Folktales, Myths, and Legends

Folktales, Myths, and Legends

Introduction to Folklore Defining Folklore Folk derived from a Germanic noun folka meaning people. Lore - all traditions about a particular subject that have been accumulated over time. Folklore: stories and lessons that contain the traditions of a particular group or culture.

Folktales - Stories that are pure fiction - Have no particular location in time or place. - Usually, we dont know the original author. The Oral Tradition Passed by word of mouth from one person to the next, one generation to the

next. Never told the same twice. Oral Tradition Continued Folktales represent the wishes, hopes, and fears of many people rather than the concerns of one writer. They deal with universal human dilemmas that span across different ages, cultures, and geography.

History of oral folktales The oldest documentation of folktales as oral tradition is 202 AD in China. The purpose of these tales was to teach moral lessons to adults. France in the 1700s People began to write

the folktales down, but they were still for adults. King Louis XV hired writers to create short, entertaining tales with a clear moral. Germany 1800s Huge movement to collect oral tales, songs, and poems and

write them down. Germany was trying to establish a shared culture (didnt exist as a country yet). Grimm Brothers collected folktales and began to modify them for a younger audience. Why were these folktales so scary? These stories are about change

and the trials of everyday life. About ordinary people (not gods and heroes). Folktales have bestial and barbaric elements because life was harsh there were no modern conveniences. Ex: A broken leg could kill you. If you didnt now how to hunt, you could starve.

1835 Denmark Dutch writer Hans Christian Anderson also published a collection of folktales and fairytales for children in 1835. These tales were still quite dark and violent at times. Ex: The Ugly Duckling, the Little Mermaid, Emperors New

Clothes, The Little Match Girl. Disneyfication The next major shift occurred in the 1940s with Walt Disney. Disney took these same tales and sanitized them into the classic tales that we know today. He took out the violence and

darker aspects of the stories. Disney Continued The Formula Assigned roles: prince/princess Helpful animal sidekicks Young person who yearns for more Villain removed in the end

(happily ever after) Criticism Marketed as Disneys Little Mermaid. Varied the story and sold merchandise $$$ Copyright battles over some characters like Winnie the Pooh and Peter

Pan. Oversimplification of fear/ evil or love. Now, were seeing the pendulum swing back: folktales are being repackaged for adults again. Lenses in Literature: Structural As readers, well look at

the authors choices and effect of the message. Ex: Plot elements such as character, conflict, and setting. Lenses in Literature: Archetypal As readers, well pay attention to universal symbols that help us uncover meaning.

Ex: Patterns, character types, and images embedded in our stories. Lenses in Literature: Psychological As readers, well pay attention to the individuals in the story: their personality, identity, and emotions. Ex: In Rangers Apprentice, Will is

a boy who doesnt know where he belongs initially. Lenses in Literature: Sociological As readers, well pay attention to the rest of society in a story and the behavior of groups. Ex: Who is in charge and makes the rules?

What are the characteristics of males and females in this society? What groups are represented and which are not?

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