Difference Between Folktale and Legend

Key Difference – Folktale vs Legend
 

Folktale and legends are two varieties of stories belonging to a culture between which some difference can be identified. As children, we all have heard of folktales and legends of heroes and warriors. However, these are not the same. The key difference between folktale and legend is that while folktales are stories that are passed down from one generation to another, legends are truly inspired from historical events. Through this article, let us examine the differences between a folktale and a legend.

What is a Folktale?

A folktale is a story that is passed down from one generation to another in a particular group of people, through word of mouth. Folktales can be heard in all cultures. Whether you are an Asian, European, African, etc. you all have listened to folktales as children. However, the folktales that are enjoyed by children in Japan, maybe completely different to the folktales enjoyed by children in England. Hence, it is accurate to highlight that folktales are connected with the culture of each society creating diverse stories among different groups of people.

When speaking of folktales they can have different story lines. For instance, some can be historical stories while others are adventures. There can also be other varieties such as moral stories and even fairy tales. Charles Perrault’s Tales of Mother Goose is often viewed as a famous folktale collection.

Sometimes folktales can contain an element of truth, but most folktales have become lost in its oral tradition. In some cases, folktales can have a number of versions. When concentrating on the features of the folktale specifically, the main characters are always human beings. But these individuals can have magical powers. There are also supernatural elements in folktales. In most folktales, the story is about the characters overcoming an obstacle. Through this journey as they reach towards their happy ending, the listener is provided with action, wisdom, morals, and even justice.

Difference Between Folktale and Legend

Japanese Folktale: Kuniyoshi The Ghosts 

What is a Legend?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a legend refers to a traditional story that may or may not be true. Legends usually consist of a hero or heroic character, and can include supernatural elements. The specialty of a legend is that it is linked to a true event or place. In different societies, there are legends. These are usually related to the history of the society and also connected with its culture.

One key difference between a legend and a folktale is the element of truth. In legends, there is a connection to a historical event or place. For instance, legends such as Robin Hood contain an element of truth, although the truth may have become caught up in the story for so long that it has transformed itself into a mere tale.

Another difference between the two is that while folktales mostly highlight a crisis that the individual overcomes in life, a legend is a story of fame and glory. For example, the legends of King Arthur and his knight of the round table. This highlights that although some similarities can be identified between a folktale and a legend, there exists a clear difference as well. Now let us summarize the difference in the following manner.

 Folktale vs Legend

Robin Hood

What is the Difference Between Folktale and Legend?

Definitions of Folktale and Legend:

Folktale:  A folktale is a story that is passed down from one generation to another in a particular group of people, through word of mouth.

Legend: A legend refers to a traditional story that may or may not be true.

Characteristics of Folktale and Legend:

Element of Truth:

Folktale: Folktales can contain truth, but most are stories that have been made and passed on from generation to generation.

Legend: Legends, unlike folktales, possess an element of truth as they are linked to a historical event or place.

Nature:

Folktale: A folktale deals with the obstacles undergone by an individual or a group.

Legend: A legend is a story of fame and glory.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Kuniyoshi The Ghosts“. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

2. Robin Hood statue, Nottingham Castle, England-13March2010 By David Telford from London, UK (robin hood  Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons