Vladimir Propp’s Characters
In my graphic novel – a modernized version of Rumpelstiltskin I have used the character types:
The Hero – In my story, Mr. Millar’s daughter, Jess/Mrs. King is the hero as she is the one on the quest to
turn paper in to money, giving up her eyesight, happiness and almost first born in the process – she then
valiantly defeats the antagonist for the ‘prize’ of her first born.
The Villain – Rumpelstiltskin is the main antagonist in my story as he is the one who takes the vision,
happiness and almost first born of the hero and when he is defeated, he turns in to a giant ball of rage –
He is also at one point the donor.
Princess/Prize – The prize’s in my story are, the return of Mrs. King’s vision and happiness but most
importantly of all – that she gets to keep her first born child which is the prize that the hero wants the
most and the most sought out thing by the villain.
Donor – Rumpelstiltskin is the main donor due to the fact that he turns all of the paper in to money for
Mrs. King when she needs it most in exchange for her eyesight, happiness and first born. Although at one
point, The Boss/Mr. King is the donor as he gives valuable information to the hero about Rumpelstiltskin.
The Dispatcher – There are two dispatcher’s in my story – The Boss/Mr King who sets the hero on her
original task of turning the paper in to money and Rumpelstiltskin who sets the hero off on the task of
finding out his name.
The Helper – I wouldn’t say that they are exactly a helper, but due to giving the hero valuable information,
the boss/Mr. King would be the helper in this story.
Princess’ Father – Mr. Millar is the character in my story, sending his daughter on the quest to turn the
paper in to money. In a way, the boss is sort of this character as he also sends her on a quest, but then
again so does Rumpelstiltskin.
False Hero – Prince Charming from Shrek is this character. He attempts to take the princess’ hand in
marriage by trying to look better than Shrek, stealing the hero’s role, he seems good but he is actually bad.
Vladimir Propp’s Functions
There are a variety of Propp’s functions in my graphic novel:
Interdiction – At the beginning of the story the Boss/Mr. King warns Mr. Millar that if his daughter
doesn’t have the ability that was promised, he’d lose his job and later on in the story Jess/Mrs. King is
warned that if she doesn’t find out Rumpelstiltskin’s name in the 3 days she has to find it – she loses her
first born to him.
First Function of the Donor – In a way, the hero is asked to show her heroic qualities when she is asked
to find out Rumplestiltskin’s name without any help from him at all.
Complicity – This occurs when Rumpelstiltskin in the scene where Rumpelstiltskin is dancing round a fire
and sings his name out loud and is heard by the Boss/Mr. King (The messenger in the original story) who
reports back to Mrs. King to tell the anecdote of what he saw which gives the hero the right information
for liquidation to occur.
Liquidation – This occurs when the hero (Mrs. King) finds out the name of Rumpelstiltskin as it resolves
the situation that she is currently in, there’s no more worry because she has the answer she has been so
desperately searching for.
Difficult Task – This happens when the hero is given the task of turning paper in to money, it’s not just
difficult, it’s impossible to do. This comes up again when the hero is given the task of finding out
Rumpelstiltskin’s name when she has been given no clues or relevant information to help her.
Hero’s Reaction – When given the task to turn paper in to money, the hero (Mrs. King) is scared and
reluctant to carry out the task and when she is given the task of finding out the villain, Rumpelstiltskin’s
name the hero is relieved that she is given another chance to claim the ‘prize’.
Struggle – In a way, every time the hero guesses the name of the villain, they are effectively battling.
Although there is no fighting or action involved, they are still fighting for the prize – just not physically.
Victory – This occurs when the hero (Mrs. King) finds out the villain’s name and gets to keep her prize
Solution – This is the moment in the story where the hero is given the name of the villain, giving her the
power to win the ‘battle’ and claim her prize.
Wedding – This occurs in the middle of the story, when the hero marries the dispatcher/the donor. It’s
not exactly to ascent to the throne but it counts.
