Jack Swann on myth, legend, and folktale

Folklore scholars generally recognize three major forms of folk narrative: myth, legend, and folktale. Myths are etiological narratives that use gods (divine, immortal figures) to explain the operation and purpose of the cosmos. Legends are quasi-historical narratives that use exceptional and extraordinary protagonists and depict remarkable phenomena to illustrate cultural ideals, values, and norms. Finally, folktales [including fairy tales] are entertaining narratives that use common, ordinary people as protagonists to reveal the desires and foibles of human nature. The following outline illustrates the relationship of fairy tales to other folk narratives.

Jones, Steven Swann. The Fairy Tale: The Magic Mirror of the Imagination. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print. (8.)

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