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Margaret Laurence and mythology

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (888 words)
Categories: Activity, Culture, Essay, Mythology, Society, Writing
Downloads: 35
Views: 3

In present-day civilization, the stories of myths and what they entail are seen as nonsensical merely because modern day science is able to disprove much of what they have to say. That being said, there are still sources in which remnants of mythology remain untouched, in the form of literature. It could be said that mythology which aims to explain the creation and development of the world is the basis of all literary works in some shape or form.

Similarly, in the essay Where the World Began, Margaret Laurence uses mythology as a basis to prove the true nature of appearances versus reality. This is accomplished by using her hometown of Neepawa as both a microcosm and the foundation of her argument to depict just how ludicrous these generic descriptions can truly be, as perception varies depending on an individuals interpretation of the text.

One of the many knacks of being a mythmaker, such as Laurence, is the ability to see the extraordinary in what would normally be regarded as an ordinary point of view.

Take for example, when Laurence voices her opinion on nationalism or a lack there of in Canada and does so using possessive language, saying that the small prairie town was my territory in the time of my youth, and in a sense my life (Laurence 4). The repetition of my throughout this sentence creates emphasis on the fact that because some people are so oblivious to how truly spectacular the mediocre prairie town and Canada as a whole are, are not able to call themselves true citizens to their nation. It’s only after being able to value ourselves, our land and our abilities (Laurence 4) can the people distinguish themselves as a family (Laurence 4), apart from both our neighbouring countries, Uncle Sam and Britannia (Laurence 4) and ultimately the rest of the world. It is only then will [they] be able to recognize [their] legends and give shape to [their] myths (Laurence 4) just as Margaret Laurence is capable of doing so by mythologizing and bringing life into that small prairie town (Laurence 1).

In addition to this, a crucial reason why the vast majority of myths are so successful in being immersive with their audience has to do with the fact that they contain situations which are highly improbable. Although many of these concepts may not be fully understood, they do serve as the groundwork for which Laurence uses to bring upon mythology in her work. For example, when first introducing us to the prairie town, it is described as “A place of […] despairs like multitudinous pits of isolated hells […] jubilation and of mourning, horrible and beautiful” (Laurence 1). Oxymoronic language is used in this scenario to fictionalize the chaotic atmosphere and to also allude to myths such as Pandora’s Box or Hades” underworld throughout this passage. It is only after this mesmerizingly suspenseful transition, that Laurence states, “It was, in fact, a small prairie town” (Laurence 1), suggesting that behind all this chaos, lies the simple prairie town of Neepawa.

Consequently, Laurence elaborates on the idea of reality being subjective rather than objective by appearance. As previously mentioned no one would think to describe a prairie town with such oxymoronic language, but that is in fact, the extent of how much the reader is able to visualize as Laurence argues, “you really have to live there to know that country” (Laurence 1). This gives readers an understanding that physical appearances do not define, in this case, a place, as one would need to take into consideration the emotional attachments that come along with such events.

For example, in the beginning of the essay Laurence describes her eyes as being formed there (Laurence 1), and so her perception of viewing is limited because that settlement and […] land were my first and […] only real knowledge of this planet (Laurence 1). Over time however, even after living in “Africa and in England” (Laurence 5) she notes that “The land still draws me more than other lands” (Laurence 5) signifying that there is some intangible sentimental value involved. Such emotional attachment could only be derived from the the places, events and people who reside where their roots would inevitably also lead back to. It would only seem befitting then, to end off the essay by remarking “it was here that I learned the sight of my own particular eyes” (Laurence 5) supporting the idea of perception to be based not merely on appearances but also to take into account the subjectivity of the matter.

In conclusion, Nora Foster Stovel’s claim is valid as Margaret Laurence uses Neepawa as a mythological basis for showing how extraordinary something so ordinary can truly be, through oxymoronic and paradoxical language as well as realizing not everything is objective in nature. Therefore, Laurence can in fact be seen as a “mythmaker” who uses myths to mythologize her hometown in the essay, Where the World Began. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,- and in both a literal and figurative sense this holds true for much of what life has to offer. In the instances where this may prove to be false however, it is important to take a look at the reflection of one’s self before making an assumption of another.

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Margaret Laurence and mythology. (2019, Nov 29). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/margaret-laurence-and-mythology-essay

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