Folk tale background

folktales’ background

  • What are folk tales?

A folk tale is a story that forms part of an oral tradition. The stories are passed down verbally from generation to generation, and over time become expanded and reshaped with each retelling.olktales often reflect the values and customs of the culture from which they come. They have been used to teach character traits. It is difficult to categorize folktales precisely because they fit into many categories. However, they can be divided into fables, fairy tales, old legends and even ‘urban legends’.

  • What are the characteristics of folktales?

Because folk tale is a story that exited mainly through oral tradition, it is really difficult for us to find out exact the stories’author name like many other kinds of stories.  In different countries, we can find some stories have the same plot.The language used in folktales is quite simple to understand and easy to remember or retell. Folktales’ plot is often told about the conflict between two opposite sides such as people presenting the good qualities and the ones presenting  the bad human characteristics, the small thing versus the big one so on. These conflicts which are seem to so clear, often happen with a fixed format where one side is being treated unfair and then after a long time struggling the good human characteristics won and reward the happy life.  Most of the folktales have happy and satisfied endings. Another kind of folktales is legend which usually explain us about the origination of everything surroundings such the way tiger has its tripe, how durian got it smell, ect.

There are many ways to retell folktales, but the two most popular format are in front a group of people and in family.

In terms of telling a folk tale in front a group of people, the teller will stands in front a group of people sitting around the fire and performances the stories by language, body gesture. This kind is typical way i the countries which have many ethnic group of people, for example Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar.


An intense preoccupation with story and ritual: Tom Hirons tells a Siberian folk tale. Photo by Andy Sansom/Aeon

The other way is in family where the previous generations retell folktales for the following generations

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Due to their characteristics, folktales reflect traditional culture (religious practice, habits), lifestyles (dances, music, clothings, food), belief (planting practice, family traditions and other worldview) or even wishes, interests( taste of music, literature, architectures). Folktales tell us about the way life was for the common man.  It is folklore, which remembers the hopes, fears, dreams and details of everyday lives. They tell us our history, they describe where we live, what our values are and ultimately who we are.

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