Propp’s Character types

taken from Virtual Insanity:

Vladimir Propp extended the Russian Formalist approach to the study of narrative structure. In the Formalist approach sentence structures were broken down into analysable elements. Propp used this method to analyse Russian fairy tales by breaking down a large number of Russian folk tales into their smallest narrative units.

Vladimir Propp’s theory recognises that there are 8 character types. These character types were:

  1. The hero who is on the quest
  2. The villian who oppposes the hero
  3. The donor who helps the hero by giving them a tool
  4. The dispatcher who starts the hero on his way
  5. The flase hero who tempts the hero away from his quest
  6. The helper  who helps the hero
  7. The princess who is the reward for the hero
  8. Her father who rewards the hero for his efforts

Propp found this when studying folk tales and legends from different countries.He noticed that they were all quite similar and that they seemed to be about the same basic problem and the same types of character kept cropping up and so he focused on the way these characters seemes to be ‘types’ rather than individuals.

Applying Propp’s theory to a real music video:

Enrique Iglesias – Hero 

In this music video Enrique Iglesias plays the role of the hero who is on the quest and is protecting the women. The women in this video is the victim and also the reward for the hero. The hero is protecting her against the villian who is the man in the black suit and sunglasses along with the other men who are all wearing black.

Propps Character Theory on Wikipedia



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