Vladimir Propp’s Functions Continued
There are a variety of propp’s Functions that aren’t in my story but are in others:
Absentation: This function isn’t in my story but it is in Disney’s Hercules when Hercules himself is abducted as a
baby and brought down to Earth and almost transformed in to a human – he goes missing from his cot in Olympus.
Violation of Interdiction: In the first Spiderman, Peter Parker and his class are warned not to disturb the animals –
when they are alerted that one of the spiders is missing, Peter disregards the warning and is then bitten by that
spider, giving him the superpowers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHn_UoGb-Yc
Reconnaissance: In Snow White, the evil stepmother seeks the heart and life of Snow White as revenge for being
more beautiful than her, she attempts to kill the girl many times and almost finally succeeds.
Delivery: In Tangled, the villain, Rapunzel’s ‘foster mother’ gains information on where Rapunzel is heading by
following the signs she had left behind and gaining the help of two other villains that used to accompany Flynn
Rider. She also finds the crown of the princess hidden away and pieces together what happened, using the crown to
Trickery: Again, using Tangled as an example: Rapunzel’s ‘foster mother’ tricks Rapunzel in to taking the crown and
giving it to Flynn Rider, when she eventually does, Flynn noticed his old accomplices and gives them the crown, he is
then also tricked and knocked out, tied to a boat and sent out towards the town – this makes Rapunzel think that
Flynn has deceived her and sends her back to her mother, who had tricked the accomplices and knocked them out.
Villainy or Lack: An example of this would be Ice King from Adventure Time, he’s always trying to steal the
princesses, I don’t think he’s trying to be a bad guy, it just shows how lonely he is – the thing that Ice King lacks is
intelligence and strategy, he keeps the princess’ locked up in a cell that can be easily broken out of.
Mediation: An example of mediation is the Doctor Who episode, The Eleventh Hour when The Doctor confronts the
Atraxi who are trying to destroy the Earth for the crimes they’ve committed, when The Doctor asks the Atraxi to
check if Earth has committed any crimes and when it comes up negative, the Doctor asks them to leave the Earth in
Beginning Counter-Action: In Beauty and the Beast, Belle chooses to take her fathers place in being captured by the
beast which in the end leads to happiness and love.
Departure: In Pocahontas the hero sets off on her mission when she meets the so called dangerous ‘white man’ and
introduces him to some of the sacred secrets of the land – putting her trust in him, falling in love without realising it
and eventually realising that not all of the ‘white man’ are supposed to be feared because not all of them are
harmful and want to destroy and pillage – she eventually brings this knowledge to her tribe.
Receipt of Magical Agent: In Disney’s Ariel, the hero receives the magical agent of her legs from the villain, Ursula.
These are the magical agent because it gives her the ability to walk on land and attempt love and interaction with
More of Propp’s Functions
Guidance: In Mulan, the hero reaches her destination when she recieves honour for her valiant
efforts from the emperor himself and proves to everyone that she is both masculine, fierce and
femanine, her mission was to fight for her country and win and she succeeded.
Branding: In Hercules, it starts with the hero being poor and then working his way up to greatness
and recognition as a hero by being trained by Phil and then taken to a city where the hero has to
take action against a giant three headed creature and wins, earning the respect of the citizens –
further earning their respect by helping out around the towns until he is known worldwide.
Return: Again using Hercules, once he has reached Olympus, the place where he belongs – he
realises that he wants to live on Earth with Megara (Meg) and decides to return to Earth with her.
Pursuit: The hero in The Amazing Spiderman is chased by Dr Curt Connors/Lizard who is the main
protagonist - through the sewer system and also through the hero, Peter Parker’s school.
Rescue: In World War Z, the hero and his family are running away from the deranged, infected
people and manage to get away in a camper van practically unharmed. They then, after getting
their camper van stolen take refuge in a families home in a block of run-down flats, in the
morning they are chased by more deranged infected people on to a roof where they make
another lucky get away in a helicopter with the families son.
