Use Of Myth In Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods'

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EXTENDED ESSAY

Title: Myth and Modern America

Research Question: How is contemporary America portrayed through the use of myth in Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’?

ENGLISH A: LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE CATEGORY 3

4301 words

Introduction

As generations of people migrated to America from all corners of the Earth, they carried their stories and myths with them. These histories, cultures and religions of the people of America are represented here in the novel as Gods and Goddesses and other mythical figures. Gaiman’s novel American Gods examine what it means to be American by realizing the cultural legacy of the nation through its mythical beginnings and how these traditional values have evolved to form contemporary ideals, resulting in the loss of diversity and identity.

Gaiman seeks to question what the term American means, and what does it mean to be American. One of the protagonists in the novel Wednesday claims that “Nobody’s American. Not originally.”(Gaiman, 117) which contradicts the strict definition of what an American is as inscribed by the American Government – being a citizen of the country. The story of American Gods is one about the power and evolution of faith, of the immigrants who helped to build and define American Culture, only to see the fruits of their labour turn against them.

One of the main themes present throughout this novel is the persistence of mythology and belief, where the author attempts to show how myth is not an antediluvian system of
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