This thread reminds me of Vladimar Propp's ground-breaking book, "Morphology of the Folktale".
The themes mentioned are universal and standard in the building of a classic oral folk tale.
Chapter III - "The Functions of Dramatis Personae" describes the different stages that a protaganist goes through. If you build a story up around these themes it works.
Here's a summary of Propp's structure:
Propp's Structure of the Magic Tale
I. Introductory sequence
1. Family member leaves family--the hero is introduced.
2. Interdiction--don't do X
3. Interdiction is violated--hero does X anyway
4. Villian--reconnaisance of hero
5. Villian gets information about hero
6. Villian attempts to deceive hero with trickery
7. Hero submits to trickery -- complicity.
II. Body of the story
8. Villian causes harm or injury through villany; villian carries off a victim, the hero or the desired magical object, which must be retrieved.
8a. A member of the hero's family lacks something, or wants something.
EITHER OF THESE CONSTITUTE THE LACK.
9. Lack is made known to the hero.
10. Hero agrees to counteraction
11. Hero leaves home
III. Donor sequence (magic agent obtained)
12. Hero is tested/questioned.
13. Hero reacts.
14. Hero receives a magical agent/object which helps in quest.
15. Transfer to place where the lack is to be found
16. Combat with villian
17. Hero is branded
18. Villian is defeated
19. Lack is liquidated--object of the quest is obtained by the hero (the tale often ends here, but may continue to the fourth sphere of action)
IV. Hero's return
20. Hero sets off for home
21. Hero is pursued
22. Rescued from pursuit (tale often ends here, but can continue)
23. Hero arrives home and is not recognized
24. False hero presents claims of true hero
25. Difficult task is set
26. Task is resolved
27. True hero is recognized
28. False hero is unmasked
29. Epiphany of true hero--new appearance/transfiguration
30. Villian is punished
31. Marriage and rule of true hero
1. Hero (also the Seeker or Victim)
3. Donor (from whom the hero gets some magical object)
4. Magical Helper (the character that helps the hero in the quest)
5. Dispatcher (the character that makes the lack known)
6. False Hero (the character who takes credit for hero's actions)
7. Prince/princess (person the hero marries)
8. Victim (person harmed by the villian if not the hero)
Read more here:http://faculty.gvsu.edu/websterm/Hero.htm
[This message was edited by Fashionpolice on April 05, 2003 at 02:33 AM.]