The Development of Narrative
What is Narrative ?
Folklore is narrative typically concerned with the mundane traditions of everyday life but it evolves as an enunciation of the dominant beliefs of the time. As the beliefs became more entrenched in the collective psyche, certain folklore stories gained importance for their moral message.
Storytellers passed on stories learned from others creating a distance between the person who actually witnessed the story and the teller. Certain stories became distinguished from a chronicle as the telling became more formal and structured. The transformation gave stories a moral definition that lifted them above the banality of average human life and a universality that made them worth repeating through many generations as legends.
A legend (from Latin, legenda, 'things to be read ') is a narrative of human actions perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. No events occur outside the realm of the possible - anything perceived to actually have happened. This may include unexplainable events such as miracles. Although a legend has some historical or geographical connection, it may attach imaginary events to real persons.
Legends that exceed these boundaries of 'realism' are called fables. Fable comes from Latin, fabula, meaning 'conversation', 'narrative', 'tale'. Although fables originate in the narrative of human history and are presented in a conversational tone, they have become figurative or fictional stories. In a rigorous sense, a fable is a folk tale embodying a moral, which may be expressed explicitly at the end as a maxim. Human characters are often transformed metaphorically as animals that personify humans and interact with humans as equals. Inanimate objects may also be personified.
As societies evolved, they developed moral and ethical concepts as guides to acceptable behaviour. Storytelling became an essential vehicle for transmission of these moral and ethical concepts, particularly in oral, non-literate societies. As stories were passed down through generations, the concept of sacred developed and myths evolved.
Myths (from Greek mythos, meaning 'story, legend' ) are stories arranged in a coherent system (a mythos) that express spiritual or religious concepts through the adventures of supernatural, divine or heroic beings. These characters appear less interwoven with remembered history than those of legends. Often the forces of nature and of the soul are personified as in fables. Persons may also be transformed metaphorically as animals or inanimate objects.
Myths have existed in all cultures since before recorded history. Mythic stories often begin by explaining creation, inexplicable natural phenomena, cultural conventions and anything else for which there is no simple explanation.
Although myths have been considered to be fabulations, modern research had discovered many correlations between mythological accounts and actual historical events. In fact a method of interpretation, known as euhemerism, treats mythological accounts as a reflection of historical events shaped by retelling and transformation that give natural events supernatural characteristics.
Myths are considered to be sacred because they are believed to be true by people who attach religious or spiritual significance to them. As societies became literate, moral and ethical concepts of became codified and recorded in the written narrative of sacred texts such as the Bible, the Koran and the Vedic texts.
The ability to create fiction is frequently cited as one of the defining characteristics of humanity. Fiction (from the Latin fingere, 'to form, to create') is a story of imagined events that make no claims about reality. The appeal of fiction is its ability to evoke the entire spectrum of human emotions through imagined narrative. The source material for imagination can be as superficial as current memories and as deep rooted a Freudian archetypes and Jungian symbolism.
Fiction is created in large part as entertainment, although not all fiction is necessarily created for divertissement. Fiction may be created for the purpose of educating or as propaganda and advertising.
Fiction, may over time, blend with factual accounts and develop into legends and myths. Contemporary folklore includes fictional stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. People frequently recite these urban legends saying that they happened to a 'friend of a friend'. This apparent accountability adds force to the narrative by personalization. The way these stories are propagate demonstrates that people take urban legends to be true instead of recognizing them as tall tales or unsubstantiated rumours.
Urban legends are framed as stories, with plots and characters. They are often just extended jokes, told as if they were true events. The events are not necessarily untrue, but they are often distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized. Urban legends are often born of fears and insecurities and many are presented as warnings or cautionary tales. Like traditional legends, some urban legends also concern unexplained phenomena. The compelling nature of theses stories and their mystery, horror, or humour are what makes them so attractive.
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