Unpacking Folktales (Top Article)The Structural Study of Myth

Lévi-Strauss and Structural Analysis

How to Analyze Folktale Structure

Compilation of Several Sources

The Structure of Myth

Myth, ritual, folktale, etc.

Analyzing Folktales

Use the following procedure to structurally analyze a tale.

    Construct Analysis Graph
  1. Find as many variations of the tale as possible.
  2. Break tale into series of sentences.
  3. Number sentences according to 1) narrative sequence and 2) function.
  4. Bundle sentences with the same function number.
  5. Lay out sentences so they can be read diachronically and synchronically.

    Analyze Analysis Graph
  7. Determine dominant commonality or connection between functions within each mytheme (bundle column).
  8. Examine relationships or connections between mythemes (bundle columns).
  9. Identify transformation rules.
  10. Interpret transformation rules.

Further Structural Analyses

1. Motifemes

2. Barthes's Functions and Indices

3. Greimas Actantial Model


1Lévi-Strauss, C. (1986.) The structural study of myth. Adams, H., and Searle, L., ed., Critical Theory Since 1965. University Press of Florida.

2Advameg, Inc. (2008.) The scientific method: Structuralism. Film Reference: Structuralism and Poststructuralism.

3Klages, M. (2004.) Claude Levi-Strauss: "The Structural Study of Myth" and Other Structuralist Ideas. University of Colorado at Boulder.

4Klages, M. (1997.) Claude Levi-Strauss: The Structural Study of Myth. University of Colorado at Boulder.

5Kuehnel, R., and Lencek, R. (2005.) Levi-Strauss and structural analysis. The Motif of Living Water in Slavic Tradition. Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

6Nöth, W. (1995.) Handbook of Semiotics. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

7Wikipedia. (2009.) Claude Lévi-Strauss.


Unpacking Folktales (Top Article)The Structural Study of Myth

Compiled by Shawn Urban 2009