British Studies Web Pages
Myths, Legends, Fantasy...
Views from Teachers
We asked a number of Polish British Studies Lecturers what they understood by myths, legends, folk and fairy tales. This is what they said:
Myths explain natural facts; when something is created by particular circumstances or there is a repeated phenomena, people look for explanations
They are a type of narrative which is usually part of popular consciousness, a way of explaining the world which forms part of religious beliefs
Something popularly thought to be true but which isn’t, although it might have an element of truth in it
Myths strengthen national identity
Myths provide a certain link to the past, a common-sense knowledge of our society; they are stories with a message, part of our cultural heritage
They are based on religious rites and passages and explain spiritual beliefs
They are something belonging to the past but have nothing to do with our present life
Myths aren’t really known in today’s society
In Poland there are modern myths, such as the idea of America as a place where you can find dollars on the street, or the myth of Britannia
Can you think of modern myths either about Poland or Britain?
Are there people from these countries who have been ‘mythologised’?
Are the purposes of modern myths the same as those of ancient ones?
A legend is a kind of story which is fictional with elements of truth. Its purpose is to explain the origin of something old, like the ‘Devil’s Claw’ legend from Lublin
A fictional story about fictional characters, like Smok Wawelski
A common belief related to a certain person or event, like Wanda, Robin Hood, or Boudicca
They explain the origins of towns or places…handed down orally at first, but going through reinterpretation due to the variety of written versions
A story circulating amongst people which has roots in truth, but then has its own life which develops over time
A type of icon, a type of narrative, a figure of renown or fame who becomes popular in the public imagination, like Marilyn Monroe or the Battle of Grunwald
Legends transmit values and cultural heritage
A story for children which is never true
A fictional story for children with a message
It is always about something that never happened and has a happy ending
Stories full of magic, princesses, and strange things
A blood-curdling story for young children which involves violence, cruelty, horror, and a happy ending for the goodies
Sources of quotations: Anna Gonerko-Frej (Szczecin); Grzegorz Wlazlak (Zabrze); Agnieszka Chabros (Toruń); Anna Kosiarz-Stolarska (Kraków); Ewa Rogowska-Tylman (Łowicz); Zbigniew Mazur (Lublin); Krzysztof Brzozowski (Opole); Zdzisław Dudek (Legnica); Ewa Newerle-Wolska (Krosno), Mariusz Brymora (Radom); Andrzej Diniejko (Kielce); Małgorzata Zdybiewska-Garbacik (Radom); Peter Whiley (Ciechanów); Melanie Ellis (Katowice)
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