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Narrative

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Thus the genre of fairy tales will somehow always be classic and also modern. Russian scholar Vladimir Propp (1895-1970) in his Morphology of the Folktale (published in Russian in 1928), came up with an influential study in structuralist narratology. He analysed a number of folk tales from his country and was able to identify common themes within them. Propp broke down the folk tales into morphemes (into sections that can be analysed) and he was able to identify 31 narratemes (narrative functions) that made up the structure of the stories. In addition to the 31 narrative functions identified by Propp, he also identified 7 basic character types (known as ‘dramatic/dramatis personae’) who undertake these functions (Simpson, 2004). The dramatic/dramatis personae can be summed up as the following: 1 The Hero (may also be the victim sometimes). 2 The Dispatcher – the character who sends the protagonist on his/her quest. 3 The Helper — the character who helps the protagonist on his/her journey. 4 The Villain 5 The donor — the character who gives the hero some magical item to aid him in his/her quest. 6 The princess – the character the protagonist marries or saves 7 False hero — the character who tries to discredit the hero (in classical tales, tries to marry the princess) (Vladimir Propp, Levi-Strauss.n.d.). Basically Propp’s theory seeks to define a tale into a series of sequences that usually occurred within Russian fairy tale. His theory defined not only the construction of a tale. instead it defined the tale as a whole. As stated by Scholes (1974), Myths, folktales, and fairytales are the prototypes of all narrative. Albeit modern narratives have developed and transformed the older fictional forms sometimes beyond recognition, their semblances to their older sources are still recognizable. Since the old stories have laid out the foundation for contemporary pieces, Propp’s analysis is definitely useful not only in understanding the underlying structures of Russian folk tales but of any other type of ‘tale’ as a whole. It is wise however to note that not all stories will contain Propp’s identified categories or if they do, the categories will need distortion or reorganization of sequence in order to fit into modern narratives (Simpson, 2004). For Propp, a character’s function is key element for every ‘tale’. He does not give importance to ‘who’ does a function or ‘how’ it is done. rather it is ‘what’ the characters do that is more important (Simpson, 2004). According to Propp, a story usually starts with an initial situation. Here the characters are often times introduced (named) and their roles are usually distributed (Koksharova, 2004). The initial situation is then followed by some or all of the 31 narrative functions that make up the body of the story. The first function is identified as Absentation. This function is characterized by the hero leaving his/her secure environment. Sometimes it is someone close to the protagonist who goes missing, later on to be rescued by the hero. Next follows Interdiction where the hero is advised against certain actions. However the protagonist ignores the warning and goes ahead with his/her plans. This function is known as Violation of Interdiction. The fifth function is known as Reconnaissance, this is the part where the villain tries to make