Tag Archives: narrative structures

Research: Vladimir Propp’s

Propp’s work may not have a solid correlation to my own work, as his theories are situated around Media rather than Photography. However I thought it would be interesting to research his theories to gain a better understanding of Narrative theories and broaden my knowledge.

Vladimir Propp’s was a Russian scholar who theorised Narrative plots. His concepts are still relevant in a lot of movies nowadays.

The first area that I will be looking at are Character Theories:

  • The Hero: The hero drives the story and is the one that the plot revolves around, as well as the one who finds the solution to the problem.
  • The Villain: The Villain is the one that opposes the hero. The negative force in contrast to the hero’s positive force.
  • The Donor: The Donor gives the hero something which helps the hero drive forward
  • The Dispatcher: The Dispatcher is the one that sends the hero on their journey
  • The False Hero: The False Hero is the one that falsely assumes the role of the hero, which throws the reader or viewer off course
  • The Helper: The one that supports the hero. They are similar to the Donor, except they are givers of knowledge or power rather than giving the Hero something or someone
  • The Princess: The Princess is the reward for the hero. Generally the Princess is captured or in need of rescuing, protecting, from the Villain.
  • The Father: The Princesses Father

Generally within Narrative the are 6 (main) functions:

  • Preparation
  • Complication
  • Transference
  • Struggle
  • Return
  • Recognition

However Propp’s reduced all Narratives and found that there are 31 separate sequence of events (His research came from reading Folk Tales/ Fables):

  • Absentation:  Family member leaves home or the security of the environment. This is generally where the hero is introduced
  • Interdiction:  The hero is warned against their course of action, “Don’t do this”, “Don’t go there”
  • Violation of Interdiction: Interdiction is violated. The Villain, although may not have confronted the hero, is then introduced
  • Reconnaissance:  Villain attempts reconnaissance, seeking information, something valuable, hostage. Someone may divulge information. Villain may wish to meet the hero
  • Delivery: Villain gains the information or what they required
  • Trickery: Villain attempts to trick the hero
  • Complicity: The Hero is deceived by the Villain and unwillingly/ naively helps
  • Villainy or Lack: Villain may cause harm to the hero or family, take something away from the hero that they needed. A good example of this is in Disney Hercules, when Hades takes Hercules Demi- God Powers away, reverting him mortal whilst he is summoning the Titans. 
  • Meditation: The misfortune and lack is known to the hero, dispatched to give aid
  • Beginning Counter- Action: Seeker agrees/ decides upon a counter action. The Hero decides to act in a way that will resolve the lack
  • Departure: Hero leaves home
  • First function of the Donor:  The hero is tester, interrogated, attack and so on. Preparing the way for the Donor
  • Hero Reaction:  Hero reacts to the actions of the future Donor
  • Receipt of a Magical Agent: Hero acquires use of a magical agent
  • Guidance: Hero is led to the whereabouts of an object of search
  • Struggle: Hero and Villain combat
  • Branding:  Hero is wounded or branded (scar or mark)
  • Victory: Villain is defeated or banished
  • Liquidation: Initial misfortune or lack is resolved
  • Return:  The Hero returns
  • Pursuit:  Hero is pursued
  • Rescue: Hero rescued from pursuer
  • Unrecognised Arrival: Hero returns home or Another country unrecognised
  • Unfounded Claims:  False hero presents unfounded claims
  • Difficult task:  Difficult task presented to hero that they must over come
  • Solution: Task overcome
  • Recognition: Hero is recognised, by mark, brand or item
  • Exposure: False hero or Villain exposed
  • Transfiguration: Hero is given new appearance e.g. New garments
  • Punishment:  Villain is punished
  • Wedding: Hero marries, ascends, promotion = Happy Ending

As stated above most of this will not fit in with Photographic Narrative in some circumstances, however I have enjoyed researching about this as I am interested in Narrative sequencing and story telling. So it may not fit everything, but I would like to take aspects from Propp’s theories and try and link them into my own work.

What is Narrative?

In reference to the English Dictionary, Narrative is : 

n.

1. A narrated account; a story.
2. The art, technique, or process of narrating.
adj.

1. Consisting of or characterized by the telling of a story: narrative poetry.
2. Of or relating to narration: narrative skill.
Over the years narrative has been used in many different ways, it is a form of social  communication. From the written word; such as J.R.R Tolkien’s and Charles Dickens books, to the use of “Oral” word; within the News or by hand; hieroglyphics and cave paintings. These are all forms of Narrative, the telling or depiction of a story.
Narrative is also present in Photography. The concept of using photography to tell a story interests me. Like many people I have a creative imagination, that has a tendency to run away with itself, getting lost other worlds. As a child I was raised with fairy tales, such as the Grimm’s, Fables and Mythology and throughout life those wonderful stories have stuck with me.
Below are extracts from my lecture notes …
Narrative Genres:
  • Documentary
  • Fiction
  • Scientific
  • Theoretical
  • Poetic
  • Personal / Dairy

Narrative Structures:

  • Linear
  • Random
  • Open ended / Closed
  • Repetition
  • Flashback

Narrative Strategies:

  • Textual Narrative
  • Text as Image
  • Still Image
  • Tableau
  • Moving Image

Image

I will be referring back to these at a later date for further research into Narrative as well as for my experimentation.