Vladimir Propp's 31 Functions of a Fairytale.  

  1st Sphere: The introductory sequence 1 Member of family absents self from home/ hero is introduced

2 Interdiction announced: (don’t do X)

3 Interdiction violated: (hero does X anyway)

4 Villain tries to meet hero: (reconnaisance of hero)

5 Villain receives information about hero

6 Villain attempts to deceive hero with trickery:

7 Hero is deceived: (complicity in becoming victim/ helps villain)

  2nd Sphere: The Body of the story 8 Villain causes harm, carries away a victim, the hero or the desired magical object, which must be retrieved

8a Member of hero’s family lacks or desires something (the magical object) – EITHER OF THESE BECOMES “THE LACK”

9 Hero discovers the lack

10 Hero decides on counteraction

11 Hero leaves home

  3rd Sphere: The Donor Sequence (magic agent is obtained) 12 Hero tested and/ or questioned: prepares for magical agent

13 Hero responds to test of donor

14 Hero gets magical agent/ object which will help with quest

15 Location shifts to the place where “the lack” is to be found

16 Hero and villain in direct combat

17 Hero is branded

18 Villain defeated: I

19 Initial lack liquidated: the object of the quest is obtained by the hero (the tale often ends here, but can continue into the fourth sphere of action)

  4th Sphere: The Hero’s return 20 Hero sets out for home

21 Hero is pursued

22 Rescue of hero from pursuit: (tale sometimes ends here)

23 Unrecognized, hero arrives home or in other country

24 False hero claims success of true hero

25 Difficult task is set

26 Task resolved by true hero

27 True hero recognized

28 False hero exposed

29 Hero given new appearance/ transfiguration

30 Villain is punished

31 Hero marries and ascends throne

Propp's Dramatis Personae

1. villain
2. Donor or provider
3. helper
4. princess [a sought for person] and her father
5. dispatcher
6. hero
7. false hero