The Golden Bough | Study Guide

James George Frazer

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The Golden Bough | Chapter Summaries

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Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface–Chapter 2 James George Frazer states his book's main goal in the first sentence: "The primary aim of this book is to explain the... Read More
Chapter 3 Chapter 3 introduces the basic concepts of sympathetic magic, and includes four sections. 1. The Principles of M... Read More
Chapters 4–5 James George Frazer begins by comparing magic to science, holding that both are based on a faith in the "uniformity of... Read More
Chapters 6–8 James George Frazer notes that very successful public magicians "appear to have often developed into chiefs and kings.... Read More
Chapters 9–11 Chapter 9 commences the discussion of the worship of trees, and has two sections. 1. Tree-spirits James Ge... Read More
Chapters 12–14 Chapter 12 has two sections presenting the "sacred marriage" of male and female deities as representations of vegetati... Read More
Chapters 15–16 James George Frazer posits the chief deity for most of the Aryan people of Europe was "a god of the oak, the thunder, ... Read More
Chapters 17–18 Chapter 17 discusses the difficulties faced by royalty, particularly kings, in two sections. 1. Royal and Priest... Read More
Chapters 19–20 Chapter 19 has five sections, all of which discuss various prohibited or taboo acts. 1. Taboos on Intercourse wi... Read More
Chapters 21–22 Chapter 21 has 11 sections defining taboo and describing a variety of tabooed objects. 1. The Meaning of Taboo ... Read More
Chapters 23–24 James George Frazer recaps some of the main points he has set forth in the text, particularly the existence of divine ... Read More
Chapters 25–27 Chapter 25 gives an overview of cultures with a temporary king, from the King February of Cambodia to Siam's King Hop.... Read More
Chapter 28 Chapter 28 contains nine sections relating various versions of the custom of killing a tree-spirit, "the spirit of veg... Read More
Chapters 29–33 James George Frazer opens Chapter 29 by reviewing how the cycles of nature came to be tied to the belief in "the waxin... Read More
Chapters 34–37 Attis, sometimes identified with Adonis, was a god of vegetation in Phrygia, whose "death and resurrection were annual... Read More
Chapters 38–42 To open this chapter, James George Frazer notes Egyptian deity Osiris in one of his aspects was a personification of n... Read More
Chapters 43–45 James George Frazer relates the spread of the god Dionysus into Greece, with its "ecstatic worship, characterized by w... Read More
Chapters 46–47 Chapter 46 discusses variations on the Corn-mother in four sections. 1. The Corn-mother in America The spi... Read More
Chapters 48–49 Chapter 48 discusses the animal forms of the corn-spirit in Northern Europe in 10 sections. 1. Animal Embodiment... Read More
Chapters 50–52 Chapter 50 has three sections describing customs related to "eating the god." 1. The Sacrament of First-Fruits ... Read More
Chapters 53–54 Chapter 53 relates the custom of appeasing hunted or wild animals people kill for food, or in vengeance for the death ... Read More
Chapters 55–56 Chapter 55, in four sections, discusses how people attempted to transfer "disease, misfortune, and sin" away from them... Read More
Chapters 57–58 Chapter 57 discusses public scapegoats in four sections. 1. The Expulsion of Embodied Evils James George F... Read More
Chapters 59–61 In Chapter 59 James George Frazer relates the Aztec custom of "sacrificing the human representative of a god" in annua... Read More
Chapter 62 Chapter 62 has eight sections that relate annual fire festivals held throughout Europe at specific times of the year. ... Read More
Chapters 63–65 James George Frazer offers insights on fire festivals in three sections. 1. On the Fire-festivals in general ... Read More
Chapters 66–67 James George Frazer revisits the idea the soul may exist outside the body and "still continue to animate him by virtue... Read More
Chapters 68–69 Chapter 68 brings the reader to the main subject of the book, the legend behind the Golden Bough and its relation to t... Read More
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