Home

While Propp’s “morphological” analysis of myths may be interesting in itself, but somehow I fail to grasp its overall significance.  That folktales may follow a simple story line (A___W) or have multiple layers (as outlined on p. 566) does not  reveal, at least to me, anything new.  What Propp does, by picking out and identifying each possible element of a folktale, only shows the potential scenarios  that can develop, and those which are unlikely (because they are illogical).  But in of itself, does this type of analysis reveal anything about the civilizations from which these folktales come, or the purpose of these tales in the first place; this may not have been Propp’s intention anyway.  From what I can tell, as the title clearly indicates, his interest is in the actual structure of a tale, and this is where I have to ask “What’s the point?”

If we compare morphological structures within one language, or compare these structures between two or more languages, I can understand the purpose.  These comparisons demonstrate the linguistic peculiarities and differences that have developed over time and reveal the variation (not just the hows, but the whys) that mark each culture and subculture within society.  This, to me, has a purpose.  Propp’s theory, like I said above, might be interesting in itself, but  what is it that I’m missing?

Could it be that certain elements are interchangeable, allowing for multiple versions to be created?  Morphologically speaking, the fairy god-mother in Cinderella, as a donor, could have been replaced with anyone who would fit the mould, as outlined on p. 561. By tweaking the “formula”, we can have a different story line (plot and sub-plots),  but people do this all the time without really using any particular “formula”.  What Propp has done, to his credit, is really dissect folktales.  But again, to what purpose?  Or does there even have to be a purpose?

C.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Propp’s “Morphology of the Folktale”

  1. Pingback: Morphology | Jw McCabe

Comments are closed.