31 functions in Morphology of the Folktale by Vladimir Propp

31 distinct narrative functions- morphology of folktales
31 functions in Morphology of the Folktale by Vladimir Propp 2

Vladimir Propp (1895-1970)

  • Studied Russian and German philology
  • Studied the theory and history of Russian
  • Morphology of the Folktale (1928, Eng. Trans.
  • Folktales are structurally identical from the
    point-of-view of composition
  • What is important
    – Not the identities of characters
    – But the functions (actions) they perform

Vladimir Propp (1895-1970) was a Russian folklorist and scholar known for his groundbreaking work in the field of structural analysis of folktales. He studied Russian and German philology and devoted his research to the theory and history of Russian folklore.

Propp’s most influential work is “Morphology of the Folktale,” originally published in 1928 and later translated into English in 1958. In this book, Propp analyzed a large corpus of Russian folktales and proposed a structural approach to understanding their narrative patterns and elements.

Propp argued that despite the vast diversity of folktales, they all share a common underlying structure or morphology. He identified 31 distinct narrative functions or actions that characters perform within folktales, such as the villain’s harm, the hero’s journey, the rescue, the pursuit, and the recognition of characters. According to Propp, these functions are present in all folktales, albeit not necessarily in the same order.

Propp’s approach to folklore analysis shifted the focus from the specific identities of characters to the functions they perform within the narrative. He argued that these narrative functions are the fundamental building blocks of folktales and that their arrangement and interplay give rise to the variety of tales found across different cultures.

Propp’s work was influential in the development of structuralism and narratology. His emphasis on the underlying structure of narratives and the identification of recurring narrative functions influenced subsequent scholars and theorists, including Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, and narratologists such as Gerard Genette and Tzvetan Todorov.

Russian Formalism- important key concepts

Propp’s work continues to be a valuable resource for scholars studying folklore, narrative theory, and the analysis of story structures. His methodology provides a framework for understanding the deep structural patterns and functions that drive the narratives found in folktales from various cultures around the world.

Morphology of the Folktale (1928, Eng. Trans. 1958)

Morphology of the Folktale” is a seminal work by Russian folklorist Vladimir Propp. Originally published in 1928 in Russian, it was later translated into English in 1958. The book presents Propp’s groundbreaking structural analysis of Russian folktales, offering a comprehensive framework for understanding their narrative patterns and elements.

In “Morphology of the Folktale,” Propp examined a large collection of Russian folktales and sought to identify the underlying structure that unifies them. He argued that despite their surface-level differences, folktales adhere to a common set of narrative functions or actions performed by characters.

Propp identified 31 narrative functions, which he viewed as the basic units of the folktale structure. These functions include elements such as the villain’s harm, the hero’s journey, the donor’s assistance, the hero’s reaction, the pursuit, the struggle, and the wedding, among others. Propp analyzed the ways in which these functions are combined and sequenced to form different narrative patterns.

One of Propp’s key contributions was the notion that these narrative functions are not tied to specific characters or personalities. Instead, they are independent and can be performed by different characters within the story. Propp argued that characters in folktales are essentially “role fillers” who undertake the necessary functions to drive the plot forward.

Propp’s work established a structuralist approach to the analysis of folklore, shifting the focus from the content and variations of specific tales to the underlying narrative structure shared by folktales. His identification of the core functions and their potential permutations laid the foundation for subsequent studies in folklore, narratology, and literary theory.

Morphology of the Folktale” has been highly influential in the fields of folklore studies and narrative theory. It continues to be widely referenced and studied, providing a comprehensive framework for understanding the universal structure of folk narratives and the recurring patterns that shape storytelling traditions.

Morphology of the Folktale – 31 functions of vladimir propp

In “Morphology of the Folktale,” Vladimir Propp identified 31 narrative functions that he considered to be the basic building blocks of Russian folktales. These functions represent the actions or events that characters perform within the narrative. Here is a list of the 31 functions as outlined by Propp:

  1. Absentation: The villain or a member of the family leaves the home.
  2. Interdiction: A prohibition is imposed on the hero.
  3. Violation: The interdiction is violated.
  4. Reconnaissance: The villain attempts to obtain information.
  5. Delivery: The villain gains information or an object.
  6. Trickery: The villain deceives the hero to gain an advantage.
  7. Complicity: The hero is deceived or aided by a false character.
  8. Villainy: The villain causes harm or injury to a family member.
  9. Mediation: A helper or mentor assists the hero.
  10. Beginning counter-action: The hero reacts to the villain’s actions.
  11. Departure: The hero leaves home.
  12. First function of the donor: The hero receives a magical agent or helper.
  13. Hero’s reaction: The hero uses the magical agent or helper.
  14. Receipt of a new function: The hero acquires a new status or role.
  15. Guidance: The hero receives guidance or instructions.
  16. Struggle: The hero and villain engage in direct conflict.
  17. Branding: The hero is marked or identified.
  18. Victory: The hero defeats the villain.
  19. Liquidation: The villain is punished or defeated.
  20. Return: The hero heads back home.
  21. Pursuit: The villain chases the hero.
  22. Rescue: The hero is saved from pursuit or danger.
  23. Arrival: The hero arrives unrecognized.
  24. Claim: The hero’s identity is revealed.
  25. Task: The hero is given a difficult task.
  26. Solution: The task is accomplished or resolved.
  27. Recognition: The hero is recognized or acknowledged.
  28. Exposure: The villain’s identity or deception is exposed.
  29. Transfiguration: The hero undergoes a transformation.
  30. Punishment: The villain receives punishment or consequences.
  31. Wedding: The hero marries and is rewarded.

These functions represent the structural components of folktales according to Propp’s analysis. They can be combined and rearranged in various ways, allowing for the creation of different narrative variations while still adhering to the fundamental narrative structure.

Morphology of the Folktale book free download


other sources: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/414789.Morphology_of_the_Folktale

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