The Thirty-One Functions in Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale: An Outline and Recent Trends in the Applicability of the Proppian Taxonomic Model

Sapna Dogra

Ph.D (Jawaharlal Nehru University). ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2397-1582. Email:

 Volume 9, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n2.41


Vladimir Propp (1895–1970) was a Russian folklorist who analysed the basic plot components of selected Russian fairy tales in order to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements. His Morphology of the Folktale was published in Russian in 1928. It was only after thirty-years that most European and American scholars read it in English translation in 1958. It not only represented a breakthrough in both folkloristics and morphology by influencing folklorists, linguists, anthropologists, and literary critics, but also his analysis was applied to all types of narratives be it folklore, literature, film, television series, theatre, games, mimes, cartoon strips, advertisements, dance forms, sports commentaries, film theory, news reports, story generation and interactive drama systems etc. Many attempts at structural analyses of various folklore genres have been made throughout the world since its appearance in English translation. In this paper we look at Morphology of the Folktale, by outlining the thirty-one functions that he proposed for the structural analysis of folktales and recent trends in the applicability of Proppian taxonomic model. It is also emphasised that Propp’s taxonomic model disregards and excludes the reader and is unable to look beyond the surface structure thereby missing upon essential historical and contextual features.

Keywords: Folktales, functions, designation, symbol, morphology, fairy tales, folkloristics, structuralism.

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