Unfounded Claims: The protagonist in Shrek, Prince Charming fools Fiona in to believing that he is
Shrek after Shrek consumes a potion that turns him in to a supposedly handsome human – Fiona
falls for Prince Charming’s trickery and believes that he is in fact Shrek to the point of almost
Recognition: Using Shrek as the example again, after Prince Charming fools Fiona in to believing
that he is Shrek, Shrek makes his appearance and tries to prove Prince Charming is a fake and that
he is the real Shrek – it is later revealed when the magic wears off.
Exposure: In Ariel, the hero’s auntie, Ursula (the villain) is revealed as the false hero when during
her marriage, Ariel interrupts and Ursula turns back in to the horrible beast that she is, the love
spell she cast on the prince is broken and she reveals her evil plot that she had planned all along.
Transfiguration: In Hercules, the hero is given a new appearance when he is training to become
the hero that he was meant to be – he becomes more muscular and handsome.
Punishment: In the Avengers, Loki, the villain is taken back to Asguard by his brother, Thor, a hero
- to face his destiny for the crimes he had committed. We don’t find out how he is exactly
Equilibrium – This is the beginning of any story: in my story the equilibrium is when Mr Millar is
being fired by Mr King for being late and lacking worth effort, Mr Millar then lies and tells his boss
that his daughter can turn ordinary paper in to money with the touch of her hand, this causes the
boss to demand that her talent is proven and thus the story begins.
Disequilibrium – This is where Rumpelstiltskin makes his appearances and turns the paper in to
money for Mr Millar’s daughter/the hero for a price, one of them being her first born child – she
accepts, after the tasks she marries the boss and has a child a year later which causes
Rumpelstiltskin to come back and claim his prize, distraught and upset the hero bursts in to
tears, taking pity on her, Rumpelstiltskin gives her the task of finding his name – giving her 3 days to
do so. This is the Disequilibrium because it’s where the storyline is messed up, an event occurs
which causes a chain reaction of events that unfold to tell more of the story until it can be resolved
New Equilibrium – After being given the task, the hero sets out on her ‘quest’ and looks
desperately for any uncommon names on the internet, failing to give the villain the correct name
after 2 days it seems all hope is lost, but alas the hero’s husband (the helper) gives her some
valuable information that gives her the name of Rumpelstiltskin. Pretending not to know his name
on the first 2 attempts, on the third attempt she gives him his name causing shock and anger –
Rumpelstiltskin turns in to a mass of rage and tears himself in two – this restores the happiness and
the vision of the Hero and lets her keep her prize. This is the new equilibrium as the problems that
caused the disruption for the middle of the storyline is now resolved and there is a happy ending.
The binary opposites in my story are:
Mrs King/Jess Vs.
Hero Vs. Villain
Definition: Binary Opposition is the idea that in a story there are two separate sides that are fighting
against each other for a cause, some examples are:
Jedi vs. Sith
Alien vs. Predator
Humans vs. Covenant
Evil vs. Good
Harry Potter vs. Voldemort
The types of structure I’ve used in my graphic novel are:
Open or Closed Narrative: A ‘closed narrative’ is a story that has a conclusion, an ending – an equilibrium giving the reader a
sense of satisfaction that they’re able to read the end of the story and know what happens: an example is Cinderella, “And they
all lived happily ever after”. An ‘open narrative’ is a story that has no conclusion, no ending – essentially a cliff hanger, this leaves
the reader wanting more because it doesn’t tell them what happens next: an example is The Avengers, the villain from Captain
America makes an appearance at the end, revealing to us that this is not the end of the story: My story has a closed narrative
because it has an ending, we see that Rumpelstiltskin dies and we see that the vision and happiness of the hero is restored and
the family portrait at the end really expresses this.
