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The Four Mythoi

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Stephen Mannello

on 13 September 2012

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Transcript of The Four Mythoi

Four Literary Genres According to scholar Northrop Frye,
there are only four kinds of stories -
the four mythoi. All stories from
ancient to modern fall under one
of these categories. They are: Romance... ...Comedy... ...Tragedy... and Satire... How can you determine
which story mode you're
dealing with? elements to consider: is the protagonist(s)? Is he/she portrayed as capable
and formidable? Is he/she someone
the audience must take SERIOUSLY-
because the qualities they possess
give them the potential to prevail? Or, is the protagonist
ABSURD? Is he/she obviously
incapable of meeting any
real challenges? The second story element
we must consider to determine the mode is... What kind of WORLD do
the characters inhabit..? Is it a world that is generally good... Where evil may exist... (Modes of story-telling) But the evil and
adversity is there
merely... ...To be vanquished by the hero? ...So he can rescue the Princess... And they can live happily ever after...... ...OR, is it instead... A world
that is
HOSTILE... ...Where the hostility of the human world, and the
natural/supernatural world, can never be defeated? Let's begin again with ROMANCE... When we say
don't think
necessarily of
the romance
novels you
see at the
drug store... The ones with
such emotive
desperate body
language, the
bare chests and
cleavage, and
the negligible
clothing always
falling, falling off... As a mythoi, as a mode of
storytelling, ROMANCE may
indeed contain these elements,
but it is not limited to them... For our purposes, think instead of
the Romantic Hero- the "knight in
shining armour" archetype... While today the Romantic Hero may take diverse forms... The fundamentals of the main characters
and the world are the same... There are story First, what KIND of person... ROMANCE The Hero is... The World is... Generally
good Evil
defeated Bright
future Serious Caapable Victorious In some more modern
stories, we can see a twist
on the Romantic Hero... ...the RELUCTANT HERO... The Reluctant Hero eventually becomes the Romantic Hero, but begins as
an anti-hero... He's an average joe who does not seek glory, but circumstances
(often perilous) influence him onto the path of heroism... COMEDY The Hero is... The World is... Generally
good Evil
defeated Bright
Future Absurd Incapable Victorious The COMEDIC hero prevails despite
his or her flaws, often because of chance,
and the efforts of more capable helpers... Which is why funny movies
rarely end with all the main
characters dead... TRAGEDY the HERO is... the WORLD is... ultimately
hostile indifferent uncertain
future serious capable defeated Part of the tragedy stems from what
might have been, because the hero
had the potential to effect change
in the world, but did not because
of his/her own choices, and because
of hostile forces in the world. SATIRE the HERO is... the WORLD is... ultimately
hostile indifferent future is
bleak absurd incapable defeated Satire is generally considered to be
the only realistic mode of story-
telling... ...because in SATIRE there are no heroes...
All human beings are in some way flawed,
weak, and ultimately absurd... ...The satirical anti-heroes
are subject to sublime forces
beyond their control, like
disease, old age, natural
disasters, and sometimes
supernatural or paranormal
forces... In SATIRE, evil can never be defeated,
because even if you kill the bad guys,
the potential for evil still exists within
every human being... ...and no one can ever be powerful enough
to transform the world, or the laws of nature. ...Which is why satire can sometimes
be funny. But the laughter at satire
is an uncomfortable sort of laughter,
because the absurdity of the characters' condition is a mirror to
our own... So while the Tragic Hero might actually have won, the Satirical Hero was defeated before the story even began... he/she never had the potential to win in the first place... ... because of the
state of being
human, and
because of the
hostility of the
world we all
inhabit. As such, SATIRE is a rather
bleak mode of story-telling... But SATIRE can often be the most thought-provoking... ...and there is no magic potion to make things right, no fabled weapon to defeat the enemy, no
secret passage to find to blow
up the Death Star... Nobody can ever drive off
into the sunset to live
happily ever after. ROMANCE COMEDY THE HERO IS... THE WORLD IS... The Four Mythoi (Modes of Storytelling) 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr serious,
capable absurd,
incapable generally
good generally
good 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr serious,
capable absurd,
incapable ultimately
hostile ultimately
hostile TRAGEDY SATIRE So, to summarize... ... characters may suffer without purpose, without cause, and without meaning... Some of the best known examples of satire in literature include... by Jonathan Swift Let's see if you can start determining
the mode of a story on your own.
How would you classify... Your task: work with one or two other students.
Think of THREE short stories, novels or films for
each MODE. Be prepared to justify each one! ROMANCE! COMEDY! ROMANCE! TRAGEDY! COMEDY! TRAGEDY! ROMANCE! ROMANCE! SATIRE! Sisyphus giant boulder mountain! back pain Count Chocula Dr. Evil Evil Monkey Mr. Mannello 1. If someone were to make film based on your life story, do you think it would be a ROMANCE, COMEDY, TRAGEDY or SATIRE? Briefly explain why.

2. If it was your job to come up with the title of this film, what would it be, and why?

3. Assume the film has already been made. Write the film blurb you'd find on the back of the DVD case that entices consumers to buy it. 100-200 words. For homework: ROMANCE!
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