Vladimir Propp's 31 Functions Of Dramastic Personae

1705 words - 7 pages

Vladimir Propp extended the Russian Formalist approach to the study of narrative structure. In the Formalist approach, sentence structures were broken down into analyzable elements, or morphemes, and Propp used this method by analogy to analyze Russian fairy tales. By breaking down a large number of Russian folk tales into their smallest narrative units, or narratemes, Propp was able to arrive at a typology of narrative structures

After the initial situation is depicted, the tale takes the following sequence of 31 functions:
1. ABSENTATION: A member of a family leaves the security of the home environment for some reason. This may be the hero or perhaps it’s some other ...view middle of the document...

4. RECONNAISSANCE: The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim questions the villain). The villain (often in disguise) makes an active attempt at seeking information, for example searching for something valuable or trying to actively capture someone. They may speak with a member of the family who innocently divulges information. They may also seek to meet the hero, perhaps knowing already the hero is special in some way. The introduction of the villain adds early tension to the story, particularly when they are found close to the previously-supposedly safe family or community environment. The eloquence or power of the villain may also add tension and we may want to shout at their targets to take care.
5. DELIVERY: The villain gains information about the victim. The villain's seeking now pays off and he or she now acquires some form of information, often about the hero or victim. Other information can be gained, for example about a map or treasure location or the intent of the 'good guys'. This is a down point in the story as the pendulum of luck swings towards the villain, creating fear and anticipation that the villain will overcome the hero and the story will end in tragedy.
6. TRICKERY: The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim). The villain now presses further, often using the information gained in seeking to deceive the hero or victim in some way, perhaps appearing in disguise. This may include capture of the victim, getting the hero to give the villain something or persuading them that the villain is actually a friend and thereby gaining collaboration. Deception and the betrayal of trust is one of the worst social crimes, short of physical abuse. This action cements the position of the villain as clearly bad. It also raises the tension further as we fear for the hero or victim who is being deceived.
7. COMPLICITY: Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy. The trickery of the villain now works and the hero or victim naively acts in a way that helps the villain in some way. This may range from providing the villain with something (perhaps a map or magical weapon) to actively working against good people (perhaps the villain has persuaded the hero that these other people are actually bad). We now despair as the hero or victim acts in a way that may be seen as villainous. Perhaps we worry that the hero will fall permanently into the thrall of the villain. Perhaps they will become corrupted and evil also. We also fear for the reputation of the hero who may be perceived as evil and thus never find the true treasure or win the hand of the princess.
8. VILLAINY and LACK: Villain causes harm/injury to family member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone,...

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