Single or Multi Strand Narrative: A ‘single strand narrative’ means that during the story, you’re only following one storyline, one
character throughout their quest or adventure, an example is: the video game, Fable – in this you’re only following ‘the hero’ on
their quest to victory. A ‘multi strand narrative’ is following an assortment of character storylines, not just one – for example, The
Big Bang Theory, during the show it’s never just following one storyline, the viewer gets to find out the background of every
character, not just one. My story has a single strand narrative due to only following one storyline, the hero’s without finding out
any background information from any other characters or seeing any other characters perspective.
Linear or Non-Linear Narrative: A ‘linear narrative’ means that the storyline is in the usual format with a beginning, middle and
end – a very simple way of creating a story, an example of a story that has this is: any Final Destination film, the beginning is that
someone gets a vision of what’s to come which is the death of close or not close friends or acquaintances and then saving them
from their impending doom – the middle is the deaths of at least 2 of the victims that were saved and then the person who
received the vision realising that it goes in an order and attempting to save the other people, whilst also trying to save
themselves too, the end is the almost ensured safety of some of the survivors until they all end up in one place at one time by
‘coincidence’ and end up dying at the same time. A ‘non-linear narrative’ is a storyline that doesn’t follow the usual guidelines,
the storyline is messed up so that it could start with the end, go to the middle and finish at the beginning for example: 500 Days
of Summer which starts with the end – the man being alone, heartbroken and works it’s way through how he got to that stage.
My story is the simple ‘linear narrative’ as it has a clear beginning, middle and end. (Referring to equilibrium)
Realist or Anti-Realist: A ‘realist narrative’ is events in stories that would occur in everyday life situations, examples being:
Eastenders, The Mindy Project, Rules of Engagement, How I Met Your Mother and so on. An ‘Anti-Realist narrative’ is events that
are extremely unlikely to occur in everyday situations, non-fiction is usually used in these types of narratives with things such as
monsters, myths, beasts, legends and so on - examples being: Doctor Who, Supernatural, Adventure Time, Buffy the Vampire
Slayer and so on. My story is a anti-realist narrative because it’s impossible to magically turn paper in to money, magically take
the vision and happiness of a person or to watch someone rip themselves in half and disappear completely, plus as the original
story is a folk tale, it will be an anti-realist narrative no matter what.
For a few of my images I used the Rotoscoping technique which involves adding new layers on top of a real
life/already existing image and putting a colour overlay on top of the selected area – changing the colour to
make skin tone or whatever colour is needed to complete the image. I enjoyed the rotoscoping process and I
think that my rotoscoped images went extremely well, considering I’m new to the technique, it took quite a
while for me to complete the images, so I decided to alter between rotoscoping and the comic book effect.
However, compared to the work of A Scanner Darkly, a 2007 film that was completely professionally
rotoscoped, my final products look a lot less professional.
Another technique I used for my images was the Comic Book effect, this means duplicating both the
background and image layer, turning the visibility of the first layer’s copy off and selecting the first layer, going
in to the filter gallery and choosing the cut out option, changing the dials to my advantage until I’m happy
with the final image. I’m very pleased with how my images came out, they’re as professional as I can get them
at this point and they look exactly how I imagined they would.
There is a fair bit of text in my final design with the majority of it being speech between characters, I created the
speech bubbles on Microsoft PowerPoint and added them to my images, adding the text in to them on Photoshop. I
had trouble with connecting speech bubbles, not being able to finish the images by connecting them, I wasn’t able to
find any speech bubbles on the internet that could help me and I had a lot of trouble attempting to create them
myself, but it’s pretty clear who is speaking and when as I have put them in order. Depending on where the characters
are standing, I had to edit the flick of the speech bubble to direct towards the person who is speaking, the connecting
speech bubbles had no flick to show that they are text/speech that is carried on. I also used quite a lot of British jargon
to make the story more modern and for the reader to know exactly where the story is set. Comparing this to other
graphic novels such as, Scott Pilgrim, it seems a lot less professional, I used the same font which is – Comic Book and
used similar speech bubbles but in comparison Scott Pilgrim is clearly a lot more professional.
