Morphology of the Folktale
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Morphology of the Folktale is a book on narratology by Russian Formalist Vladimir Propp published in Russian in 1928. Although it represented a breakthrough in both folkloristics and morphology and influenced Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes, it was generally unnoticed in the West until it was translated in the 1950s.
Propp argued that all fairy tales were constructed of certain plot elements, or "functions," and that these elements occurred in a standard, consistent sequence. He undertook a detailed study of a hundred Russian folk tales from which he derived thirty-one generic functions, such as "a difficult task is proposed" or "donor tests the hero" or "a magical agent is directly transferred."
Propp's character types are used in media education and can be applied to almost any film, television programme and story.