Moves (from Propp)


Each new villainy or each new lack creates a new move.

A single tale is present in the following instances:

1. If the entire tale consists of one move.

2. If the tale consists of two moves, one of which ends positively and the other negatively. For example, first move: a stepmother drives out her stepdaughter; her father takes her away; she returns with gifts. Second move: the stepmother dispatches her daughters; the father takes them away, and they return punished.

3. In the event of the trebling of entire moves. A dragon abducts a girl. First and second moves: elder brothers set out, in turn, to look for her and become stuck. Third move: the youngest brother sets out and rescues the girl and his brothers.

4. If a magical agent is obtained in the first move and is used only in the second. For example, first move: brothers set out from home to obtain horses for themselves. They get them and return. Second move: a dragon threatens a princess. The brothers set forth. They reach their goal with the help of the horses. Here, apparently, the following has occurred: the obtaining of the magical agent, which is usually placed in the middle of the tale, is placed before the main complication (the menace of the dragon). The obtaining of the magical agent is preceded by an unmotivated realization of a lack-the brothers suddenly want horses, thereby provoking a quest, i.e., a move.

5. We also have a single tale if, up to the conclusive liquidation of misfortune, there is suddenly sensed some sort of shortage or lack which provokes a new quest, i.e. a new move, but not a new tale. In such cases a new horse, the egg containing the villain's death, etc., are needed, which also provides the beginning for a new development, while the development which has already commenced temporarily pauses.

6. We also have a single tale in the case where two villainous acts are present together in the complication (the banishment and bewitching of a stepdaughter, and so on).

7. A single tale is also evident in texts where the first move includes a fight with a dragon, and the second move begins with the theft of the booty by brothers, the casting of the hero into a chasm, etc.; unfounded claims then follow, as do difficult tasks. This is the development which became clear to us during the enumeration of all functions of the tale. This is the most complete and perfect form of the tale.

8. Tales in which the heroes part at a road marker may also be considered as integral tales. It must be noted, however, that each brother's fate may form a completely separate tale, and it is possible that this case should be excluded from the category of integral tales.

In all other cases we have two or more tales. When defining double tales, one must not allow oneself to become misled by very brief moves. Especially brief are the moves which include crop damage and a declaration of war. In general, crop damage occupies a somewhat special place. For the most part, it is immediately evident that the character who damages the crop plays a bigger role in the second move than in the first, and that through crop damage he is merely introduced. Thus in tale No.105 the mare that steals the hay is subsequently the donor (compare No.186 and No.187 as well). In tale No.126 the brass peasant is introduced in the form of a little bird who is stealing grain; he is analogous to the peasant of tales No.123 and No. 125. ("And that birdie-that was the brass peasant.") But a division of tales which is set up on the basis of the appearance of characters is impossible. Otherwise, it might be possible to say that each first move only prepares and introduces characters for the following move. The stealing of crops and the capture of the thief is, theoretically, a completely separate tale. But for the most part such a move is felt to be introductory.