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What’s eating Gilbert Grape?. Propp’s Character Theory. Introduction to Propp’s Character Theory. Vladimir Propp (1969) developed a character theory for studying media texts and productions, which indicates that there were 7 broad  character types The villain (struggles against the hero)

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what s eating gilbert grape

What’s eating Gilbert Grape?

Propp’s Character Theory

introduction to propp s character theory
Introduction to Propp’s Character Theory
  • Vladimir Propp (1969) developed a character theory for studying media texts and productions, which indicates that there were 7 broad character types
  • The villain (struggles against the hero)
  • The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object)
  • The helper (helps the hero in the quest)
  • The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative)
  • Her father
  • The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off)
  • The hero or victim/seeker hero, reacts to the donor, weds the princess
gilbert grape played by johnny depp
Gilbert GrapePlayed By Johnny Depp

Gilbert Grape is portrayed as the hero as he is set on a journey of transformation, one example is the fact he treats his mother like a joke brining children to the window to laugh at her but when she dies he does not want her to be laughed at anymore, he appears to have done a lot

Of growing up during the film.

momma played by darlene cates
MommaPlayed by Darlene Cates

Momma is portrayed as the dispatcher as she is relying on Gilbert and her other children to provide for her. As she is too big to leave the house therefore she relies on her children to take care for her and provide an income.

Momma expects Gilbert to take extra careful care of Arnie as she cannot herself she can only give him a comforting hug when he needs it.

However she has her own heroic scene

When she finds the courage to leave her

House to go and get Arnie from the police


becky played by juliette lewis
BeckyPlayed by Juliette Lewis 

Becky is portrayed as the donor as on her arrival she gives Gilbert a new look on life and hope. Becky also helps Arnie over come his fear of water and gets him to come and swim in the water with her. Becky also gives the people she surrounds a new out look on life with her free spirit personality. She also gives Gilbert and Arnie a opportunity to travel with her.

arnie grape played by leonardo dicaprio
Arnie GrapePlayed by Leonardo DiCaprio

Arnie is Gilbert’s younger brother who is turning 18 a day which nobody thought he would live to. Arnie is not like the other children he has a mental disability so Gilbert has to take extra care of him.

Arnie can be seen as a helper as he helps Momma leave the house even though he is not aware of being a helper he gives Momma a reason to leave the house and go out in public something that people thought they would never seen.

Arnie also helps bring Gilbert and Becky together, this is good as Gilbert is able to see how well Becky gets along with Arnie and Becky helps both of them come over their fear of water.


The false Hero could Bobby McBurney who works as an undertaker as he brings with him a cold and looming presence, he is wishing death and waiting for death to keep him in business.

Carver’s wife is portrayed as a villain as she is the main suspect for her husband’s death and is also having an affair with Gilbert, but the audience do not know how long this has been going on for.