Myth in Love, Love in Myth: The Story of Culture

Carl Jung’s archetypes, Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, and Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Mytheme make the universal nature of mythological stories evident (Archetypes; Mytheme; The Key That Unlocks The Door). Stories like Romeo and Juliet, Orpheus and Eurydice, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas and even the recent Twilight Saga tell the tale of prohibited, passionate love. Notwithstanding of tradition, cultural beliefs, customs, or time period, these stories seem to share the common theme of love’s beauty, strife, lament, and power. They contain a certain mythological air that allows them to be breathed and filtered through many lungs. In the book “Transformations of Myth Through Time,” mythologist Joseph Campbell writes,

“The material of myth is the material of our life, the material of our body, and the material of our environment; and a living, vital mythology deals with these in terms that are appropriate to the nature-knowledge of the time. The imagery of the human body is really the founding imagery of myth”.

Love stories like the aforementioned hold this mythical essence, taking from the environment, behavior, and various personal constituents (e.g., cognitive, affective and biological events) to construe the stories we all come to appreciate. Just as myths provide narratives about origins or how things came to be, so too do love stories seek to explain the state of those in love.

Love stories and mythologies are integral attributes to society. They encompass the individual and the multiple, and entice affect and understanding. Insights from psychologist Albert Bandura ‘s Triadic reciprocal causation model can be applied to the understanding of mythology and the love story in that they both involve interactions between personal, behavioral, and environmental determinants. Myths and love stories take form within social constructs. Lovers and heroes are a product of their social-cognitive milieu. They tell the tale of man, mind, and the responses to and from the world he lives in. What makes these stories transcend time and culture is that fact that they are rooted in the constant, reciprocal exchange between the the story and the society it represents.




Archetype. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Mytheme. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Reciprocal determinism. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

The Key That Unlocks The Door. (n.d) Exploring the Arts foundation. Retrieved from



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