Intertwining stories with culture

Dorothy Baker

Culture and storytelling are intertwined in our society and the parallels between stories originating from multiple cultures are more common than we think, according to Kyle Gottfredsen, an avid reader of classic folktales. © 2021 Dorothy Baker

Although, some stories such as Greek and Roman mythology may be more commonly known, exploring the themes of stories from other documented cultures can be an eye-opening experience. Every culture has its own storytelling techniques and these stories contain multiple commonalities that are intertwined with the culture of society today.  Storytelling is “a teaching tool” claims Kyle Gottfredsen, an environmental Geology Major at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, with a passion for Culture and Storytelling.


(The following is a story told by Kyle Gottfredsen to Dorothy Baker)

Years ago, I had an ancient philosophy course, and the underlying themes of a lot of what the Greeks and the Romans did was philosophy. But, the way they got there was through storytelling and the interplay between them. The relationships, the roles, and the interchangeable roles create many of the elements of storytelling that we have today. The Greeks and the Romans did it with specific, broad categories.

On the more mythology side, it’s “the Cretan Bull”.  It was a deal with Poseidon. And then somebody tried to trick Poseidon, and I think it was Persephone, who got infatuated with this Bull and chased it all over the world. Then it trickled down into these derogatory situations, kind of like “the Canterbury Tales.”

In Greek mythology, there’s kind of a lot of explicit material, and it’s not like they’re perverts. It’s like these original, beautiful concepts degraded through what Christians might call original sin, but it’s desire, right and then that combined with the love in “Plato Symposium.” Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve caught bits of it in today’s culture.

I think if parents were more open with their children, they shared more of their true personalities as their kids grew older instead of forever holding onto that parent-child role. Sometimes I relate my life, my family members, even my friends, into these roles, and I can sometimes it seems, figure out parts of what they are, and this lends a lot to their life and how they progress through life. In those old Greek and Roman stories, you can look at people as compositions of what their parents were.

And this is what kind of sparked my interest is just like you said, I saw my life through these ancient themes.

A really good pro and I find this in geology too is it’s a passive skill. As you’re walking around looking at life through regular awareness, you can partake in either the observation, the indulgence, or the intrigue in it. Then you see them in video games and in pop culture and the Marvel movies.

And then when I heard about the mythology relating to philosophy, it really took me that there might be something real. Before that, I kind of thought it was like comic books, like storytelling, just fanciful. But no, there’s real thought, really intelligent people for years put themselves into these things.

And the downside is, with how complicated humans are, It can sometimes be oversimplifying.

Even if you analyze Shakespeare, a brilliant writer, he sometimes gets over enthralled in these basic concepts of character creation and I think it can limit stories, and if the rest is true, it can also limit our lives to see people as simplified creatures.

The deep allegorical themes throughout the Bible. It’s not so simple as; Jesus died, he saved our sins, God is worried about the end of the Earth in Revelation, right? If you dig deeper, I think you’ll find the source material and it’ll make commonality between even theology.

I would say pick 1 or 2 well-documented cultures and analyze the themes of their stories. Then if there’s anything you have a preference in anything, an intriguing insight or even personal experience in, see it in your own life and the cultures of others, not just in well-documented stories, but in the regular runnings of daily life.

I think if you spent some time looking at the storytelling of other cultures, people would take a real fascination with character and character development.

I’m seeing that every culture has the development of character through environment and environment, through character based on their proceedings and their observance of the world. Every type of person has their own storytelling techniques, which relate to theology, sociology, and philosophy. I think it also relates to character development and then as it relates to my passion, storytelling, or at least the dissection of storytelling.

That’s a beautiful thing to draw parallels between them to help us understand each other.

That’s what I was saying in the beginning here, too, with roles. If roles evolve and you get a truer sense of your personal environment as it relates to other people. I think we would develop healthier relationships. I think we’ve developed more complex, interesting personalities.  This would help us see each other not as two or three-dimensional beings, but as great big things.


Kyle Gottfredsen is an Environmental Geology major at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.