Palgrave Macmillan

The Fairytale And Plot Structure

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From the time of the Classical era of Greece and Rome, literary theorists have been concerned with the subject of how the plots of stories are organized. In The Poetics, Aristotle put forward the crucial idea that a plot must possess sufficient amplitude to allow a probable or necessary succession of particular actions to produce a significant change in the fortune of the main character. In the early twentieth century, the Russian scholar Vladimir Propp put forward the radical idea that each of the plots in his corpus of a hundred Russian fairy tales consisted of a sequence of 31 functions executed in an identical order. In this way, Propp had provided a workable solution to the mystery of how that 'significant change in the fortune of the main character' might be brought about. In effect, what Propp had done was to discover the first plot genotype, the functional structure or compositional schema of a particular short fiction, the Marriage fairy tale. But Propp was mistaken in his belief that all plots were the same. Although the exact number of plot genotypes is still unclear, this number is not excessively great. Plot genotypes fall into set categories, which means that the analysis of a few important fairy tales will shed light on the way in which most fairy tales - and by extension most short stories and dramatic texts and Hollywood screenplays - are also organized. This study explores the plots of ten fairy tales to lay the foundations for a complete description of the plot genotype.
  • Publish Date: 2015-08-25
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Terence Patrick Murphy

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