Storytelling, Myths, And Folk Tales in Propp’s Morphology, Ageless Wisdom & The Hero’s Journey, And Annette Simmons The Story Factor   Leave a comment

According to Propp, “Five categories of elements define not only the construction of a tale, but the tale as a whole.” Propp’s Narratemes are based on Russian folk tales and the stories that are passed down. How does Propp approach folk tales? Propp’s theory does not incorporate emotion or mood that is in a story, but just skims the surface superficially. Research focused on the form that a story takes and the similar experiences shared in each story. The five key elements of a story can be seen as in an arc within a story itself.  The first discusses the initial situation revealing the function of the characters such as a protagonist, a setting and plot, what makes up the story? The second explores conflict to solve or as Propp commented, “…announcement of misfortune.” Motivation follows beginning with a need or desire to overcome the impossible.  It is here that a tale explains why characters act the way they do. The fourth is what Propp’s called, “Forms of appearance of dramatis personae” or the types and overall presence of characters incorporated in each tale. And last, Propp’s reported, “Attributive elements or accessories” or the recurring of items with symbolic meanings tying the story together. These elements are seen in most stories although, not all tales are clear regarding the definition of characters, who is the villain and who is the hero. The story structure described by Propp is considered a formalized linear sequence of causality, an event happens because of an occurrence takes place in a chronological order. Can you think of a tale that incorporates Propp morphology? I just thought of the tale that utilized these elements, “Beauty and the Beast.”  Do you agree?

            The key elements of story in “Ageless Wisdom” are incorporated in the twelve steps of the Hero’s Journey as outlined by Vogler. It is the elements that shape the plot. Vogler’s description of the story plot is based on the main character’s arc of the story and an external journey of the hero. First, the point of view is through a character/ hero who are introduced in the “ordinary world” and in the setting of a time and location. Next is inciting an incident as the plot unfolds which results in a request or need that must be fulfilled called, “The call to adventure.” This is where a hero must leave their comfort zone and enter into a journey into the unknown which creates a difficult decision and at first refuses the quest displaying fear and doubt, but being guided and inspired by a mentor helps persuade the hero to continue. Is a mentor necessary for a story to be successful? Can a symbolic item take the place of a mentor based on a hero’s belief system? As the hero begins the journey conflict arises creating a crisis resulting in a commitment of the hero. The hero’s obstacles consist of tests and confronting enemies. In the end, the hero has resolution and travels back to the ordinary world stronger than before and is transformed to benefit the world. This is where suspense is shown in a story. When a character is resurrected it is the climax of the story as they change becoming an important element to a story. The story structure is based on plot points changing to describe an internal journey as well as an external adventure for a character.

            “The Story Factor” utilizes many key elements of story for example, characters protagonist/antagonist, point of view, emotional content, body language, setting, plot, themes or messages, conflict, resolution, causality, foreshadowing, suspense, conflict, background information, clarity, maybe humor, crisis, and resolution. A story is also about connecting through our senses as Simmons reported, “Since your goal is to help them experience, the use of smells and tastes help draw your listener’s bodies into experiencing your story at a visceral level” (95).Without these elements in story, where would the power of the human connection be to inspire and persuade others? The story structure is flexible as everyone has a story to tell. If anyone of these elements fails, the connection with the audience risks being lost. There is always a chance of giving too much or too little, but a balance can be found when a story is told right.

hand_rightWorks Cited

Ageless Wisdom & The Hero’s Journey in Story and Myth.<;.

Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale. 2012.<;.

Simmons, Annette. The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling. Cambridge: Basic Books, 2006.



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