Sunday, 10 October 2010

Vladimir Propp's Narrative theory.

Vladimir Propp was an early 1900s Russian scholar. Having a socialist political system somehow lead Soviet Russia to become very theatre and media centred, and so was Propp.

One of Propp's most widely known conceptions and theories was his Narrative theory (Aka Proppean narrative) which suggests that in every plot, each character is assigned a specific task or function. This is somewhat simplistic compared with Tzvetan Todorov's narrative theory (Theory of equilibrium) which suggests that plots are started where there is a stable equilibrium, which is disturbed and must be returned in the end.

Anyway, Propp's theory can vary between each case, but generally, there is the following:

  1. The hero (Who seeks something, often to destroy the villian).
  2. The villain (Opposes the hero).
  3. The donor (A calm good-doer. Helps the hero by providing a magic object).
  4. The dispatcher (A wise character who sends the hero on his way).
  5. The false hero (Falsely assuming the role of hero).
  6. The helper (Gives support to the hero).
  7. The princess (The reward for the hero but also needs to be protected from the villain.
  8. The princess's father
This is just a general formulae. Nowadays, plots tend to vary via adding/removing characters. E.g. Female hero. No reward. 2 donors. Multiple villains...etc

n.b. Most comic book plots are based on Proppean narratives. Refer to Batman as a simple example.

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