Vladimir Propp was a folklorist researcher interested in the relationship between characters and narrative.

Propp argued that stories are character driven and that plots develop from the decisions and actions of characters and how they function in a story.

He claimed characters could be classified into certain roles that progress a story.

These roles are:

Infographic showing The Villain character function in Propp's Theory

Type: the Villain

Role: struggles to stop the hero in their quest


Propp's ideas are also relevant in non-fiction print texts like newspapers which often portray politicians as villains if their decisions or policies aren't popular with the public. When someone has done a good deed for charity or helped in a daring rescue, newspapers often portray them as heroes.

Photograph of newspaper front pages from May 2015

Newspaper front pages from May 2015