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Myths, Legends and Folktales


... listening to stories. Storytellers have catered to the need for a 'good story' since the beginning ... These stories include legends, myths and folktales. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Myths, Legends and Folktales

Myths, Legends and Folktales
  • Mrs. Beach Deane Bozeman English

myths, legends and folktales
  • Storytelling is common to every culture. Most
    people enjoy listening to stories. Storytellers
    have catered to the need for a 'good story' since
    the beginning of civilization.
  • Most people have their own favorite story from
    childhood and, often, these tales are both
    fascinating and frightening. These stories
    include legends, myths and folktales.

What are legends?
  • A legend is a semi-true story, which has been
    passed on from person-to-person and has important
    meaning or symbolism for the culture in which it
    originates. A legend usually includes an element
    of truth, or is based on historic facts, but with
    'mythical qualities'. Legends usually involve
    heroic characters or fantastic places and often
    encompass the spiritual beliefs of the culture in
    which they originate.

What are myths?
  • A myth is a story based on tradition or legend,
    which has a deep symbolic meaning. A myth
    'conveys a truth' to those who tell it and hear
    it, rather than necessarily recording a true
    event. Although some myths can be accounts of
    actual events, they have become transformed by
    symbolic meaning or shifted in time or place.
    Myths are often used to explain universal and
    local beginnings and involve supernatural beings.
    The great power of the meaning of these stories,
    to the culture in which they developed, is a
    major reason why they survive as long as they do
    - sometimes for thousands of years.

What are folktales?
  • A folktale is a popular story that was passed on
    in spoken form, from one generation to the next.
    Usually the author is unknown and there are often
    many versions of the tale. Folktales comprise
    fables, fairy tales, old legends and even 'urban
    legends'. Again, some tales may have been based
    on a partial truth that has been lost or hidden
    over time. It is difficult to categorize
    folktales precisely because they fit into many
    categories. Folk tales are often referred to as
    Tall Tales.

What is the difference between legends, myths and
  • Myths, legends and folktales are hard to classify
    and often overlap. Imagine a line (or continuum)
    as illustrated below, with an historical account
    based on facts at one end and myths or cultural
    folktales at the other as you progress towards
    the mythical/folktale end of the line, what an
    event symbolizes to people, or what they feel
    about it, becomes of greater historical
    significance than the facts, which become less
    important. By the time you reach the far end of
    the spectrum, the story has taken on a life of
    its own and the facts of the original event, if
    there ever was one, have become almost
    irrelevant. It is the message that is important.

Why were the stories told?
  • As well as making fascinating reading, these
    stories also tell us a great deal about how
    people in the past saw, and understood, the world
    around them. There are many reasons why stories
    are told and passed down the generations. Here
    are just a few of them
  • To strengthen a community and provide a common
    understanding. Stories often reflect the beliefs
    of the people who tell them. The popularity of
    any story depends on whether those listening
    approve of the values underlying it. By telling
    and listening to stories, people confirmed their
    ideas about the world around them. Things that
    people found scary, infuriating, or desirable all
    found their way into the stories and they were
    passed on, because people wanted to be assured
    that other people around them were thinking along
    the same lines.

  • As a way of providing moral guidance and showing
    people how they should conduct themselves,
    including the consequences of not doing so. Myths
    and legends, like any good stories, often include
    a moral. Within the myth, the hurt or
    embarrassment experienced by people is often due
    to their own stupidity, greed, dishonesty or
  • To explain how the world works, for example why
    the seasons change, and to explain strange
    happenings or phenomena such as eclipses - the
    reasons for which were unknown in early times.
  • For entertainment purposes. Stories were told to
    amuse and enthrall an audience in the days before
    TV and other forms of mass entertainment.

  • To pass on history and knowledge, such as the
    outcome of battles and tales of courage, in ages
    when many people could not read or write. Many
    myths have an element of truth that has been
    built upon and embellished over the years.
  • For fame, money or recognition - as in all areas
    of life, not all stories were told for good
    reasons. For example, stories of bravery in
    battle could enhance the status of an individual
    or a group or, in later centuries, a good ghost
    story could be sold for money. The truth was not
    always the most important consideration.
  • Regardless of why they were told, many of the
    stories still remain popular today and, although
    we no longer swap stories around the fireside,
    the tradition of storytelling still continues in
    the form of urban legends. Many older stories
    also live on in current day carnivals or
    festivals, which have their roots in a very
    different past.

Features of Myths and Legends
  • A re-telling
  • The orientation is typically timeless e.g. Long,
    long ago
  • Before animals walked the earth
  • A single animal is representative of all animals
    of that kind
  • Natural forces like wind and fire are represented
    by gods or god-like form
  • The resolution of myths and legends explain why
    things are the way we are
  • A classic opening and\or closing (e.g. Once upon
    a time…., And they all lived happily after)

A representative of good and evil in characters
  • Stereotypes e.g. Animals e.g. wolves are bad
    rescuers are male
  • The representative of certain values, wealth
    happiness, beauty happiness
  • The involvement of supernatural forces, e.g.
    fairy godmothers, creatures that can talk
  • Tales are based around themes like trickery and

summarising the outcome of the myth or legend
  • But still to this day…
  • So every time you see…
  • These comments sum up how things came to be .

What makes a hero?
  • A hero is someone who is distinguished for his or
    her courage or ability. They are admired for
    brave deeds and noble qualities. They may have
    performed heroic acts. They may also be someone
    who is a model or an ideal.

  • Make a list of all the heroes you can think of
    both real and fictional.
  • Think about a person in your life you might
    consider a hero. Write a short explanation or
    story about why you consider him/her to be a

Folktales / Tall Tales
  • A tall tale is a story that provides enjoyment to
    a wide variety of audiences. Tall tales stretch
    the imagination through colorful figurative
    language and exaggerations.
  • Tall tales are also known as lying tales they
    are humorous exaggerations.
  • Tall tales may come from other countries but we
    are most familiar with American ones.

Attributes of tall tales
  • Tall tales are often about the frontier days in
    the United States. They are an exaggeration of
    the hardships of frontier life.
  • Tall tales may be about animals, weather,
  • everyday events, and ordinary people but the
    more famous tales are about heroes.
  • Tall tales often feature over-sized people
  • and exaggerated deeds.