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MYTHS ANALYSIS Myths Analysis Introduction: The term ‘myth’ includes a wide range of denotations and connotations along with a wide spectrum of opinions spanning over centuries of cultures. Starting right from the Greek mythology, myths have traveled a long way through various societies and cultures along with multifarious outlooks, stories, views. Although the legitimacy of myths is still a much debated topic among experts, myths are traditionally accepted as true accounts of the remote past of the society. One of the most interesting features of myths is that the main characters in a myth are usually gods or supernatural heroes. Another important characteristic of myths is that they convey knowledge accumulated over generations. Therefore, the ‘conservativeness’ of myths is justified with regard to protecting such knowledge as well as proscribing behaviors.
Myths are of several types. Myths of origin or creation myths are supernatural stories or explanations describing the beginning of humanity, earth, life and universe. The creation is often perceived as a deliberate act of deities (Leeming, 2002). Myths of eschatology emphasize destruction and death. Myths of culture heroes are more or less prominent in all societies and cultures. Myths of celestial gods and deities occur in many mythologies, especially in folk culture where myths are regarded as sacred narratives. The presence of myths can be comprehended in present day context too. For instance, the myth of the American dream is apparently visible in myriad spheres of American lifestyle.
The myth of ‘American dream’:
The myth of American dream dominates most of the American panorama right from its literature, plays, television shows, to music, games, novels, and most specifically, movies. The idea of American dream is rooted on the attainment of social equality and influence by all individuals irrespective of race, community, class and religion. However, it is a myth advocating that the socio-economic structure of the nation is not in equilibrium as the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. The main components of the myth of American dream are: dishonesty, superficiality and deceit. The myth is considerably dealt in Arthur Miller’s most celebrated play Death of a Salesman. Here, the protagonist is fixated with the superficiality of the comforts of life so much in the false hope that his American dream will be fulfilled without hard work and honesty. Failure to face the harsh reality of the deceitful world of business as well as to realize the true world sans imagination brings the end of his American dream. His inability to differentiate between illusion and reality turns the American dream into a myth.
Similar components of the myth of American dream are also evident in The Cosby Show, a popular American television sitcom aired in the 80s and 90s. It was the biggest hit in American television in the 80s. The revolutionary sitcom represented the myth of American dream focusing on the diversified prospects of racism practiced in the nation in the 80s. The show evidenced some of the main components of the myth of American dream including social inequality based on racism, expanding to economic and political discrimination. Exploitation of the black people in the nation was manifested in the practice of racism. The myth of American dream is resonant in the ugly fact that “the black struggle for justice and equality in the United States still [in the 80s] confronted a mountain of obstacles.” (Smitherman and Dijk, 1988. P. 48)
Conclusion:
A more common definition of myths will be a collective belief or concept that cannot be legitimized nor can be avoided as a fanciful phenomenon. Myths are here to stay longer. These myths carry along the stories from the past, the knowledge that is conferred by the older generations. In the context of contemporary myths, it is apparent that myths comprise, more or less, the distinctiveness of good and bad/evil, equality and discrimination. The myth of American dream thrives on these components. These patterns are more audible to people as they are about the social disparities and limitations, about the real existences of good and bad, and above all, they are against the progressive and collective advancement of universal mankind.
References:
1. Doty, W. G. (2004). Myth: A Handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
1. Leeming, D. (2002). Myth: A Biography of Belief. New York: Oxford University Press.
1. Miller, A. (1998). Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Books.
1. Smitherman, G. and van Dijk, T. A. (Eds.). (1988). Discourse and Discrimination. Michigan: Wayne State University Press. Read More
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