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Folk Heroes

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What do Robin Hood, Billy the Kid, and William Wallace all have in common? At first glance, absolutely nothing. However, and despite the fact that the villainous Billy the Kid is also mentioned, all are considered to be folk heroes.

A folk hero isn't always the good guy. Instead he is a person who has become larger than life. His deeds have become firmly embedded in the consciousness of the public. In addition, his life gets exaggerated beyond realistic proportions, often following the oral tradition in which each action gets embellished. In time, the individual becomes transformed into someone far beyond the extraordinary. He rises to near-mythical proportions.

Common situations that transform a person into a folk hero often include social injustice, major disaster, or if he lives beyond civilization and lawfulness.


Preview the lesson material:

Warm Up: Discuss the question with your partner for five minutes.

  1. What is a hero? What is a villain? Can you think of any examples?

Comprehension Questions: Answer the questions before/after your read the article.

  1. Robin Hood, Billy the Kid, and William Wallace are all a type of hero.  T / F
  2. A folk hero is almost always a good guy.  T / F
  3. The life and deeds of a folk hero gets exaggerated.  T / F
  4. Disasters are only one example of situations common to these stories.  T / F

Discuss: Discuss these questions with a partner. Remember to support your answers.

  1. What do you think about folk heroes? Please explain.
  2. Are there any folk heroes from your country? What did they do? Please explain.
  3. Do you think there are any folk heroes these days? Why/not?

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