Difference Between Myths and Folktales (With Table)

The distinction between myth and folktale is very sleek, almost razor-thin. Myths and folktales, on the other hand, are fiction categories in any society. As they display their lives, religious convictions, and rituals, as well as their imaginative power of people, they are indicative of the culture and traditions of a group. So despite the similarities in their genres, there are some points of distinction between them.

Myths vs Folktales

The difference between myth and folktale is that a myth is a conventional or legendary story that usually explains some historical fact or religious principle. On the other hand, a folktale is a fictional story that has been passed down through generations. Myths frequently feature deities, demi-gods, and otherworldly beings, whereas folktales frequently feature ordinary people, animals, and even magical creatures.

A myth is a powerful symbolic story based on a tradition or religious belief. Its original word means ‘story.’ Even if it does not necessarily recount a true event, a myth transmits a truth about the universe or humans to its audience. As a result, in a myth, the significance of the narrative’s events is more significant than the happenings themselves.

A folktale is a story that has been passed down orally through ages. Folktales are stories or tales told by ordinary folks. Therefore they are passed on from our ancestors to us and expected to continue the same way through ages. Folktales are stories that are for the delight of the audience while simultaneously teaching them a lesson about their morality and societal ethics. Folktales from various civilizations are diverse and unique.

Comparison Table Between Myths and Folktales

Parameters of ComparisonMyths Folktales
MeaningA conventional story that explains to the spectator a historical or spiritual phenomenon.A fictional story that is intended to delight the audience while also teaching them a valuable lesson.
Passed on byTypically passed down through religious scholars and priests.Passed from ordinary people.
CharactersGenerally spiritual and religious beings such as deities, demi-gods, and otherworldly creatures.Characters are mostly regular folk, beasts, and occasionally magical creatures.
ImportanceMyths frequently teach morals and convey a religious or spiritual message.Mostly provide pleasure, but they can also convey a valuable life lesson.
Example Legends of Adam and Eve, Thor, Hercules, Icarus, Odin, Achilles. Aladdin, Hansel, and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs, The Pied Piper.

What are Myths?

A myth is a strongly symbolic story based on culture or religious convictions.’ Even if it does not necessarily recount a true event, a myth transmits facts about the universe or humans to its audience.

As a result, myth explains the origins of the world, natural occurrences such as birth and death, and human situations such as pain and faults, among other things. The origin of these tales is unknown even though we know that they can be traced back to the classical era. They have been passed down orally through ages as a part of our tradition.

They also employ terms like sorrow, victory, integrity, courage, fairness, and even folly. These tales often talk about figures like gods, deities, demi-gods, magical beings, and even people and animals and make them the main characters of its stories. As a result, myths have a religious significance being the tales to highlight a set of religious conventions and beliefs and behaviors.

Although the event or incident to which a myth refers is not actual, certain myths may have been significantly influenced by true events, which have been changed to become more symbolic over time or in different regions. These tales have their own significance to people like any other.

What are Folktales? 

These are stories that have been passed down orally through ages. As a result, this kind of tale is “people’s knowledge passed down through the generations by oral (the most common form), written, and visual means at any point in history.

Folktale is defined by Merriam Webster as “a typically anonymous, timeless, and placeless tale shared orally among people.

Folktales, on the other hand, are stories or tales told by ordinary people. Besides entertainment, these also teach the audience a lesson about behavioral and social morals and ethics.

As a result, various civilizations have their own distinct and unique folktales. As a result, it can be said that a folktale is a direct embodiment of the ideals and behavioral practices of a culture. Folktales are more secular than myths, which are connected to religious rituals and traditions.

Animal stories are among the most ancient of all folktales. They are a mix of myth, folklore, and fairy tales. Early myths and folklore include them prominently. Many European folktales feature talking animals. The most well-known traditional folktales are wonder tales (also known as fairy tales). They are magical marvel stories that usually show the struggle between good and evil. The majority of stories end with virtue triumphing and happy marriage.

Main Differences Between Myths and Folktales 

  1. A myth is a conventional story that explains to the spectator a historical or spiritual phenomenon. On the other hand, the folktale is a fictional story that is intended to delight the audience while also teaching them a valuable lesson.
  2. Myths are typically passed down through religious scholars and priests, whereas folktales are passed from ordinary people.
  3. Figures in myths are generally spiritual and religious beings such as deities, demi-gods, and otherworldly organisms, while those in folklore are mostly regular folk, beasts, and occasionally magical creatures.
  4. Myths frequently teach morals; as a result, they convey a religious or spiritual message. Folktales provide pleasure, but they can also portray a valuable life lesson.
  5. The examples of myths vary from those of folktales. Legends of Adam and Eve, Thor, Hercules, Icarus, Odin, Achilles, and others are examples of the former. Aladdin, Hansel and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs, and the Beanstalk, The Seven Ravens are some examples of the latter.

Conclusion

As a result, we can observe that myths and folktales are different things. Even though they appear to be nearly identical, they have significant variances.

The main distinction between myth and folktale is that myth is a legendary story that usually explains some historical or religious phenomena, whereas the folktale is a made-up story that has been passed down through generations.

Myths are typically passed down through religious scholars and priests, whereas folktales are passed from ordinary people. However, they have been passed down orally through ages as a part of our tradition. They have different characters in them. Both of these have their significance to people.

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/536773
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26300894
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