From Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. 1927. Trans., Laurence Scott. 2nd ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968.

The Functions of the Dramatis Personae
(in a true oral folk tale)


1. The functions of characters serve as stable, constant elements in a tale, independent of how and by whom they are fulfilled.

2. The number of functions known to the fairy tale is limited.

3. The sequence of functions is always identical.

4. All fairy tales are of one type in regard to their structure.


After the initial situation (a) (e.g., "Once upon a time, long long ago and in a far off land"), there follow in true oral folktales thirty-one more possible "functions."
ß = absentation
g = interdiction
d = violation
e = reconnaissance
z = delivery
h = trickery
J = complicity
A = villainy/lack
B = mediation
C = beginning counteraction
= departure
D = first function of the donor (testing or interrogation)*
E = the hero's reaction
F = provision or receipt of a magical agent
G = spatial transference between two kingdoms, guidance
H = struggle
J = branding, marking (of the hero)
I = victory
K = initial villainy or lack liquidated (a pair with A)
= return
Pr = pursuit, chase
Rs = rescue (of the hero from pursuit)
O = unrecognized arrival
L = unfounded claims
M = difficult task
N = solution
Q = recognition
Ex = exposure
T = transfiguration
U = punishment
W = wedding
* Some functions occur, when they occur, in necessary pairs, e.g., and; some functions may be freely trebled, e.g., D.