I thought I’d get a little of this down.
Examples of made men–in the “simulacra of humans created by magic” sense–include the golem, Pygmalion’s sculpture, that strange bronze man that Medea helped Jason and the Argonauts defeat, and Frankenstein’s monster. I’ll also note the soldiers that sprung up from dragon’s teeth–they weren’t really a created individual, which is most of what I’m looking at, but they do come to mind.
Two functions seem to show up. First, there’s creatures created not to fulfill a duty but simply to be, because having them around was what their creator wanted. Out of this you get Frankenstein’s monster, Pygmalion’s sculpture, Snegurochka the Snow Maiden from Russian folklore, and actually pretty much any of dozen examples of “child created out of objects rather than born because the parents wanted a child so much”. This is not what I’m thinking about right now.
Second, there’s the made man that has a protective function. The golem is pretty much the most blatant example I can think of; persecuted minority + ghetto + desperate need for protector -> great hulking clay defender. The strange bronze man (can’t remember his name, but I’m sure one of my Asimov books mentions him as being the first example of a robot, which is actually a pretty fair description) was also, IIRC, protecting the land that he was found on, although the story there focuses on the protagonists who need to get around the protector. Hrm. Made men as having a tie to the land–made of clay, protecting a specific terrain? Need to reread that Greek myth. On a similar note, the soldiers sprung up when the dragon’s teeth were planted in the earth.
…actually, that last sentence probably addresses every single metaphor I want to play with, except the birds and the Fowler.
(I can’t actually promise that any of this has a point. It’s mostly just an expression of one aspect of the context I’m putting a particular story into, so I have it down in a concrete form. Once it’s in a concrete form, it’s easier to refer to, build on, and change if I need to.)
Hrm. Cannot think of birds having any association with made men. I know that in Russian fairy tales, sending the raven off to get the water of death (which made a dead body whole again) and the dove off to get the water of life (which made the dead body not dead) showed up occasionally, but I think that was strictly restoring a previously living human to life.
Alright. Moving away from myths/legends/folklore of made men and towards the scarecrow…
- made by humans, yes;
- protective device, yes;
- associated with cultivation and so with earth and specific patches of land, yes;
- wards off birds, yes.
Thinking of them, still, as made of what I can only call natural fibers, albeit cultivated ones. The idea of a jack-o’lantern-headed scarecrow, while quite possibly impractical, is also one I really like. So it stays. (I was influenced by Bradbury’s depiction of Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud at an early age… the image of someone leaving this plane of existence by blowing out their own candle flame and then having the smoke curl out of ears and eyes and nose and mouth is, to me, incredibly powerful.)
Need to look at the associations of fire; off the top of my head, there’s just standard transformative stuff, the duality of creation and destruction, nothing particularly special.