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  1.  (7773.1)
    I'm currently planning something that will use fairy tales and folk tales.
    But rather than specific stories I want to play with the easily recognised type characters and situations.
    Being a board of widely read people I thought a good few of you would be interested in these topics.

    Below are the characters and situations I've thought of that are most common / most recognisable. But I'm interested to hear from anyone who thinks I've missed one or many off my list.

    3 sisters/women/witches
    Evil step-mother
    Trapped Princess
    Troll under bridge / monster on outskirts of town
    Youngest / least regarded son saves the day
    Object to be obtained on top of mountain
    Woman who lives alone is evil / good witch
    A tricky oath that can be out-thought
    A simple request that turns out to be far more than expected
    True love proved by an act of trust / faith

    And if anyone has a good local folk-tale that doesn't fit any of these, I'd love to hear it.
    • CommentAuthorchenryhen
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010
    It's less broad, but I think more than one fairy tale uses this idea:

    X brothers/companions, each of whom has a singular talent that comes into play at some point during a quest
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010
    Kidnapping of various flavors
    A tricky oath that is used to catch someone in a round-about fashion
    A wish that backfires horribly, often to teach a lesson (where two people get wishes but one person is punished by having their wish turn against them because they wished for something selfishly, while the other person asks for something unselfishly and is blessed)
    Fairy godmother
    Wise, elderly person
    Maligned servant who is taken care of in the end
    Stalwart hero
    • CommentAuthoradrian r
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010
    Vladimir Propp's work is worth looking at. He examined tons of Russian folk stories and distilled them into the following sequence. One story won't necessarily use all of them, but this is the sequence in which they'd be used:

    1: Absention. One member of the family absents himself or herself.
    2: Interdiction. An interdiction is addressed to the hero – a command, request, suggestion, etc.
    3: Violation. The interdiction is violated. At this point, the villain enters the story.
    4: Reconnaissance. The villain attempts to gain information.
    5: Delivery. The villain receives information about the hero or victim.
    6: Trickery. The villain attempts to deceive his victim.
    7: Complicity. The victim submits to this deception.
    8: a) Villainy. The villain causes harm or injury to a member of the family. This function is exceptionally important, since by means of it the actual movement of the story is created.
    b) Lack. Some tales may initiate complication through lack or insufficiency rather than villainy. The family may desire something or lack something.
    9: Mediation. Misfortune or luck is made known; the hero is approached, requested, or commanded. S/he is allowed to go or dispatched.
    10: Counteraction. The hero agrees to take action to counter the misfortune or lack.
    11: Departure. The hero leaves home.
    12: First Donor Function. The hero is tested, interrogated, attacked, which prepares for his or her receipt of a magical agent or helper from a donor.
    13: Hero’s Reaction. The hero reacts to the actions of the future donor.
    14: Receipt of Agent. Hero acquires use of magical agent or helper.
    15: Guidance. Hero is led or guided to the object of search.
    16: Struggle. Villain and hero engage in direct combat.
    17: Marking. The hero is branded or marked.
    18: Victory. The villain is defeated.
    19: Liquidation. The misfortune or lack is now liquidated.
    20: Return. The hero returns.
    21: Pursuit. The hero is pursued.
    22: Rescue. The hero is rescued from pursuit. Many narratives end here, or preceding elements of the narrative may be repeated.
    23: Unrecognised Arrival. Hero arrives, unrecognised, home or elsewhere.
    24: Unfounded Claims. A false hero presents unfounded claims.
    25: Difficult Task. A difficult task presented to the hero.
    26: Solution. Task solved.
    27: Recognition. Hero is recognised.
    28: Exposure. False hero or villain is exposed.
    29: Transfiguration. Hero given new appearance.
    30: Punishment. Villain is punished.
    31: Wedding. Hero is married and/or ascends the throne.

    Characters that perform a function:

    The Hero – a character that seeks something.
    The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s quest.
    The Donor – who provides an object with magical properties.
    The Dispatcher – who sends the hero on a quest via a message.
    The False Hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making a false claim.
    The Helper – who aids the hero.
    The Princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villain’s plots.
    Her Father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort. -- chock full of storytelling goodness
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010
    Apparently there's a Aarne-Thompson classification system wihch categorizes 2500 plots.
  2.  (7773.6)
    I can't believe I forgot Fairy Godmother!
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010
    Popular variant on the "questing to find x y or z" type of theme, someone is deathly ill and only a magic thinguhmuhhoozer from very far away can save them.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010

    It's ok, I got your back. *grin* But yeah, I can't believe you forgot the fairy godmother either.


    "thinguhmuhhoozer" otherwise known as a McGuffin?
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2010
    Innocent, beautiful young person who has been transformed into an animal, monster, or crone/geezer. Cause is usually either a maleficent sorcerer/ess, or some transgression committed by the victim. A variant of this is probably the innocent young person who does some seemingly benign thing and falls into a cursed sleep like unto death (eats the apple, pricks the finger, etc).
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    Though it's really to do with mythology The Hero With A Thousand Faces is basically a book about this, and about how so many myths use the same very important tropes, I'm sure a lot of it would cross over, especially all the quest stuff. It's readable too, Joseph Campbell is awesome.
  3.  (7773.11)
    The list of fairy tale tropes.

    @RobSpalding — Fairy Godmothers weren't actually common in fairytales — they just happen to be featured in a couple of stories that got really prominent.
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales is worth looking at for a different twist on Propp - she has collected fairy tales from around the world with something of a female slant. The Innuit ones are particularly interesting. It shows Propp's list to have a western gendered bias.
  4.  (7773.13)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    I read somewhere a theory that a lot of fairy tales were the old pagan gods and goddess stories preserved in oral tradition

    like sleeping beauty was originally Persephone and so on
    • CommentAuthorEmperor
    • CommentTimeJul 4th 2011
    One of the most useful references for this that I have is Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, perhaps best ordered from your library but if you keep an eye out you can still snag a copy pretty cheaply.
  5.  (7773.15)
    even cinderella echos jesus from the bible. man/woman of perfect heart living in guise of poverty, has to be accepted in lowly state.
  6.  (7773.16)
    Except Cinderella didn't wander around giving lessons to people, and Jesus didn't live happily ever after?
  7.  (7773.17)
    Yeah, but it's a Known True Fact that our Lord And Redeemer had tiny tiny girly feet, and liked to wear diamond slippers.
  8.  (7773.18)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Warren wears diamond slippers?
  9.  (7773.19)
    One of the weirdest folktales I've ever encountered, with lots of variants across different cultures:

    The Girl Without Hands
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeJul 8th 2011
    Hmmm... so i clicks on Mr Johnson's link and has a look at the Wikipedia article on 'The Girl Without Hands'. There's a link to the story of 'The Nixie of the Millpond'. I spend a while reading about water sprites and suchlike and notice a link to 'Jenny Greenteeth' which rings a bell and i end up at 'London's Falling'. There is no escaping the new master, El Bat is everywhere.