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Elements of Folktales
What is a Folktale?
Folktales were passed down from
generation to generation by word of
mouth, which is called oral tradition.
Folktales were made up to explain the
wonders of the world or to teach
morals and lessons.
Different Types of Folktales
Trickster Tales
Fables
Pourqoui stories
Fairytales
Trickster Tales
One character, usually the protagonist,
is a clever trickster that causes
problems for the other characters
They usually goes unpunished
Example “Trickster” Characters:
Anansi the Spider (Africa), Hare (North
America), Wolf( Europe)
Fables
 These are stories that teach a lesson or have
a moral
 The main characters of Fables are usually
animals with human characteristics
 The moral is never stated, but needs to be
inferred by the reader
 Examples of Fables: Tortoise and the Hare,
The Ant and the Grasshopper
Pourquoi Stories
Explain WHY something is as it is
Explains HOW something came to be
and it usually explains something in
Nature
Examples of Pourquoi stories:
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
How the Elephant Got Its Trunk or How
the Tiger Got Its Stripes
*** Most myths and tall tales are
considered Pourquois
Fairytales
Include good and evil characters
Usually has a hero or heroine
Has Magic
Often begins with “Once upon a time”
Conflicts are resolved through kindness,
courage or intelligence
Examples: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty,
Aladdin
Common Elements of Folktales:
Rule of Three: Items happen in sets of 3 or 7s
(things happen in 3s, lots of repetition or
repeated phrases)
- 3 characters
- 3 events
- 3 tests the character must overcome
Ex: “Jack and the Beanstalk” showed Jack climbing the beanstalk
three times. The wicked stepmother visited Snow White in the forest
three times before she finally got her to eat the apple.
Magic is commonly used, to explain the
unexplainable.
You will see similar characteristics from stories
across the world
Common Elements of a Folktale:
Themes
Characters go through tests to prove
something (the good character must
solve a problem)
Good v. Evil (has characters that good,
others are bad)
Good is rewarded and evil is punished in
the end (tales have a happy ending)
Common Elements of a Folktale:
Characterization
Characters change only after they have
gone though the lesson learned during the
course of the story
The hero is usually young and fair, kind,
brave, unselfish, and may possess some
sort of special power.
Magic helpers, such as the Fairy
Godmother in Cinderella, allow for things
to occur within a story that would otherwise
be impossible
Common Elements of a Folktale:
Setting
Place is usually described easily and
briefly, leaving the imagination to fill in the
gaps. For example, folktales take place in
a cottage in the woods or in a magical
kingdom
Time is fantasy time, such as Once upon
a time, or A long time ago

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Elements of Folktales

  • 2. What is a Folktale? Folktales were passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, which is called oral tradition. Folktales were made up to explain the wonders of the world or to teach morals and lessons.
  • 3. Different Types of Folktales Trickster Tales Fables Pourqoui stories Fairytales
  • 4. Trickster Tales One character, usually the protagonist, is a clever trickster that causes problems for the other characters They usually goes unpunished Example “Trickster” Characters: Anansi the Spider (Africa), Hare (North America), Wolf( Europe)
  • 5. Fables  These are stories that teach a lesson or have a moral  The main characters of Fables are usually animals with human characteristics  The moral is never stated, but needs to be inferred by the reader  Examples of Fables: Tortoise and the Hare, The Ant and the Grasshopper
  • 6. Pourquoi Stories Explain WHY something is as it is Explains HOW something came to be and it usually explains something in Nature Examples of Pourquoi stories: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears How the Elephant Got Its Trunk or How the Tiger Got Its Stripes *** Most myths and tall tales are considered Pourquois
  • 7. Fairytales Include good and evil characters Usually has a hero or heroine Has Magic Often begins with “Once upon a time” Conflicts are resolved through kindness, courage or intelligence Examples: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin
  • 8. Common Elements of Folktales: Rule of Three: Items happen in sets of 3 or 7s (things happen in 3s, lots of repetition or repeated phrases) - 3 characters - 3 events - 3 tests the character must overcome Ex: “Jack and the Beanstalk” showed Jack climbing the beanstalk three times. The wicked stepmother visited Snow White in the forest three times before she finally got her to eat the apple. Magic is commonly used, to explain the unexplainable. You will see similar characteristics from stories across the world
  • 9. Common Elements of a Folktale: Themes Characters go through tests to prove something (the good character must solve a problem) Good v. Evil (has characters that good, others are bad) Good is rewarded and evil is punished in the end (tales have a happy ending)
  • 10. Common Elements of a Folktale: Characterization Characters change only after they have gone though the lesson learned during the course of the story The hero is usually young and fair, kind, brave, unselfish, and may possess some sort of special power. Magic helpers, such as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, allow for things to occur within a story that would otherwise be impossible
  • 11. Common Elements of a Folktale: Setting Place is usually described easily and briefly, leaving the imagination to fill in the gaps. For example, folktales take place in a cottage in the woods or in a magical kingdom Time is fantasy time, such as Once upon a time, or A long time ago