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Mythes et heros anglais

1.Myths and Heroes

What is a myth?

myth is a well-known story which was made up in the past to explain natural events or to justify religious beliefs or social customs. There may not be records or other proof that they happened, but at least some parts of myths may be true. All cultures have myths.

What is a hero?

hero is someone who is admired for either for their courage, qualities or particular achievements. They can be regarded as an ideal or role model. A hero can also be someone that you know personally and that you look up to, usually because of a particular quality or skill that they have.

What can we talk about to illustrate this notion?

  • a patriotic or national hero (sportsman, politician, human rights defender)
  • a fictitious hero (superhero or film star)
  • an icon or role model (fashion, tv, music)
  • a historical personality
  • mythical places in the world

Ideas for topics:

  • Historical heroes : how did they pave the way for others?
  • Rags to riches stories : Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling…
  • Disgraced heroes in sport :Oscar Pistorius, Lance Armstrong…
  • Founding myths of the United States (Pilgrim Fathers, the Constitution, Thanksgiving)
  • The American Dream – stories about those how have succeeded but also reasons to believe that it is simply a myth : the American Dream is dead
  • Heroes or fallen heroes of the Vietnam War that are portrayed in American films (Platoon, Born on the 4th July, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket)
  • National leaders or political figures who can be considered as heroes: Queen Elizabeth II, Obama, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzi …..
  • American movies : superheroes such as Superman or Captain America and their role in society: why do Americans love superheroes?
  • Reality TV stars – are they the new heroes?
  • Famous British film characters: Sherlock Holmes, James Bond
  • British heroes or heroines: Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Stephen Hawking
  • The heroes of Irish independance
  • British myths and legends: Robin Hood, King Arthur, the Loch Ness Monster

2. Spaces and Exchanges

Our modern world is built on the exploration and the conquest of new spaces. Nations are becoming more and more dependant on each other and our world seems geographically smaller then ever before thanks to improved transportation and communication systems. Throughout history trade, emigration, communication and conquest have brought about numerous cultural, political and economical exchanges across the world

What can we talk about to illustrate this notion?

  • Trade exchanges across borders
  • Globalisation
  • Immigration
  • Language and educational exchanges
  • Cultural exchanges (arts, media, fashion, music)
  • International communication
  • Internet and social networks

Ideas for topics:

  • The Brexit – how will it affect Europe and trade across borders?
  • New technologies and internet and their influence on world trade
  • Globalisation – McDonalds/Starbucks/Amazon/Apple (to name but a few!)
  • The US-Mexican border issue
  • The Cold War
  • Space exploration (Satellites/ Life on Mars/ Missions to the Moon
  • The brain drain: the emigration of talented/highly educated individuals from developing countries to seek a higher standard of living elsewhere (doctors and scientists leaving India for example)
  • Northern Ireland (history of the country and it’s relationship with Ireland, and more recently the « backstop » in the Brexit deal)
  • Immigration to the USA (Ellis Island, colonial period, Trump’s policies…)
  • Culture shock
  • South Africa (immigration history)
  • Canada (labour shortage and need for immigrants)
  • The Commonwealth (the role of the Queen and the link between the different Commonwealth countries)
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3. The Idea of Progress

This notion can be defined as an improvement, a development or a change in technology, science and social organisation which bring about a positive change to our society. These advances help improve our daily lives and give us a better quality of life. Social progress, scientific progress and economic development are usually considered as having a positive effect on our society however there are some cases where this change can have a negative effect too. Very often progress is also accompanied by opposition because society isn’t comfortable with the changes being made (same sex marriage, women’s rights, minority rights for example).

What can we talk about to illustrate this notion?

  • Scientific Progress such as medical advances, cures for illnesses, cloning, performance-enhancing drugs, genetically modified organisms.
  • Technological Progress such as technologies to slow down climate change: hybrid cars, wind turbines, solar panels, biofuel
  • New forms of communication: the internet, social media, satellite
  • Social Progress: changes that affect the social and environmental needs of a society. This can include wellness (health, shelter and sanitation), equality, inclusion, sustainability and personal freedom and safety.

Ideas for topics:

  • Designer babies – the ethical considerations
  • Internet and social networks – improvement to international communications
  • Cyberbullying and cyber criminality
  • Suffragettes – the right for women to vote
  • The civil rights movement in the USA
  • Same-sex marriage and the redefinition of family values
  • Equal access to education for girls and women
  • The end to apartheid in South Africa
  • New techologies to produce energy and protect the environment
  • The effects of industrial progress on the environment (greenhouse effect, melting ice caps, rising of ocean levels, ocean temperature increase
  • New methods for predicting severe weather (tsunami, tornado, storm warnings) that save thousands of lives
  • Journalism and internet and the problem of fake news
  • Progress in India: is it a modern country?
  • Online shopping: the pros and cons (increase in the offer of goods but decrease in the number of shops in towns and cities)
  • Equality: the same rights for women and men (salaries, number of women in influential positions)

4. Places and forms of power (or seats and forms of power)

In politics and social science, power is the ability to influence people’s behaviour. In order to be able to live together, members of a community draw up rules, regulations and law and try to respect them. This helps to create social cohesion but can also lead to conflicts and tensions when certain members of the community disagree with these rules. This notion deals with the different forms of power in the world and the places where it is exerted. It also includes the counter powers and the struggles when people try to resist.

What can we talk about to illustrate this notion?

  • Civil rights movements across the world
  • Financial power
  • The power of the press
  • The different places where power is exerted (parliaments, palaces, White House, Downing Street…)
  • Resistance to power (uprisings, riots, demonstrations)
  • The struggle for equality
  • The power of language
  • The power of the arts/cinema

Ideas for topics:

  • The Gun control debate in the USA – the US Constitution
  • Social media and the internet – the influence on our lives
  • Ellis Island – how immigration was controlled in the USA
  • The Brexit – how the media were able to influence the voting process
  • The superpowers: how can these countries influence events across the world
  • President Trump and his environmental policies
  • Wall Street and the 2008 financial crisis
  • Love of power – people who have made a name for themselves in history: Obama, Churchill, Kennedy, Mandela
  • The influence of Queen Elizabeth II and the role of the Monarchy
  • Violence in cinema/ video games: can it encourage people to be violent?
  • The different scandals in the media: how it can affect people’s lives
  • The power of art: Banksy – how his works bring our attention to a different side of the truth


Ce cours permet à l’élève de se préparer à l’épreuve de bac en anglais. Il traite d’un des points du programme : mythe et héros. Les mythes sont des croyances populaires sur lesquelles se basent souvent les idéaux et les valeurs d’une société. Ces histoires sont souvent incarnées par un héros, admiré pour son courage et sa dévotion. Voir la fiche vocabulaire Mythes et héros.

Mettez toutes les chances de votre côté pour vos épreuves d’anglais et retrouvez :

  • les autres thèmes du programme : espace et échange, idée de progrès, lieux et formes de pouvoir ;
  • des conseils méthodologiques pour l’oral et des vidéos pour apprendre à écrire un essai, un dialogue, une lettre ou un discours dans notre dossier.


Pour réviser les autres disciplines

Rendez-vous sur le portail des révisions du bac.

Producteur : Pythagora, France Télévisions

Année de production : 2014

Publié le 15/10/14

Modifié le 01/12/21

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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