the story of folk tales

Characteristics of Folk Tales

         Apparent characteristic of folk tale is the simple way of telling story without complicated structure. Story-telling is direct and starting with important characters in the story. Such characters may be the generation of main characters’ parents. Then, the story goes on telling the lives of main characters that may face obstacles but finally manage to get over the troubles. Usually, folk tales lead to happy ending. If folk tales are fables, the ending words would be “this tale teaches you ….”. Likewise, the Jataka tales normally indicate who the main characters would become after their reincarnation in the next episode. On the contrary, riddle tales always end with questions. Kularb Mallikamas (1975, pp.99-100) has summarized main characteristics of folk tales as follows.

          1. Folk tale is told with ordinary words. It is a prose, not a verse.
          2. Folks tales have been orally passed on for generations. With developed writing, folk tales may be written down based on the stories previously told by mouth.
          3. There is not indication of the original story teller. It is usually referred that the story has been told from their precedents who were important persons in the past. This differs from contemporary literatures which clearly indicate the authors’ names. Even the folk tales with names of the authors, such as Grimms’ Fairy Tales, still refer that the stories are based on the original tales, not newly composed.

          Jua Satawetin (1974, p.16) gave some explanation of folk tales’ important characteristics as follows.
          1. The story must be old.
          2. The story must be told in a prose form.
          3. The story must be previously told orally.
          4. The story must present perceptions and beliefs of local folks.
          5. The true story which also includes the moral percept can be relatively deferred as folk tale such as, for example, the story of Makato and the story of Bangrachan’s Villagers.

          Implicitly, it can be seen that the most important characteristic of a folk tale is the way it has been passed down to newer generations without knowing who was the composer of that story.


Pra Rottasen
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