2 JournalMake a list of the different people you have known, heard about, or read about who can be considered heroes. Describe one specific example of each of the following types of heroes:A legendary or mythical person who performs great deedsSomeone who helps others on a daily basisA person who makes a personal sacrifice in order to help othersA courageous individual with a dangerous jobA character in literature or a real person whose determination led to great accomplishments
3 Oral TraditionIn the ORAL TRADITION, storytellers pass along stories by word of mouth, preserving shared cultural VALUES.By giving memorable, moving examples of heroes and monsters, of deeds good and bad, the oral tradition helped a culture answer questions such as “What should I be like?” and “What should I do?”Express THEMES- insights about life and human nature.
4 Oral TraditionAn important source of these themes is the CULTURAL EXPERIENCE of the storytellers— their core values and concerns.Expresses UNIVERSAL THEMES, or truths about life that are meaningful to people of all times and places.
5 ArchetypesARCHETYPES-characters, situations, images, and symbols that recur in the narratives of all cultures.ARCHETYPAL CHARACTERS-WISE AND VIRTUOUS RULER-whose reign brings in a golden age, or time of peace and prosperityDREAMER OR TRANSGESSOR- a character who imagines new possibilities and defies danger to bring an important gift to societyHERO- an unpromising youth who triumphs over stronger forces through cleverness or virtue and blossoms into a wise, strong, and courageous leader.
6 Archetypes ARCHETYPAL PATTERNS- The struggle between the PROTAGONIST and ANTAGONIST, a person or force that opposes the protagonist.A series of tests that a character must passA quest or task that a character must completeCharacters, events, or objects that come in threesA fair and just end that rewards good or punishes evil.*** The use of archetypal patterns likely made stories easier to remember and retell.
7 Forms and Characteristics of the Oral Tradition Do not express an individual author’s POINT OF VIEW---Instead, stories in these forms tend to express the shared VALUES, or model behaviors, attitudes, cherished by the society from which they originated.
8 Narrative Forms in the Oral Tradition MYTHSExplains the actions of gods and their interactions with humansMay explain the causes of natural phenomena or the origins of cultural traditionsFOLK TALESDeal with heroic acts, adventures, magic, or romance; often concern the relationship between mortals and godsFocus on human or animal heroes
9 Narrative Forms in the Oral Tradition LEGENDSAre folk tales about larger-than-life heroes and events from the pastOften are based on historical fact, with factual details becoming exaggerated and fictionalized over timeFAIRY TALESAre simple folk tales, usually told to entertain small childrenInclude magic or supernatural elements
10 Narrative Forms in the Oral Tradition EPICSAre long narrative poems that use elevated language and extended, elaborate comparisons of unlike subjects called epic similesCombine features of myths and legendsDescribe the adventures of larger-than-life epic heroes, who are important to the history of their culturesOften tell of the heroes’ journeys or quests, on which the heroes are helped or hindered by gods and other supernatural creaturesOften begin with the poet’s mention of the subject and a plea to a divine being for inspiration and guidance in the telling of the tale
11 Analyzing ThemeA literary work develops a THEME, or central message or insight, which may be UNIVERSAL or CULTURALLY SPECIFIC.The theme is usually implied, or indirectly expressed, by the arrangements of story elements.
12 Development of Theme Story Element Development of Theme Characters: One brother is selfish. The other is generous.This contrast between characters encourages you to focus on ideas of selfishness and generosity.Conflict: The selfish brother is robbed, but none of his friends will help him because he is mean-spirited.Selfishness is connected to a bad outcome—it deprives a person of the help of others. This connection refines the theme.Plot: The kind brother lends the selfish brother the money he needs.The contrast between selfishness and generosity is reinforced.Character’s Insight: The selfish brother thanks the kind brother and begs his forgiveness.This insight further develops the idea that it is better to be generous than selfish.
13 Theme and Cultural Experience Pandora’s Box: When Zeus created Pandora, he bestowed many wonderful gifts on her, including a box that he told her never to open. However, among her other gifts was curiosity, which caused Pandora to open the box. When she did, all the previously unknown evils and horrors of the world escaped.Universal Themes:Unbridled curiosity can lead to trouble.We must follow the rules or deal with the consequences.
14 Theme and Cultural Experience Culturally Specific Themes:It is risky for mortals to ignore the gods.The gods know what is best for mortals.
