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“A dream is a personal experience of that deep, dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is
the society’s dream.
The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth.
If your private myth, your dream,
happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group.
If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in
the dark forest ahead of you.”
Power of Myth
I. Overview: Definitions
. An anonymous story having roots in primitive folk-beliefs of races or nations. Con-
tains supernatural episodes that interpret natural events in an effort to make concrete and particular
a special perception of humankind or a cosmic view. The
is not necessarily a
it’s more like a floating tale. In
the myth is the raw material for the play, not the play itself.
Typical concerns: Myths may explain creation of world and man & woman, account for natural
phenomena (rising and setting of sun, alternation of seasons, death); god and religion, the meaning of
life, adventures of racial heroes.
: discovers fire, teaches arts & crafts (tool-making, pottery,
—an explanation of causes, of how things came to be (why there is death,
Similar groups of motifs, characters and actions
: primordial image, descriptive detail,
plot pattern, character type
Odysseus the wily adventurer, Penelope the faithful wife.
“Myth” can mean “fiction,” lie,” but we’ll use “myth” to describe dramatic or narrative embodi-
ments of a people’s perception of their deepest truths (Thrall & Hibbard,
A Handbook to Literature
Less historical background and more of the supernatural than
. Less concerned with moral
didacticism than is
. Besides, a myth is generally a product of a
, not an individual person.
Wider scope, greater significance, stronger sense of the supernatural than
Joseph Campbell: myths are “metaphorical of spiritual potentiality in the human being, and the
same powers that animate our life animate the life of the world (
Power of Myth
Paul Moyers: We
tell myths to try to come to terms with the, to harmonize our lives with reality.” Some myths,
lical tradition, relate you to your nature, a particular society, or the natural world (
Campbell: Every mythology offers the wisdom of life as it relates to a specific time and culture.
It integrates the individual person into his or her society and the society into the field of nature. It
of nature with
nature. The one great story is our search “to be in accord with the
grand symphony that this world is, to put the harmony of our own body in accord w/that harmony”
: Unrecorded traditions of the common people as they appear in popular fiction, cus-
tom and belief, magic and ritual. Includes myths, legends, stories, charms, ballads, cowboy songs,