, arrives home or to another country", 

foltktale_functions['unfounded claims']={"number":24, 
                         "summary":"a false hero presents unfounded claims. If home the claims are presented by his brothers.", 

foltktale_functions['difficult task']={"number":25, 
                         "summary":"a difficult task is proposed to the hero (Tales' favorite element). The tasks are extremely varied", 
                         "summary":"the task is resolved (Solution depends on the task)", 

                         "summary":"the hero is recognized. He is recognized by a mark or a object given, by family or others", 

                         "summary":"false hero or villain is exposed. (sometimes all the events are recounted from beginning in the form of a tale. The villain is among the listeners and gives himself away by his expressions of dissaproval", 

                         "summary":"the hero is given a anew appearance", 
        "hero builds a palace",
        "hero puts on garments",

                         "summary":"villain is punished", 

                         "summary":"hero marries and ascents to the throne",