15 Shifting Points of View As stories were passed down through the oral tradition, story details changed as the point of view of the authors changed.
16 Example: Snow WhiteBecause the Queen is jealous of her stepdaughter, the beautiful Snow White, she plots to kill her.German Version: “Little Snow White”-retold by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, based on original Old World tales.Point of View: Reflects the cruel, chaotic, and violent medieval view of the world.Details: The Queen asks a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods, kill her, and bring back her liver and lungs, which are to be served for dinner. In the end, the Queen dances herself to death at Snow White’s wedding in a pair of burning hot iron shoes.
17 Example: Snow WhiteEnglish Version: “Snow Drop”—retold by Edgar Taylor in 1823.Point of View: Reflects a softer, kinder view of the world.Details: The Queen asks a huntsman to take Snow Drop away but does not request proof of the girl’s death. Snow Drop dies from eating a poisoned apple, but revives when the chunk of apple falls from her mouth. In the end, the Queen dies after choking with anger at Snow Drop’s wedding.
18 Clues to ThemeSettingThe setting—the time and place of the story—may help to develop the theme in a number of ways. As you read, ask yourself:How does setting shape the characters’ choices? What problems arise there?What does the setting suggest about life? For example, is life in the setting a struggle? Is it stagnant? Is it superficial?
19 Clues to Theme Characters: To determine theme, consider the qualities, interactions, and fates of characters. Ask yourself:What are the characters like, as revealed by what they say, do, or think?How do the characters interact?What does the main character learn from, or how is he or she changed by events?
20 Clues to Theme Cultural Context and Point of View: The cultural context of a story, or the traditions, beliefs, and historical experiences of characters, can help shape its theme. Cultural context also helps shape the author’s point of view, or attitudes and beliefs. Ask yourself:Which clues indicate the author’s or characters’ cultural background?What values, customs, and beliefs do characters embrace or encounter?Which details suggest the author’s point of view on a topic? What is this point of view?
21 Clues to Theme Conflict and Plot: A plot is powered by a conflict, or struggle between opposing forces. To determine theme, consider the ideas emphasized by the plot. Ask yourselfWhat conflict do the characters face?How is the conflict resolved?What insights do characters have, or what lessons does the resolution teach?
22 Clues to Theme Statements and Observations: Sometimes, a work includes a statement by a character or by the narrator that suggests or illuminates the theme. As you read, ask yourself:Which statements, if any, sum up and express a judgment about story events?Which statements, if any, express an insight about people or life based on story events?
23 Clues to Theme Archetypal Elements: Archetypes are character, types, plot patterns, images, and symbols that recur in the narratives of all cultures. Because they often have strong, constant meanings, they can serve as clues to theme. As you read, ask yourself:Which character types and plot patterns, if any, have I encountered in other literature? Which of these are archetypes?What view of or lesson about life does each archetype suggest? (For example, the appearance of an archetypal hero suggests a theme of good triumphing over evil.)
24 MythsMYTHS are stories that are part of the oral tradition: Before being written down, they were told and retold from one generation to the next. Myths reflect the cultures of the people who originated and shared them.Some myths explain a natural phenomenon or a specific custom by describing its origins, or how it came to be. These myths reveal the beliefs of ancient cultures.Myths include characters with exceptional characteristics such as strength, bravery, or wisdom. These traits emphasize qualities that the culture admired or feared.
25 MythsSome myths tell of a quest, or search, for knowledge or a valued object. These myths reveal what was important to the culture.Other myths tell of a transgression, or the violation of a rule. By example, these myths teach the values of the culture.
26 Analyzing Cultural Context The cultural context of any literary work refers to the set of values, beliefs, customs, traditions, and shared experiences that define a society. To understand a myth, analyze cultural context, or determine ways in which the myth reflects the perspectives of those who told it.
27 JournalGenerate a list of at least five real or fictional heroes. Choose one hero, and describe what makes that person heroic.
28 JournalDoes a person have to have extraordinary abilities to be a hero? Think of at least three qualities you think a hero must have, and write a job description for the position of “hero.”
29 JournalEvery culture has people in its history or stories that are considered especially strong or wise. What can we learn about a culture by learning about its heroes?
30 JournalSome fictional characters remind us of people we know. Compare a fictional hero to a hero you know. How are the heroes alike? How are they different?