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Myths and heroes: to what extent are myths and heroes cornestones of our societies?

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Par   •  11 Mai 2017  •  Fiche  •  995 Mots (4 Pages)  •  1 046 Vues

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Myths and heroes

Today I am going to talk to you about myths and heroes. In order to understand the issues involved in this topic, I will first of all give a definition. Generally speaking, a myth is a popular belief which embodies the ideals and institutions of a society. Furthermore, it may include heroes, who are fictive or real persons admired for their great accomplishments and noble qualities, because they contribute to the well being of the society. The link between those two notions and human mentalities is strong, and hence leads us to the following question: To what extent are myths and heroes cornerstones of our societies ?  At first, I will explain how myths and heroes greatly imbued people with new values and ideals. In a second time, I will demonstrate that some of them are objects of social reappraisals and may have left some of their past significance.

        I - On one hand, it has to be said that some myths are literally the foundations of a society. In this case, they are remembered and celebrated by the whole country for allowing economical growth, social development and even democracy. Heroes are then role models for the citizens, for they are endowed with noble qualities.. The most accurate example is the Conquest of the West, which corresponds to the journey of the American People towards the west coast to expand their lands. Indeed, during the early 17th century, the American settlers headed West of the frontier for different reasons such as expanding the American territory, searching for minerals such as Gold with the Gold Rush or finally looking wide fertile areas to answer the growing demand of meat or different food that they could grow there.  

        This tale of the Conquest of the West is either a founding or a National Myth, which means that it is a story about the nation’s past and corresponds to an important national symbol and affirms a set of national values also. This Myth is accompanied by many important faces that can be considered as heroes. For example we can talk about the cowboy. A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. They can be considered as heroes because they form a major part of the conquest of the West, their main task was to drive cattle from one point to another. Indeed, cattle drives were a major economic activity in the 19th-century American West, particularly between 1866 and 1886, when 20 million cattle were herded from Texas to railheads in Kansas, for shipments to stockyards in Chicago and points east. That’s why the Cowboys were admired because of their courage and determination to drive those bovines on a such long distance. Even Theodore Roosevelt said that the manhood typified by the cowboy and his outdoor physical activity was essential if American men were to avoid the softness and rot produced by an easy life in the city. We can still see that cowboys are considered as heroes even 150 years after the conquest of the West, throughout the cowboy accessories that people still use such as the cowboy hat or with the cowboy boots. Even in the film industry the cowboys keep a very important part of the cinema history with hundreds of films and series starring american icons such as John Ford, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan who became president of the United States later on.


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