(5/25/05 2:37 am)
just had a few questions about Propp's theory, maybe someone could help me.
I am studying four fairy tales at the moment and looking to see if they follow Propp's theory. Not all of the functions present do follow the theory but there are some, however the don't follow sequentially which Propp stresses is so necessary.
Re Propp's No. 1 function : The hero is introduced after a family member leaves home, in this particular story, An Cailin Rua (The red-haired girl), the youngest son who leaves to fulfill a task actually does very little. He meets extraordinary helpers along the way, one can hear grass grow, one can shoot very well etc. It is they who are pursued, they are the ones to go to the other world to retrieve object and only at the very end does the youngest son jump in and out of a pot of boiling tar ,barefoot, and has won the princess.
Who is the hero in that story, the helpers seem to engage in heroic tasks?
Re Propp's No. 17 : The hero is branded and
No. 27 : Hero is recognized (by brand/mark/something given to him)
In another story 'Jack agus an Fear beag rua' (Jack and the little red-haired man) Three brothers are sent to find the golden bird that is stealing apples from their father's (the king)apple tree. The successful one will receive money and take charge of his kingdom.
Jack, the youngest, is successful and as before her leaves the King of Gold's palace in the other world lies beside the princess. Jack's brothers steal the bird from him and pretend to their father that they retrieved it and that Jack had never even looked for the bird. Jack is banished by his father. One day a princess arrives at the king's palace carrying a child. She is looking for the father of her child, the son who came to her father's palace in the other world to look for the golden bird. One of Jack's brothers pretend they were there. When 'false hero presents unfounded claims' (No.24) Jack is sent for, the princess recognizes him immediately and says that he is the father of her child.
Could the child be considered in these to functions No.17 and No.27. The child is how Jack was branded???
Sorry the questions were so long, if someone could help me that would be great.
(5/25/05 7:49 am)
Re: Propp's functions|
Here's a short answer (my long answer is contained in my 700+ page dissertation :-) ).
The strength of Propp's analysis, and at the same time the problem in applying it more widely, stems from the fact that it's based on samples from a single ethnogeneric category--Russian wonder tales (and all from a single collector, Afanasyev [sp?]). There's a tendency, I think, in folklore studies to view "fairytales" from all kinds of geographic and ethnic sources as all the same genre, and this is true if you're using the term "genre" analytically (see Bascom and Ben-Amos on this subject) or assume universal archetypal structures. But as with dialects of a language, or languages in the same language family, or languages from different families spoken in contiguous areas, there are all kinds of small and large differences in local folk traditions. You can't reasonably take, say, the grammar of Russian verbs of motion, apply it to Portuguese, and expect to get a very coherent result.
I'm of the view that Propp's notion of dramatic function is a useful one, but his particular function sequence simply won't apply well outside of the particular ethnic genre he extracted it from.
You don't say what the source is of the tales you're using, but if they're retold or literary versions they're already not folk traditions and moving out of the realm of this kind of analysis. If you do want to do something with Propp, I'd suggest (depending on how much time and energy you have for the project) one of the following. Take four *Russian* wonder tales from another collection not Afanasyev's (and make sure they are indeed collected from folk tradition). OR: take, say, 20 fairytales from another local tradition (but also, here, consider sources and collection methods), and see if you can find the function sequence(s) of that particular tradition.
(5/25/05 8:21 am)
Re: Propp's functions|
Thanks for replying so quickly. I actually would really like to look or hear more about your dissertation.
The stories I have are from Cumann Béaloideas Éireann (The Department of Irish Folklore). In 1935 collectors were employed by CBÉ to gather folklore from Irish speaking areas of Ireland. There were thousands of pages worth of stories collected from the Irish speaking area where I live in Co. Donegal. No work has ever been done on the stories. In the intro to Propp’s morphology book, Dundes mentions that Propp limits his analysis to only one kind of folktale, fairy tales or AT Tale Types 300-749.
This is what got me interested as the stories I have are within types 300-749.
I’m somewhat of an amateur, I must admit. Although I have summarised the stories I have and found their functions and compared them with Propp’s, the most noticeable difference being that the functions in my stories are not sequential. I’m just trying to decide if I have something to work from there.