Friday, January 12, 2024

Folklore Friday: Folktales, Fairytales, Folklore, and Mythology Oh My!


With all of these terms floating around it's hard to know what each one means and if you ask a hundred people then you'll likely get a hundred different answers. 

From a literature perspective, which is where I come from these things have definitions. However, I find that often times folklorists do not include themselves under the literary umbrella. 

In literature, all of these things fall under the main umbrella of literature. But they vary slightly in what their primary purpose is. 

Folklore is the overarching broad category that encompasses mythology, folktales, fairytales, legends, and tall tales.

In the genre of Mythology, the cast is often gods and goddesses while also containing an explanation for a natural phenomenon most of the time. Religions are mythologies with the pantheon accounting for creation of things in nature on and on Earth. 

Folktales are largely an oral tradition that scholars are seeking to put in written form so that they are not lost. These are often rooted in historical reality. 

Fairytales are a genre of folklore that is a magical story usually with a poor heroine or hero that goes through a trial or testing period in exchange for an eventual good fortune. 

Legends are another genre of folklore that revolve around human actions rather than gods and goddesses that appear in myths. Legends are often questioned as to whether or not they actually happened and if they are grounded in reality and history. This characteristic is called verisimilitude. 

Finally, we have tall tales. Tall Tales feature a human with exaggerated superhuman characteristics. This person usually completes an impossible task. 

These are all a part of literature and the subcategory of folklore within the literary world. Literature does encompass more than standard literary works to include oral traditions which I think can be confusing to those who have not studied literature extensively or at the graduate level. 

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