Folklore Narratives

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					Folklore Narratives

  Myths and Legends
    Myths and Legends
These narratives are regarded as
true or as having a high
probability of being true by the
tellers of such stories. There is
also a presumption that the
hearers within the folk group will
accept the stories as true.
   Myths are traditional prose narratives, which
    within the folk group “are considered to be
    truthful accounts of what happened in the remote
   They often deal with the activities of gods and
    demigods, the creation of the world and its
    inhabitants, and the origins of religious rituals.
   When such myths explain “such matters as
    origins of geographic features, animal traits, rites,
    taboos, and customs, they are known as
    explanatory or etiological narratives.”
It is important to remember that myths, like
other forms of folklore, must be handed on
informally, by word of mouth, in order to meet
the standards of folklore. Therefore, the Adam
and Eve story, or the story of the flood, as they
are taught in formal Sunday school settings
would not qualify as myths. They come from
literary sources and are passed on in formal
instruction with little variation. Religious stories
in cultures which are non-literate would be
more likely to be myths.
Myths: Theories of Origin
 Polygenesis: this is the view that similar
  myths in various cultures (e.g.,the flood
  myth) arose independently in various folk
 Diffusion: this is the view that there must
  have been one primary source for the
  variant myths, which was transmitted to
  other regions and in the process
  developed variants.
Myths: Analytical Approaches

  Muller’s Solar Mythology: myths are
   essentially accounts of the recurrence of
   night and day
  Cultural Evolution: myths are survivals
   from an earlier “savage state” of civilization
  Psychoanalytical: using myths to examine
   the unconscious and subconscious, looking
   for Oedipal, phallic, and other kinds of
 While myths are told to validate religious
  rites and beliefs in a primitive culture,
  legends are often used to validate
  superstitions in modern folklore.
 Legends are generally secular.
 Legends are told as occurring in the
  historical past, even the recent past.
 Legends are often migratory, widely
  known in different places.
          Legend Types
 Religious
 Supernatural
 Urban Belief Tales
 Personal
 Anecdotes
      Religious Legends
 Saints’ stories
 Miraculous answers to prayers
 Three Nephite stories
 Temple appearances
 Etiological stories
  Supernatural Legends
Ghost stories
      Urban Belief Tales
 Cement car
 Vanishing hitchhiker
 Microwaved poodle (or cat)
 Woman baked in tanning machine
 AIDS infection
 Blue star halucinogenic
 Gangs flashing lights
 Mrs. Fields’ cookie recipe
 Black man in the elevator
 King Arthur
 George Washington
 Davy Crockett
Short, personal stories about local
characters (sometimes memorates)
  –Down’s Syndrome person with coins
  –Mental Hospital inmate (tire lug nuts)
      Classification of Myths and
   Stith Thompson’s Motif-Index of Folk Literature:
    This is a multi-volume work which classifies the
    narrative elements or Motifs found in folk material.
   Divisions include references to items such as the
    following: Creator, Gods, Demigods and culture
    heroes, Topographical features of the earth,
    Creation of animal life, etc.
   It is broken down even further, for example under
    Creation of man, you would find Emergence or
    descent of first man to earth, Man made from
    mineral substance, Man made from vegetable
    substance, Primeval human pair, etc.