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Propp's 31 Narratemes

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Propp's 31 Narratemes

1st Sphere: Introduction | 2nd Sphere: The Body of the story | 3rd Sphere: The Donor Sequence | 4th Sphere: The Hero’s return | See also

 

Russian Vladimir Propp (1895-1970) analyzed many of his country's folk tales and identified common themes within them. He broke down the stories into morphemes (analyzable chunks) and identified 31 elements or narratemes (narrative units) that comprised the structure of many of the stories.

He gave each element a symbol, thus allowing a story to be described by a sequence of those symbols, such as αβh1CToBh2IJK.

Whilst not all stories will contain all of Propp's narratemes, it is surprising to find stories that contain none, and many modern books and movies fit nicely into his categories.

1st Sphere: Introduction

Steps 1 to 7 introduces the situation and most of the main characters, setting the scene for subsequent adventure.

2nd Sphere: The Body of the story

The main story starts here and extends to the departure of the hero on the main quest.

3rd Sphere: The Donor Sequence

In the third sphere, the hero goes in search of a method by which the solution may be reached, gaining the magical agent from the Donor. Note that this in itself may be a complete story.

4th Sphere: The Hero’s return

In the final (and often optional) phase of the storyline, the hero returns home, hopefully uneventfully and to a hero's welcome, although this may not always be the case.

See also

Propp, V. (1927). Morphology of the Folktale. Trans., Laurence Scott. 2nd ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968

http://www.stonedragonpress.com/wicca_201/vladimir_propp/oral_tradition_00_a.html

 

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