Definition – Examples – Hallmarks
Hello Lovelies, and welcome to the blog. Last week, we talked all about the difference between myths and legends, because they are very often lumped together, yet myths and legends are two separate folk tale subgenres. This week, I want to go more specifically into the genre of myth, and give you some examples of the hallmarks that make up a myth.
A myth is a traditional story that explains the beliefs of a people about the natural and human world. The main characters in myths are usually gods or supernatural heroes. The stories are set in the distant past. The people who told these stories believed that they were true.
Some examples of myths include the tales of Maui, the Hawaiian demigod that created the Hawaiian Islands by fishing them out of the ocean, or the genderfluid trickster shapeshifter god Loki from the Norse traditions who is one day destined to fight against the gods in the final battle of Ragnarok and slay the fearsome Heimdall.
Hallmarks of a Myth
Myths feature two things very prominently:
- A larger-than-life hero, usually supernatural like a god or goddess.
- An exploration of the natural world.
The Greek myths that you probably learned in school are a great example. If you think back to your favorite story, what does it try to tell you?
Persephone went down to the underworld and ate six pomegranate seeds, the food of the dead. Because of this, she was punished to stay in the underworld for six months out of the year. During those six months, her mother, the goddess Demeter, who controls the harvest and the general fertility of the earth, mourns her daughter’s loss, and protests it by making the land barren. Thus, we have the seasons of Autumn and Winter. When Persephone returns, Demeter rejoices and brings the harvest back to life, thus we have the seasons of Spring and Summer.
Myths and legends are often lumped together as if synonymous, yet they are two distinct categories of genre. If you still feel a little bit confused, don’t worry. We will also be looking at legends very soon.
- What is your favorite folk tale subgenre?
- Do you have a favorite myth or legend?
- What genre is your favorite to read in, and do you write in the same genre or a different one?
- What is the most important reason writers should be aware of genre and its conventions?
- What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?
Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!