Clarke Griffen Seen Through the Lens of Vladimir Propp

Gare Reid

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The 100, created by Jason Rothenberg, is a science fiction trilogy tv show, which first aired on March 19th, 2014, and is currently in the midsts of season 3 in the Spring of 2016 on The CW Network. The first season is set 97 years after a devastating nuclear war that has destroyed life on Earth as we know it, however there were survivors and have created an operational space station to escape the devastating state of Earth The leaders of the Arc decided to send 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes that the Earth is safe, and the Arc can be relocated back to Earth.

The lens of narratology refers to both the theory and the study of narrative and narrative structure and the ways that these affect our perception can clearly be seen through Clarke’s adventure during The 100.

Vladimir Propp  is a 18th century Russian scholar who analyzed patterns through many different literary texts. He developed The Narrative Theory which is a list of seven characteristics that can be used to analyze any character, based on his dissection of several folk tales. The seven functions that he used are The Villain, The Donor, The Helper, The Princess, The Dispatcher, The False Hero, and The Hero.

The 100 utilizes several of Vladimir Propp’s Seven Functions to create the make up of Clarke Griffin throughout the series.

The Hero: Who goes off on the quest, “reacts to the Donor, defeats the Villain, and weds/rules at [the] end.”

Clarke is the epitome of a young adult heroine. She is strong, brave, and is willing to make difficult choices in order to ensure the survival of her people. This can be displayed through many of her actions throughout the entire series. She is able to keep her composure of being a great leader, despite the death of her father, the threat of the Grounders, Reapers, Mountain Men, finding her place in the world, and simply just surviving the elements.

The Villain: is someone or something that opposes the actions of the hero. 

Despite Clarke being arguably classified as a great young adult heroine, during the majority of the television series, she does have questionable acts of violence. One of the hardest thing, that hit home the hardest was when she had to was to kill Finn in order to prevent him being tortured by an entire village of grounders. Based on the actions of Finn when he massacred an entire village, because he thought that the village was hiding his friends.

Most noticeable was when she sacrificed an entire civilization in order to save her people from the Mountain Man who were harvesting their bone marrow in order to save themselves from the radiation from the outside. Stricken with grief she can’t face her people, so she leaves them forever.

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The Donor who tests the hero and only provides “magical support or advice” when the hero succeeds in the test and The Helper who assists the hero on a quest, often using magic; the Donor and Helper can often be one and the same.

Clarke’s moral compass is mostly impacted by her need to help others. It is clear that the only thing that she cares about is the survival of her people. The second that she gets on the ground of Earth, she doesn’t celebrate with the rest of her friends, she instead looks around in order to ensure that they make it to Mount Weather. Throughout the entire season she provides medical treatment to her injured friends including, Jasper after being impaled by the Grounders. She also provides moral support to Bellamay throughout the entire series in order to co-lead their people. Clarke also seeks advice from Raven, Octavia, and Finn.

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The Princess

Clarke does not stereotypically fall under the Princess trait. We immediately learn that Clarke does not care about love triangles. All she cares about is her survival.  Octavia let’s Clarke know that “Before you get any ideas, Finns mine” Octavia, and then Clarke immediately responds with “Before you get any ideas, I don’t care.” She doesn’t want to be romantically involved with anyone, because she just wants her people to survive.

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The Dispatcher: Who “sends the hero off” on the quest; the Dispatcher can often be the same as the Donor and Helper.

Clarke’s moral compass is mostly impacted by her need to help others. It is clear that the only thing that she cares about is the survival of her people. The second that she gets on the ground of Earth, she doesn’t celebrate with the rest of her friends, she instead looks around in order to ensure that they make it to Mount Weather. She soon realizes that they landed on the wrong mountain and will have a long road ahead of them.  “All that matters is that we make it to Mount Weather” Clarke. “Do you think we care who is in charge, we need to get to Mount Weather” Clarke. Immediately she is concerned about getting food, and surviving, so she gathers a group of people to scout out the area.

The False Hero: Who claims to be the Hero but is “always discovered/punished”; the role can often be “merged with the Villain.”

This gif is a nice representation of how she feels about acts of violence, she is strong enough to pull the trigger, however she immediately regrets killing someone, despite knowing that she has to in order to survive.

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