Task One

Task one: Story Telling: Legends

In this research I plan to find out the differences between a legend and a myth and what the characteristics/elements of a legend is.

By Definition a legend is “a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition fromearlier times and popularly accepted as historical.”

Legends tend to have a few characters in them but these characters are usually memorable for their abilities of their role in the legend. For example the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the round table the main characters are merlin, Arthur and Guinevere. These characters are memorable because they are named but also because Merlin is a wizard, Arthur is a king and Guinevere is the love interest of Arthur. There is also the Saxon Army and King Uther Pendragon is mentioned at the beginning as it is Arthur that succeeds him when he becomes king. Legends also are usually set in the past of the particular culture form where the legend is typically told and are told in third person so the narrative is the overseas all that goes on in the story. The characters usually face obstetrical that are difficult to over come but the hero will always come out on top and becomes the centre of the “legend”.

“A legend is presumed to have some basis in historical fact and tends to mention real people or events. Historical fact morphs into a legend when the truth has been exaggerated to the point that real people or events have taken on a romanticized, “larger than life” quality. In contrast, a myth is a type of symbolic storytelling that was never based on fact.”


“Key Difference: Legend are narrative of actions performed by humans sometime in history; it an historical account of events and people from ancient times. Myths are stories or tales that have been rooted in religion or folk beliefs of that time.”


These definitions of the differences between a myth and a legend are similar however they contradict my definition of what a legend is a “nonhistorcal event” for example Robin hood is a legend that was never real which also applies to Merlin and King Arthur. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that Myths and legends are almost to similar to fully differentiate but the key difference is that myths and mythology is tied to a religion where are legends are not.

Legends from different countries:

  1. United Kingdom, Scotland: The lockness Monster
    “Legends of the monster lived on as they were passed from generation to generation, but the creature’s popularity reached an unprecedented height in 1933. That year, a new road was constructed beside the loch. Travellers reported more sightings than ever before. Later that year the infamous Surgeon’s Photo was published, depicting what appeared to be a head and long neck stretching out of the loch water. In 1994, one of the individuals who shot the Surgeon’s Photo confessed on his deathbed that the photo was a hoax.”http://europeisnotdead.com/disco/books-of-europe/european-legends/united-kingdom-the-loch-ness-monster/
  2. Germany: The Lorelei”The Lorelei is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine in Germany, which soars some 120 metres above the waterline. It is also the place where the enchanting Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is said to live.  The legend tells that, after having been accused of bewitching men and causing their death, Lorelei was consigned to a nunnery.”http://europeisnotdead.com/disco/books-of-europe/european-legends/
  3. Japan/ China:
    “There is a legend in Japan and China about a girl called Kuchisake-Onna, also known as the slit-mouthed woman. Some say that she was a samurai’s wife. One day, she cheated on her husband with a younger and better-looking man. When the husband returned, he discovered her betrayal; enraged and furious, he took his sword and slit her mouth ear-to-ear.Some say that the woman was cursed to never die, and still wanders the world so that people can see the horrible scar on her face and pity her. Some people claim that others have actually seen a very beautiful young lady, who asked them: “Am I pretty?”  And once they replied positively, she ripped off the surgical mask, and showed them her horrible wound. She then asked the same question—and anyone who no longer found her pretty was met by tragic death from her hands.”http://listverse.com/2013/06/12/10-creepy-urban-legends-from-around-the-world/

The last legend i found intrigued me the most because it is different to the others I have found as it is an urban legend. By definition this is “a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror”. This is different to a folk tale because they a usually set in a more modern setting and contain either more graphic violence or supernatural spirits (usually evil). This intrigued me because it is the first ‘real’ legend that I have found that couldn’t be mistaken for a myth. Because it doesn’t contain any high being or a fantastic creature, it is about a human who was unfaithful and who suffered severe consequences. There is an element of ‘truth’ to the tale by using adultery but the curse of her being unable to die gives it the element of being untruthful. This tale is one with a moral which means that it could be confused with a folk tale as it has a lesson to be learned however as it is an urban legend it suggests that it possibly hasn’t been around long enough to be known as a folk tale.   

Though my research I have found out what a legend is and the differences between a legend and a myth, but i have also found that they are not all that different and they have a lot of the same elements however legends are a lot closer to folk tales then myths are. I have also found out what an urban legend and how they could be easily confused with folk tales but also what makes them different to folk tales.


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