myths, legends, and folktales

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  • Myths, Legends, and Folktales

  • Storytelling is common to every culture. Most people enjoy listening to stories. Storytellers have catered for 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 myths, legends and folktales?

  • The Fairy CallFrom "Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book"

    A spell for summoning the fairiesSit where the cat sits.Cross your toes.Close your eyes.And smell a rose.Then say under your breath:"I believe in fairies, sure as death."Gadflykins! Gladtrypins!Gutterpuss and Cass!Come to me fairilyEach lad and lass!

  • Folklore

  • FolkloreFolklore refers to the beliefs, manners, customs, observations, superstitions, tales, ballads, proverbs, music, and art of an earlier time.

    Folk literature refers to stories with uncertain origins that were handed down orally from one storyteller to another.

  • Fairy Tale and FableFairy Tale - A fanciful story written for, or told to, children.Fairy tales do not have to be stories about fairies.Usually contains at least one supernatural element (magic, dragons, elves, ghosts, hobgoblins, witches, etc.).Most fairy tales are based on the traditional folklore of a specific culture.

    Fable - A short allegorical narrative making a moral point, traditionally by means of animal characters who speak and act like human beings. Fables date back for centuries and are examples of the earliest form of story telling. Aesop, a Greek slave, started telling fables as early as 550 BC. During epoch of the Tyrants in Greece, fables were often used for political purposes.

  • 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'.

  • The NightingaleThe Seventh SisterHow the Snake Got PoisonAli Baba and the Forty ThievesLegends usually involve heroic characters or fantastic places and often encompass the spiritual beliefs of the culture in which they originate.

  • The Bluebird and Coyote *Pima tribe The bluebird was once a very ugly color. But there was a lake where no river flowed in or out, and the bird bathed in it four times every morning for four mornings. Every morning it sang: There's a blue water, it lies there. I went in. I am all blue. On the fourth morning it shed all its feather and it came out of the lake in its bare skin, but on the fifth morning it came out with blue feathers. All this while Coyote had been watching the bird. He wanted to jump in and get it, but he was afraid of the water. Oh the fifth morning he said, "How is it that all your ugly color has come out and you are now blue and gay and beautiful? You're more beautiful than anything that flies in the air. I want to be blue too." Coyote was at this time a bright green. "I went in four times," said the bluebird, and taught Coyote the song. So Coyote went in four times, and the fifth time he came out as blue as the little bird. That made him feel very proud. As he walked along, he looked on every side to see if anyone was noticing how fine and blue he was. He looked to see if his shadow was blue too, and so he was not watching the road. Presently he ran into a stump so hard that it threw him down in the dirt, and he became dust colored all over. And to this day all coyotes are the color of dirt.

  • Tall TalesA tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, told as if it were true and factual. Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events, fish stories ('the fish that got away') such as, "that fish was so big, why I tell ya', it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!" Other tall tales are completely fictional tales in a familiar setting, such as the American Old West or the beginning of the Industrial Age. Tall tales are often told so as to make the narrator seem to have been a part of the story. They are usually humorous or witty. The line between myth and tall tale is distinguished primarily by age; many myths exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but in tall tales the exaggeration looms large, to the extent of becoming the whole of the story.

  • Tall TalesJohnny Appleseed - A friendly folk-hero who traveled the West planting apple trees because he felt his guardian angel told him to.Daniel Boone - Blazed a trail across Cumberland Gap to found the first English-speaking colonies west of the Appalachian Mountains.Aylett C. (Strap) Buckner - A Native American-fighter of colonial TexasPaul Bunyan - huge lumberjack who eats 50 pancakes in one minute Calamity Jane - A tough Wild West womanDavy Crockett - A pioneer and U.S. Congressman from Tennessee who later died at the Battle of the Alamo.

  • 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.What are myths?

  • Baucis and PhilemonMedusas HeadQuetzalcoatlDaedalus and IcarusMyths 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 foolishness

  • The brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm were German scholars known for their fairy tales and for their work in the study of different languages, which included the creation of "Grimm's law."

    The Grimm Brothers

    Jakob Karl Grimm was born on January 4, 1785, in Hanau, Germany. Wilhelm Karl Grimm, was born on February 24 of the following year.CinderellaHansel and GrethelLittle Red-CapThe Frog KingThe Golden GooseSnow White

  • Danish writer, famous for his fairy tales, which were not meant merely for children but for adults as well. Andersen used frequently colloquial style that disguises the sophisticated moral teachings of his tales. Before achieving success as a playwright and novelist, Andersen was trained as singer and actor.

    Many of Andersen's fairy tales depict characters who gain happiness in life after suffering and conflicts. 'The Ugly Duckling' and 'The Little Mermaid' are Andersen's most intimate works.

    "He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome." (from 'The Ugly Duckling')

    Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

  • Fiction or Nonfiction?Fairy tales, Myths, and Legends are located in the nonfiction section of the library.

    They are located in the 300s because they are a social science. Fairy tales, folk tales, and tall tales are traditional literature, stories that are so old, they have no known author.

  • Dewey Folklore300 = Social Science (Government, Police, Law, Education)390 = Customs, etiquette, folklore398 = Folklore398.2 = Folklore as literature398.21 = Fairy Tales - tales and lore of paranatural beings of human and semi human form (witches, centaurs, fairies, gods, goddesses, mermaids, vampires, wizards).398.22 = Legends and Myths (also 292) heroes, kings, ordinary people.398.24 = Tales and lore of plants and animals (fables)398.25 = Ghost stories


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