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Mythology: Past and Present Essay

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Depending on who you ask to define myth, most times you will get something like, “Stories about fictitious Gods or people that were written a long time ago”. As common an answer as this may be, the real definition states that myth is, “a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.” What most people miss with the concept of a myth is the fact that these people were speaking these stories to their family and friends not only as a means of entertainment, but also as a way of explaining things that they did not have an answer to. Mythology actually has quite a bit in common with stories that were written in modern day, and these elements have been passed down over many generations to help not only tell a good story, but convey a message to the reader.
The book “Typical American” has many elements of myth intertwined between its pages. The story’s main struggle is reminiscent of a classic theme among Greek myth: a man following on a course in his life, and along the way he loses himself and must undergo an internal realization as to who he is and what he needs to accomplish. A symbolic instance of when Ralph was lost, trying to find himself is when he was out on his driver’s test and the instructor was basically telling him he had no shot at getting his license. “You’re never going to get your license. You know why? Because you don’t inspire confidence” ( Jen 130). Even though Ralph eventually did get his license, this was symbolic of a time when he was unsure of himself, and lost along the path he had chosen. Thi...


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...timeless realm, refuses to address them.” (Harris 360). This quote deals with the argument that Achilles (from Greek Mythology) could not have been more than twelve years old at the start of the Trojan War. The response to that argument is that myth transcends time, and while it may not always make sense in terms of concrete factual history, that was never the point. The point of myth was always to explain an unknown event or occurrence to an audience in the most entertaining way possible and the fact is that writers will continue to use the same tools our ancestors used to write myth, until the end of time.




Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1994.

Harris, Stephen L. and Gloria Platzner. Classical Mythology. New York, NY:
McGraw-Hill, 2004.

Jen, Gish. Typical American. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1991.


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