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The Animal Protagonists (Essay Sample)

Instructions Folk Tales as Cultural Productions This third essay assignment asks you to think about the Middle Eastern and African folk tales. For this essay, you may only reference these specific works, though some minor citation and use of secondary sources is allowed. Since this is a close-reading essay, however, please use secondary sources only sparingly. Be sure to focus your essay on a strong thesis, organize it around a few specific main points, and support your response with evidence from the text or texts you are discussing, especially quotations, as you respond to one (1) of the following prompts: Looking at either the Middle Eastern Tales or the African Tales, focus on 2 or 3 main characters' goals, actions, and/or social mores. Create an argument that explains what do these characters show you about the ideals and values of the culture from which they come. Support your claims through interpretation of direct and specific evidence from the texts you\'re discussing. Choose one (1) tale from the Middle Eastern Tales and one from the African Tales, and create a thesis that compares what these showed you about the audience for those readings in terms of what they found important and/or entertaining. Do the tales seem to show any shared values, or are they completely different? Compare the role that religious teachings seem to play within one or two stories. Are they central? Peripheral? Completely unrelated? If necessary, do some research on the religions being represented so that you can work from an informed viewpoint. Some of the African stories we read focus heavily on animals as protagonists. Why do you think that the tellers chose to use animals in these roles? What would change if a human figure were to be used? Make your own topic: come up with your own critical question about the assigned works from this unit, and write an essay arguing for your answer to that question. If you choose to do this prompt, please note that you are required to post your critical question and working thesis to the Week 9 Essay forum so that you can receive feedback from your instructor and classmates. Please be sure your essay also meets the following guidelines: Has a word count of 600-900 words (check with your instructor before submitting anything longer) Includes the student-teacher cover letter Format the essay using MLA essay format (see the attached sample essay) and MLA-style citations, including a works cited list at the end; for help with MLA format, please visit Diana Hacker\'s Research and Documentation Online Spell check, and watch out for homonyms! MUST INCLUDE COVER LETTER, See attachment for sources. source..
The Animal Protagonists
In the African stories we have read, they focus on animals as the protagonist. The narrators or the authors had a purpose for the use of animals as protagonists in their stories. A protagonist is the main character in a story. The events of the story revolve around him or her in his/her presence. Most if not all of the happenings in the story connect to the protagonist. There may be one or even two protagonists in a story. Protagonists are out to achieve a goal. However, there may be obstacles hindering them from attaining their goals. If these obstacles are human or animals in the story they refer to as antagonists. Different authors and narrators may decide to use either human or animal protagonists in order to bring out the meaning of the story clearly and to deliver the message effectively. Therefore, herein are the reasons why authors and narrators use animal protagonists and the evaluation of the cases if the authors had used human characters in the stories that we have read in class.
Animals can be used as well as represented in several ways in the mythology. However, the most common use of animals is as narrative devices or as protagonists. In some cases, animals are given some supernatural powers and positions such as that of human thoughts and in other stories they are just perceived and play the role of animals. For example in the story how tortoise overcame elephant and hippopotamus, the animals are merely animals but have been given the power to reason and speak like human (Overton, 585). Elsewhere, animals are employed as symbolism like the case of the cock that caused a fight between two towns (Overton, 574).
One of the reasons why authors use animal protagonists is in order to explain some of the natural myths and the existence of nature. Refereeing to the example mentioned above, the author or the teller of the story intended to explain the myth of the existence of tortoises in the water and others on the land and why the tortoises that live in the water are literally bigger than the tortoises living on land (Overton, 585). Therefore, in such a case it would not be applicable to use human characters to explain the existence of tortoises in water and on land.
The other reason for the use of animals as the main characters in story telling is in order to balance gender and tribal affiliations. This is to say that the narrator intended to have a neutral perspective in relation to gender. He or she did not want to use either male or female characters hence the option of animal protagonists. Depending on the nature of the audience the nar...
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