Legend vs Propp’s Functions of Folktales

While I have not deliberately attempted to follow Propp’s Functions of Folktales as a pattern, nevertheless Legend does fit it very well (but not perfectly).

Russian formalist Vladimir Propp described (somewhat abstractly) a set of recurring plot devices that he found in a certain genre of Russian folk tales. He did this in a book called “Morphology of the Folk Tale”. The list (below) that I am about to compare Legend to comes from TVTropes (warning this is TV Tropes and it will suck hours away from you).

Propp’s Functions of Folktales covered so far

0: The Initial Situation

Obviously, this one is a match. The initial situation is explained, briefly in the first chapter. As I was going for a folklore style of story, that’s about the last you can expect to hear of it. You can expect that but you would be not entirely correct.

1: The Absentations

This is where someone leaves or dies. Usually a parent. Literally, in our case, this is both parents and both siblings. That’s because the “big bad” has kidnapped them. Setting the story in motion.

So far, we are still on the first page.

2: The Interdiction

A big rule is set up. Don’t touch the spinning wheel. You can’t go to the ball. You know the drill.

That does not happen for a while. I seem to have deviated from the pattern. Or have I?

The big rule of “don’t swallow the hope stone” happens in the third chapter. However, there is another “big rule” which you might have missed.

The bigger “big rule” is that Malial cannot attack the Lord without help. Does that mean that this is a rule that will be broken? Is this the interdiction for the pattern?

I’m not going to tell you.

3: Violation

At this stage, someone breaks the big rule. For us, this happens in chapter 4.

So far, so good. I have followed Propp’s pattern without even thinking about it.

4: Reconnaissance

TV Tropes says that this is where the villain spies on the hero or the hero learns about the villain. Hmm… not so much. Well, a case could be made for Chapter 7, but as I’ve not released that yet, only I know for sure.

However, this took place, for Malial, in Chapter 2. As I said, Legend is not a perfect fit for Propp’spattern. But, I think, it is pretty close.

5: Delivery

The searching party discovers information.

Legend is, in case you have not worked it out yet, a big daisy chain of such moments. I’ll leave it up to you to debate about which moment best fits this part of Propp’s functions.

6: Trickery

This is the point where the big bad villain tricks the poor hero. For you, this is still to come. For me, well, spoilers… Let us just say that this is a match too.

7: Complicity

The protagonist is forced, tricked or influenced into doing something bad for which there are some very “not-at-all good” consequences. Mwa-ha-ha… I know what’s going to happen next. I wonder if you can figure out what that is.

The rest of Propp’s Functions of Folktales

There are still plenty of stages to work through and plenty of story left to go. Will Legend follow Propp’s pattern all the way? You can only guess. I know the answer (to some extent). I can promise you that I am not going to make any particular effort to force the story to fit.

For Legend, some notable pit stops will be number twelve – “First function of donor”. That’s quite important. Finally, we end with number thirty-one – “The Wedding” which is not the match that you were thinking of. There will be a literal wedding. Try and guess who gets married. Give it your best shot because I am curious to see where you think this story is going.

Use the comments to let me know how you think things fot or will fit.

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