I also used a lot of captions in my final design to tell the reader/viewer
what’s going on in the story without giving a whole paragraph on the
whole situation – giving them a brief description rather than half a page. I
used the font, ‘Harrington’ for some captions that said things such as:
‘meanwhile’, ‘Suddenly’ etc. I also used a red background on these. And I
used the font Comic Book for the longer captions using a yellow
background and thick black border to make it look more professional.
Comparing this to the captions from graphic novels such as Superman –
I’ve used the same font and I’d say that my captions are of a similar
professional quality although they stand out a lot more than the captions
in the professional comic.
In some of my pictures, I have made sure to show that
Mr King is taller than the other characters, such as the
first picture with Mr King and Mr Millar – this shows that
Mr King is of a higher importance than Mr Millar – Mr
King has more power.
I have shown this again in another photo when Mr Millar
and Jess (The Hero) are stood outside of Mr King’s office
door – they are below the writing, showing they are of a
lower status than Mr King.
I have also used colour imagery on the background of
pictures to highlight the amount of happiness in the
picture – pictures with black backgrounds show how sad
or dark the situation is and pictures with lighter
background suggest that the situation is good and
At some points, Rumpelstiltskin is taller than the hero – Jess. This is
to show that in those moment, Rumpelstiltskin has more power
than Jess does.
In some pictures I have used colour imagery to help me highlight
whether the situation is good or bad. Darker colours for bad, lighter
colours for good – even when the pictures are in black and white.
For good situations I used bright colours such as yellow and white
to signify that the sitiation is happy. I used black backgrounds and
dark colours to signify that the situation is bad or something
upsetting is occuring.
My work doesn’t have a lot of representation, there are only a few examples such as genders:
Races: There isn’t really any variety of races in my graphic novel,
Rumpelstiltskin and Mr Millar are slightly darker coloured than the
other characters – this was mainly because I used the same person
and I needed to make them look a little different.
Gender: There is only one gender
difference, the majority of the characters for
this story are male – there is only one female
involved, which is the hero of the story, Mrs
King, the baby could be any gender, the
gender is not specified in the story. The men
in the story have so far been rather
unpleasant, lying, raging, locking a girl up in a
room for 3 days to make her perform a task
she can’t do etc. I have shown this by using
different colours, light colours for good
situations, dark colours for bad.
Mr King/The Boss
Classes: Mr King is the character in the highest class, being the
boss it means he is a lot wealthier, I made sure to show this in the
smart way that he dressed and the way he stood over other
characters, he stands taller than Mr Millar and Jess. Mr Millar and
Jess are working class, this is shown as they are smaller than Mr
King. Also, when they are stood in front of Mr King’s office
door, they are lower than his name, showing the differences, it’s
lower than Mr King but it’s still quite a high social class:
however, Jess ends up in Mr King’s class when she becomes Mrs
King, the baby is also in this class. Rumpelstiltskin is in the lowest
class being a homeless man, I made sure to show this by dressing
him in clothes that aren’t as fancy or modern as the clothes the
other characters wear.
Ages: There are only a few age differences, Rumpelstiltskin is the eldest
character, he is hundreds of years old, it shows this at the very end on his
gravestone, he also looks a lot older than the other characters, I made
sure of this by dressing him in clothing that you would most likely see an
elderly homeless man wear. Mr. King is the second eldest, being the boss
it makes him more responsible, I showed this by using a taller person with
stubble (make up) who was dressed a lot more formal than the other
characters. Mr. Millar is the third eldest, being the father and employee, I
made him the smaller person as it shows he has less importance. Mrs
King – the hero is a bit younger than the other characters, it’s obvious
because she is younger than Mr Millar, as it’s her father. I showed this by
dressing her in more stylish clothing and giving her lipstick – the youngest
character is the baby.
Historical and Cultural Context
Rumpelstiltskin is a folk tale that
originated in Germany – it was
collected and then produced by the
famous, Brothers Grimm in 1812.
