Identifying Function, Agent, and Setting Motifs in Some Early Spanish "libros de caballerías"


The essay presents the methodology of a doctoral thesis (2008, University of Wisconsin-Madison) which classifies plot motifs in some sixteenth-century Castilian books of chivalry. Therein, two critical approaches to the texts are noted: motif studies, which analyze narrative components, and structural studies, which examine whole plotlines. Based on V. Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale, the motif is defined as a unit of plot structure. Propp’s thirty-one functions and seven tale-roles are then reduced to three categories: settings, functions, and agents. To demonstrate, a sample text from Amadís de Gaula, Book I is analyzed and its plot motifs indexed accordingly.

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