Table of Contents What is Myth? Myth and Truth The Cauldron of Story The Three Faces of Myth Archetypes & The Hero’s Journey Mythical Elements from… Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire Mulan The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings The Golden Compass Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
WHAT IS MYTH? Myths are… WHO?: Constant among all humans in all times. WHAT?: The “glue” that holds societies together; basis for morality, government, & national identity WHEN?: The thread that holds past, present, & future together. WHY?: Essential ingredient in all codes of conduct; patterns of beliefs that give meaning to life. (Bierlein, p. 5) A traditional story about heroes or supernatural beings, often explaining the origins of a natural phenomena or aspects of human behavior (Dickerson & O’Hara).
WHAT IS MYTH? (CONT.) Myth is part of a broader body of literature, with fantasy & fairy tales, called Fäerie Fay-ry - the realm of the Fay (a broad range of creatures, not just fairies: elves, dwarves, goblins, etc.) (Tolkien). Fairies, Goblins and Dwarfs by Howard David Johnson, 2007
FäerieMythHeroic Legend & Fantasy Fairy Tales Geography Historical Scope Significance Character Type Meaning Fäerie is a broad continuum, with myth on one side and fairy tales on the other, and heroic tales and fantasy falling somewhere in between (Dickerson & O’Hara, pp. 26 – 28). What is Myth? (cont.)
FäerieMythHeroic Legend & Fantasy Fairy Tales Geographywhole worlds or other worlds a kingdom or realma single cottage, village, or wood Historical Scopetimeless; may span centuries Span a few months to a few years in a mater of a few days Significanceaffect the whole history of the world whole kingdoms are affected; large cast of characters affects one to a handful of characters Character TypeGodsHeroesEveryday people MeaningEndless re-readings; can be understood on many levels Moral or easily grasped theme What is Myth? (cont.) MythFairy TaleLegend
MYTH AND TRUTH From Hercules to Harry Potter Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy by François Lemoyne, 1737
MYTH AND TRUTH The word myth has come to mean a story which is untrue. “Myth may be true. Any myth that has survived centuries certainly contains truth. However, myth and history are not at odds, nor are myth and truth.” Muthos (Greek) = word or speech, or logos = an account through reason Later, both came to mean "an account or story" or an account of what was true Later, muthos - an account through story; logos - an account through reason Plato's time – fictionalized account; muthoi - philosophical ideas (K. C. Davis, p. 11; Dickerson & O’Hara, pp. 30 - 32) If you believe in fairies, clap your hands!
MYTH AND TRUTH (CONT.) “The truth of myth does not depend on history or language. The truth of myth stands beyond history, enters history, and informs history.” Realistic fiction contains truth about human nature, the nature of God or gods, love, or the absolute corrupting power of the one Ring. Myth holds an objective truth that is independent of any time, place, or culture. The truth of myth or fairy tales is through self recognition. Myth reaches people in general; universal and transcends culture. Myth is how we comprehend our own experience. (Bierlein, p. 5; Dickerson & O’Hara, pp. 35 – 36; Neal, pp. 14 - 15) Harry Potter – The Mirror of Erised, Mary GrandPre
THE CAULDRON OF STORY From Hercules to Harry Potter
The Cauldron of Story (Tolkien) Story is a soup containing bones Soup = story Bones = “its sources and material” Ladle = author Cauldron = massive kettle containing all of Story ever been told Ingredients = history, myths, legends, fairy tales The pot has “always been boiling, and to it have continually been added new bits,” savory or unsavory History Legend Fairy Tale Author serves up their story
THE THREE FACES OF MYTH AND FÄERIE From Hercules to Harry Potter
THREE FACES OF MYTH AND FÄERIE (TOLKIEN) Three elements of reality: natural, supernatural, and man (Dickerson & O’Hara, p. 42) 1. Mythical toward the supernatural A world of angels & demons & a supreme being Fairy tales depend on the supernatural Supernatural remain in the background Viewed with a sense of mystery & awe
2. Magical toward Nature (Dickerson & O’Hara, p. 43) Most important in the definition of myth Nature is magical (Trees can move, speak, defend themselves, get angry) Does not deny science but it does deny that science is the only way to understand nature THREE FACES OF MYTH AND FÄERIE (TOLKIEN) Treebeard and the Hobbits by Per Sjogren, 2003
3. The mirror of scorn and pity (mercy) towards man (Dickerson & O’Hara, pp. 48 – 49) Sorrow & the desire to see restoration (e.g., Gandalf to Frodo re: Gollum, “It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand.”) We pity ourselves as a race We pity ourselves as individuals We feel regret and remorse for our own actions We feel sympathy for the perpetrators as well as the victims We hope for redemption & justice (e.g., Frodo must hope Gollum can be Smeagol; Luke must have faith Vader can be Anakin again) THREE FACES OF MYTH AND FÄERIE (TOLKIEN)