The story of Rumpelstiltskin has made appearances in a lot of media
•In literature, e.g. Jonathan Carroll’s novel, Sleeping in Flame
•In comics, e.g. Mr Mxyzptlk in DC’s Superman
•In music, e.g. The song, ‘Split Myself in Two’ by the Meat Muppets
•In television, e.g. A main character in Once Upon a Time
•In Film, e.g. In Shrek
My product is a lot different to the original tale, first of all – like Once Upon a Time, it’s a modernised version, instead of Rumpelstiltskin being a goblin or
super villain like Mr Mxyzptlk in DC’s Superman comic, he is a homeless man who appears at the aid of a young girl who’s been asked to perform a task she
cannot do, this is the main character and hero, Jess – instead of being the Millar’s daughter, she is Mr Millar’s daughter, instead of the Miller trying to look
more important to the king and lying about his daughters ‘talent’, he is an employee trying to keep his job, instead of the King there is the boss and instead of
the miller’s daughter spinning straw in to gold, it’s Mr Millar’s daughter turning paper in to money.
Instead of asking for jewellery, Rumpelstiltskin asks for the vision and colour of Jess’ right eye and her happiness. The original story was set in the 1800’s or
before, this story is set in the present – instead of a huge castle and gigantic rooms filled with heaps of hay, it’s average sized office rooms filled with stacks of
paper. The Queen/the miller’s daughter is confronted by Rumpelstiltskin in a room in the castle, in my version she is confronted in her child’s nursery and her
There are many versions to how the story ended, Rumpelstiltskin runs off and disappears, he flies out the window on a ladle or he thrusts his foot in to the
ground so hard that it goes up to his waist and he then rips himself in two. In my ending, Rumpelstiltskin thrusts his foot in to the ground so hard that it goes
up to his knee, rips himself in half and then disappears, leaving a stunned Mrs King whose happiness, vision and eye colour return to her in an overwhelming
wave of happiness – Rumpelstiltskin is dead.
I am very pleased with how my final piece turned out, I think it has been put together well
– my images were edited separately and when I had finished, they were put in to the
correct order and put on to the final layout and the images still made sense even without
the text and as soon as that was put in, it came together very well – comparing it to
professional graphic novels such as Batman, it looks quite amateur but I think that it’s still
good for a first attempt.
I think I used my time well, I rushed a little towards
the end but I also ended up finishing quite quickly – I
think I may have rushed a little too much.
I didn’t really stick to my schedule, it was only a quick
plan that could help me keep track of what I was
doing on which day, but because I had some problems
uploading the photos and a change to my original
ideas, I ended up not using the schedule at all.
However, my work was handed in on time, I achieved
this by working fast, occasionally checking the
schedule and doing some of the work at home.
I think I have been very creative
with this project, there are parts of
my final product that don’t follow
my original plans due to
improvisation when something I
wanted to do couldn’t happen.
I think the most creative idea I have
had for this project is: that
Rumpelstiltskin takes the hero’s
happiness because, the whole goes
from bright, vivid colours to black
and white really impressed me, and
I came up with the idea!
And the idea is, that the colour
represents happiness and as soon
as it’s taken away it shows how dull
and lifeless everything is without it.
I think the least creative idea I’ve
had is not using a wide range of
effects, I only really focused on
using filter to make the comic book
effect – if I had used some more
images, that would have been a lot
The entire process involved using technology, one
way or another. I have used it well, making flat
plans, storyboards and all of the planning that
enabled me to start preparing for my production. I
used my own digital camera to take pictures of
volunteered models in the poses that I needed, I
then used Photoshop to edit my photos, which I
am extremely pleased with as I think they are quite
a high standard. I again used Photoshop to create
the layout and then a range of techniques to add
my edited pictures on to it. Again, compared to
other graphic novels, my work is very amateur, but
I think I did extremely well with the technology.
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