Myths and heroes

Myths and heroes – Oral du Bac d’anglais

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La notion Myths and heroes est une notion centrale à connaître pour l’oral du Bac d’anglais. The notions that you need to be familiar with are dealt with differently from one teacher to the other. Keep in mind that this is a proposition of what you can do with “Myths and heroes” during your oral exam but many other ideas can be put forward.

Définition de la notion ” myths and heroes “

A myth is a traditional symbolic story, usually orally shared from generations to generations, that aims at reflecting a society’s values and at questioning its foundations. It usually revolves around a hero that is either fictional or historical and that carries with him (most mythical heroes are men) the tradition and the history of that very society.

As society evolves, myths and heroes do too and tend to adapt to the new society’s culture. If you find a good definition online, try and rephrase it with your own words. There is nothing more annoying for an examiner to hear 20 similar introductions.

A retenir : Myths and heroes est une notion complexe qui reflète les traditions et l’histoire d’une culture. Par conséquent la définition même des mythes et des héros évolue au fil du temps.

A savoir sur la notion ” myths and heroes “


Myths were used as political instruments to convey an ideology and were often used to romanticize and glorify an historical era. Myths always have a cultural, political and social agenda. As myths and heroes change throughout time, so do the popular beliefs about these heroes.


Many heroes are fallen now (= déchus) because they do not correspond to later societies’ ideals. Heroes tend to have powers (great strength, great intelligence or magical powers): think about superheroes like Spider-Man or Hulk. Most heroes have a difficult journey: their birth is complicated or triggers wars between Gods. Heroes are responsible of the wellbeing of society. They sacrifice their own safety for the greater good. Popular culture heavily relies on myths and heroes to create new films, series, books.

A retenir : La notion myths and heroes est liée à l’histoire et à la culture populaire. Les héros peuvent avoir des pouvoir, ils peuvent être déchus, mais surtout, ils suivent une quête qui leur permet de réaliser leur destinée.

Les exemples à utiliser

Exemple 1 sur ” myths and heroes ” : Creation of the United States

The myth of the creation of the United States from scratch (= à partir de rien) is widely held. We consider that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas whereas a lot of Native Americans had already settled there and built their lives there. European settlers (= colons) came to America and destroyed the Native Americans lives: they took their resources, their food and entered a devastating war that led to the quasi-disappearance of Native Americans. Some historians today talk about a real genocide. The most obvious example of the mythification of the creation of the United States of America is the celebration of Thanksgiving.

In the myth, Native Americans are celebrated as a sharing people that helped the settlers develop their first colonies. Americans are portrayed as grateful and Thanksgiving has become the utmost celebration of sharing.

Exemple 2 sur ” myths and heroes ” : Cohabitation with Native Americans and the European settlers

However, it is now widely accepted that the cohabitation with Native Americans and the European settlers has never been peaceful. Moreover, the expenses on Thanksgiving and the food waste resulting from this dinner tend to qualify (= nuancer) this event as a generous tradition.

America seems to have been built on several myths. The second one is the myth of the American dream, of the “rags-to-riches” story (= des haillons aux richesses). The story says that in the United States of America, everything is possible. A poor man can become a billionaire if he sets his heart to it (= s’il le veut vraiment).

Exemple 3 sur ” myths and heroes ” : Nowadays

Even today, politicians tell the American people that their poverty is their responsibility and that they can overcome anything, which allows the government not to invest into its people’s welfare. Thus, this myth serves a political agenda.
However, the rampant poverty in this country deeply questions this myth.

Those two modern myths allow you to illustrate the social impact of mythology. Do not forget to use specific documents seen in class in your presentation.

Le vocabulaire utile pour la notion ” myths and heroes “

  • to aim at : viser à
  • to reflect : refléter
  • a value : une valeur
  • the foundations : les fondements
  • to convey : transmettre
  • an agenda : un but, un objectif politique, souvent caché
  • throughout time : au fil des années
  • a belief : une croyance
  • a journey : une épopée, un voyage au sens métaphorique souvent
  • the greater good : le bien commun
  • bold : audacieux
  • brave : courageux
  • a hardship : une preuve
  • glory : la gloire
  • dedication : dévouement
  • an achievement : un exploit
  • a quest : une quête
  • the saviour : un sauveur
  • the willpower : la volonté
  • the wisdom : la sagesse
  • to dare : oser
  • to defy : défier
  • to fight against : se battre contre
  • to praise : faire l’éloge
  • to worship : vénérer
  • to be hailed as a hero : être acclamé en héros
  • to do a heroic deed : commettre un acte héroïque
  • to plead : supplier
  • to serve one’s country : servir son pays

There are many more myths you can talk about and many heroes you can present ! Do not hesitate to talk about what interests you if it is relevant ! Good luck ! N’hésite pas également à lire nos autres articles pour préparer l’oral d’anglais.

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