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"Watership Down" By Richard Adams: The Importance Of Myths In The Novel Compared To Their Importance In All Societies.

2085 words - 8 pages

In Webster's New World School and Office Dictionary, the word myth is defined as "a traditional story serving to explain some phenomenon, custom, etc" (Macmillan 284). The word mythology comes from the root mythos which means "story" and the root logos which means "word" or "talk"; so it literally translates to "storytelling" (Grolier Mythology 565). Before information was ever written down, it was handed down by word of mouth (Parada Basic 3). Long ago books were not available to provide explanations for the way creation worked, so people created stories that would give them answers to the questions that they had (Mysteries 1). Besides the previous reason, myths and folklore are believed to have been created and used for different reasons. Some of these are for entertainment (Grolier Folklore 310), to describe where certain rivers, cities, mountains, or other geographical features got their names (Grolier Folklore 310); to explain the beginning of people, animals, and nature (Grolier Mythology 565); or to teach a moral. These reasons will be further explicated later in this paper. One example of storytelling is found in the novel Watership Down by Richard Adams. The rabbits in the story often told the stories of a rabbit named El-ahrairah. In these stories, El-ahrairah used his wisdom and trickery to rescue his people from Prince Rainbow and be able to live freely with his rabbits. As one rabbit said in the story, "El-ahrairah is a trickster ... and rabbits will always need tricks" (Adams 114). As in other forms of folklore and mythological tales, the rabbits in Watership Down told the legends of El-ahrairah for a myriad of reasons: to motivate and give hope in times of struggle and fear, to entertain, to emulate El-ahrairah's mastery of deception, and to expound on inscrutable origins of life.To begin, myths and legends have been used to bring hope and motivation to those experiencing great hardships or fear. On the way to Efrafa, many of the rabbits in Watership Down were full of fear and anxiety to know if their plan of getting does and escaping without injury or death would be a success (Adams 277). As a distraction and a comfort, "The Story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inle" was told. While being surrounded by King Darzin's men, El-ahrairah and his rabbits became ill, because there was no way to get food. El-ahrairah decided to escape and ask the Black Rabbit for help. He offered his life as a sacrifice if the Black Rabbit would save his rabbits from King Darzin. After many attempts and injuries, the Black Rabbit helped El-ahrairah and defeated King Darzin's men. El-ahrairah's warren was saved (Adams 278-292). Even though the story was originally told to distract the rabbits, it also encouraged them; El-ahrairah went through many trials and injuries to try and save his rabbits and the rabbits hearing the story went through many hardships, also, to try and rescue the does from Efrafa. When they heard that El-ahrairah's story ended...

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