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Narrative Theory - Applying Vladimir Propp's character theor

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Isobel Hedger

on 8 October 2014

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Transcript of Narrative Theory - Applying Vladimir Propp's character theor

Vladimir Propp says that characters take up the role of narrative 'spheres of action '. He identified 7 different characters necessary to make up a narrative...
The villain
The villain is the character that creates a disruption in the narrative equilibrium causing the hero to have to restore things.
The Donor
The Donor gives the hero something to aid them on their journey to restore disruption and disequilibrium, this can be physical (like a weapon) or not (like magic).
The Hunger Games
In The Hunger Games the donor (Haymitch) provides Katniss with physical things to help her, this is emphasized in the film which we find interesting because it highlights the importance of his character.
The Helper
The Helper aids the hero on their journey to restore equilibrium, they are normally the sidekick and sometimes add comedic or romantic additions to the narrative.
The Hero
The Hero restores to narrative equilibrium and is the central character in the media text.
There are 2 different types of hero:
The Victim Hero- the centre of the villains attention
The Seeker Hero- aids the villains victims.
Narrative theory
Applying Vladimir Propp's character theory The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
In The Hunger Games Katniss acts as both the seeker hero and the victim hero. She starts a revolution in order to aid the victims of the villain of the films but because of this she is also the victim hero, being targeted by the villain.
The Hunger Games
President Snow acts as the villain in the Hunger Games trilogy however along with himself, there is the whole 'government' of characters in the films who also act as villains in the narrative.
The Hunger Games
Peter acts as the helper in the hunger games, joining Katniss throughout the games and aiding her to victory, he also adds a romantic sub-plot.
The Princess
The princess, normally female, is normally the prime victim of the villain and has to be saved at the climax of the film. This creates damsel in distress situations seen in many narratives.
The Hunger Games
The hunger games slightly subverts this character role. The princess of the film could be seen to be Katniss' sister whom she saves by taking her place in the Hunger Games. This however, does not happen at the climax of the film, suggesting Katniss herself could be the princess as she has to save herself near the end of the film.
The Dispatcher
The dispatcher send the hero on their task/journey to restore the equilibrium. Therefore they tend to be the wise voice of reason in the narrative.
The Hunger Games
This is another character that The Hunger Games somewhat subverts. There can be many dispatchers in the film for example President Snow who works the hunger games, there can also be district 13, who started a rebellion, causing the hunger games to be started or Katniss' sister who Katniss saved therefore having to take part in the hunger games. Therefore there is not one clear dispatcher causing slight confusion in the audience.
The False Hero
The false hero is a character that appears to be good throughout the film however is revealed at the end of the film to be bad.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games also subverts this character. There are no real false heroes in the hunger games however there are many false villains. People living in the capitol who disagree with the games all act as false villains in particular Katniss' stylist, Cinna who demonstrates defiance against the Capitol throughout the film.
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