Myth and One-Dimensionality

William Hansen
2017 Humanities  
A striking difference between the folk-narrative genres of legend and folktale is how the human characters respond to supernatural, otherworldly, or uncanny beings such as ghosts, gods, dwarves, giants, trolls, talking animals, witches, and fairies. In legend the human actors respond with fear and awe, whereas in folktale they treat such beings as if they were ordinary and unremarkable. Since folktale humans treat all characters as belonging to a single realm, folklorists have described the
more » ... e described the world of the folktale as one-dimensional, in contrast to the two-dimensionality of the legend. The present investigation examines dimensionality in the third major genre of folk narrative: myth. Using the Greek and Hebrew myths of primordial paradise as sample narratives, the present essay finds-surprisingly-that the humans in these stories respond to the otherworldly one-dimensionally, as folktale characters do, and suggests an explanation for their behavior that is peculiar to the world of myth.
doi:10.3390/h6040099 fatcat:l3byun2imbfhli7f4emzf4f644