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Anglais: MYTHS AND HEROES.

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MYTHS AND HEROES

We often say that a myth is an ancient story about gods, heroes and magic (for exemple, greek myths as The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer). But a myth is also a theme or character type embodying and idea or a popular belief or tradition embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or an unfounded or false notion. A hero is a mythological or legendary figure often endowed with great strenght or ability and admired for his/her achievements, or the main character in a work, or an object of extreme admiration and devotion like an icon or a role model. These two themes are often assimilated because a myth taken as a magical story often involved a heroe and a heroe often build a myth around his person.

In order to talk about this notion, I selected three document which talk about american myths.

The first one is the song American Land by singer Bruce Springsteen that comes from the album Wrecking Ball, released in 2012. In this song tells an immigrant his story, asks his wife to join him in America and pays tribute to all the generations of immigrants who sacrified their lives to build America. Bruce Springsteen identifies America as the land of opportunity, where you can get rich provided that you work for it. It depends only on your own work and you must deserve your money  it's the idea of meritocraty. But America is also depicted a little bit as a promised land where everything is there (citer des extraits de la chanson). Bruce Springsteen seems to be proud of his country. He defends the american dream, the idea that says that every person living in the United States can become rich if he works hard, if he is brave enough and determined. The United States are idealised (citer des extraits de la chanson) and the song perfectly describes the myth that lives in the country and maintain the notoriety of this one : the United States are seen in the world and by their peoples as the best country in the world.

As for the heroe, there are several of them in this song : it pays tribute to thos who sacrificed their lives building America, like black slaves in conton, cofe and sugar fields, peple who worked in the mines, who built transcontinental railroads, connecting all the country, or who fought in wars in order to keep people safe and protecting the lands full of treasures (citer des extraits de texte).

The link between this song and the notion myths and heroes is that the document involves a popular belief embodying the ideals and institutions of a society (the north american one) and an object of extreme admiration and devotion : the ones who helped building the United States.

The second document is a photography or Margaret Bourke-White taken in 1937 named The Louisville Flood. The photo represents, in the foreground, black americans of all ages and both sex queuing, maybe to buy food or maybe for soup kitchen. I can assume this because they all look destitute and have a basket or a bucket in their arms, which means they are exptecting something. In the background, a poster can be seen. It advertizes the American way of life, a myth that shows a national or nationalist american ethic who pretends agreeing with the princips of the unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of america : life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. The American way of life is often assimilated with the american dream. But in this picture, there is the stereotype of an upper middle-class family, a smiling perfect united family. The car is a symbol of wealth and the dog suggests a house in the suburbs. The family seems on an outing to the country. The photograph underlines the contrast to point at the irony of the situation and debunk the myth of the American way of life : The Louisville Flood is a period during the great depression after the Wall street krach of heavy rainfall that caused the river Ohio to rise out of its bed and flood the surrounding plains including the city of Louisville, Illinois, forcing thousands of people quiting their homes. The line of destitute people scorns the slogans : World's highest standard of living and There's no way like the American Way. The power of this photography is strong, because it shows the sombre part of the United States : not every body can live easily and the country is not sheltered from economic disasters. And the real heroes are those who keep going on to survive despite their poverty.

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