Myths, Legends and Folktales - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Myths, Legends and Folktales


These stories include legends, ... a good ghost story could be sold for money. ... Tall tales may come from other countries but we are most familiar with American ones. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Myths, Legends and Folktales

Myths, Legends and Folktales
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?
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  • 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
  • A legend usually includes an element of truth,
    or is based on historic facts, but with 'mythical
  • Legends usually involve heroic characters or
    fantastic places and often encompass the
    spiritual beliefs of the culture in which they

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
  • 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.

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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
  • 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
  • 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.

  • Myth were composed 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.
  • Some were composed 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
  • 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 of an old story.
  • The orientation/setting 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 involvement of supernatural forces, e.g.
    fairy godmothers, creatures that can talk
  • Tales are based around themes like trickery and

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.
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