The Epic

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					The Myth, the Hero, and
       the Epic

                        Mr. Hill
                Pre-AP English I
The Myth

 Abstract reality
 Religious communication of pagan
 Specific accounts of gods and
 Falsehood or fable

   The study of myth and/or
    forsaken mythos

   A belief system (usually one still

   Two broad approaches to the
    study of Myth:
    – Comparative: the comparison of
      similarities and differences between
      or among belief systems
    – Particularist: breaking down
      individual myth systems and
      analyzing them
Functions of Myth

 Instills a sense of awe and/or
 Explains the world

 Maintains a culture‟s social
Categories of Myth

   Pure Myth:
    – A form of primitive science that uses
      religious stories or explain
      phenomenon and nature as/well/as
      demonstrates man‟s relationship to
      God or the gods. Often it answers
      the big “why” questions.
Categories of Myth

   Heroic Myth
    – Involve primitive forms of history;
      the most important function of
      heroic myth is the establishment of
      a glorious past for a people and to
      set forth the near-perfect example
      of how they should live (teaches
Archetype & the
Collective Unconscious
   Brought into literary criticism by Carl
    Jung (Swiss Psychologist)
    – Holds that, behind each individual‟s
      „unconscious‟ (the blocked-off residue of
      the past) lies the „collective unconscious‟
      of the human race (the blocked-off
      memory of our racial past, even of our
      pre-human experience.
Archetype & the
Collective Unconscious
   This unconscious racial memory makes
    powerfully effective for us a group of
    „primordial images‟ shaped by the
    repeated experience of our ancestors
    and expressed in myths, religion,
    dreams, fantasies, and literature.

   So therefore, a reader would use the
    term archetype for any image or
    pattern or character type that occurs
    frequently in literature, myth, religion,
    folklore. It would evoke a strong
    response in us.

   Examples: the cruel stepmother; the
    half human, half animal creature; the
    beautiful garden; the hero; the beast
    who yearns for the love a a beauty;
    the fall from innocence and initiation
    into life.
Character Archetypes

   Hero: Embodies the values of a
    society and gives an example for
    proper behavior
Hero: the Primitive Hero

   Usually a slayer of monsters or
    other ghastly menaces
Hero: the Primitive Hero

   Examples: Beowulf, Conan, Ripley
    from Alien
Hero: the Warrior Hero

   Fights for personal glory and/or a
    dying or doomed culture or cause
    – Has no fear of death
    – Lives by a rigid code of conduct
    – Seeks to create or revive a society
Hero: the Warrior Hero

   Examples:
    – Achilles
    – Rambo
    – King Arthur
    – Hercules
    – William Wallace?
Hero: the Metaphysical
   On a quest for enlightenment or
    an unusual, very spiritual journey.
    The conflict is against himself as
    he conquers selfish urges and
    undergoes great temptation.
Hero: the Metaphysical
Examples from fiction?
Examples from history?
Common Hero Patterns

   Born under unusual circumstances
   Son/daughter of a great king or deity
   Marked for greatness by prophesy or
    physical trait
   While young-exiled or placed in harm‟s
    way in an attempt to be killed
Common Hero Patterns

   Must prove his “royal” claim by test or
   Accomplishes great deeds for his
   Mysterious or ambiguous death
   A suggestion or promise that the hero
    will someday return to reward or
Other Archetypes

   Helpers
    – The hero‟s “sidekick;” usually has
      his own abilities but somehow lacks
      the necessary traits of being a hero
Other Archetypes

   Mentor
    –“wise old man”; gives the hero
     wisdom and often has trained
     for helped the hero develop his
Other Archetypes

   Good (or Earth) Mother
    – Opposite the Femme Fatale; she
      possess all the positive aspects of
      life (protection, warmth, nurturing,
Other Archetypes

   Femme Fatale
    – “Deadly Lady”; a temptress who
      seeks to destroy the Hero or keep
      him from completing this mission
      (often is truly attracted to the hero
      and vice versa).
Other Archetypes

   Father Figure
    – Represents all that the hero is trying
      to attain or find in his search
    – Or
    – Possess or is involved in a secret
      that can change the hero‟s destiny
Other Archetypes

   Trickster
    – Many times a “helper” to the hero
    – Although he/she may often cause
      problems or “mess things up,”
      he/she does not want to hurt the
Other Archetypes

 Nemesis
 – The hero‟s “sworn enemy” who
   oftentimes is the reason for many of
   the hero‟s trials, adventures, and
 – The nemesis is a perfect adversary
   for the hero, usually evenly matched
   in ability yet opposite in
   temperament or values.
Other Archetypes

 Nemesis
 – He hero can never seem to destroy
   his nemesis; he merely banishes or
   imprisons him for a short time.
The Hero’s Journey

   Three Stages (after separation)
    – Departure
    – Initiation
    – Return
The Hero’s Journey

   Departure
    – The Call to Adventure
    – Refusal of the Call
    – Supernatural Aid
    – Crossing the Threshold
    – The Belly of the Whale

   The Call to Adventure
    – The hero‟s impulse to embark upon the
    – May reject the call
    – Encounters a helper (who sometimes has
      a magical charm, supernatural aid) to aid
      in the quest

   Crossing the Threshold
    – Hero must pass from the safety of the
      ordinary world into a hazardous realm of
      the unknown, such as a desert, jungle, or
      an alien land (the belly of the whale)

   The Belly of the Whale
    – A “shadow presence” guards the entrance
      tot his dark realm.
    – The hero can only cross the threshold by
      defeating the shadow presence or by
      confronting death in some way.
    – The confrontation may take the form or a
      real or symbolic dismemberment
    – It always ends in either the hero‟s
The Hero’s Journey

   Initiation
    – Road of Trials
    – Meeting with the Goddess
    – Temptation
    – Atonement with the Father Figure
    – Reward
    – The Ultimate Boon

   The Road of Trials
    – Tests and ordeals
   Meeting with goddess
   Tempted by evil temptress
   Passes the Supreme test

   Atonement with the Father Figure
    – The hero reconciles/makes
      amends/reunites with the father

   Reward-A hero is rewarded with:
      A  marriage
       Recognition by a deity

       Transformation into a deity
       Attainment of a miraculous elixir

   The Ultimate Boon
    – After receiving the reward, the hero
      wins an important victory
The Hero’s Journey

   The Return
    – Refusal of the Return
    – The Magical Flight
    – Rescue from Without
    – Crossing of the Threshold
    – Master of Two Worlds
    – Freedom to Live
The Epic

   Long story told in elevated language
    (usually poetry), which relates the
    great deeds of a larger-than-life hero
    who embodies the values of a
    particular society.
    – Most epics include elements of myth,
      legend, folk tale, and history.
    – Tone is serious and language is grand

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