Archetypes in Literature

Archetypes in Literature

Archetypes in Literature Definition of Archetype A recurrent character type, plot type, or symbol, which is identifiable in a wide variety of works of literature. It must cross cultural boundaries and time boundaries. An archetype is the first real example

or prototype of something (as the Model T is the prototype of the modern automobile). In this sense an archetype can be considered the ideal model, the supreme type or the perfect image something (Brunel 111112, 114). Examples of Archetypes Character Archetypes Hero (think of the classic hero journey & qualities of hero) The main character leaves his or her community to go on an adventure,

performing deeds that bring honor to the community (Herz and Gallo 121). The courageous figure, the one whos always running in and saving the day. Dartagnan from Three Musketeers John Wayne in most of his movies Hercules Luke Skywalker

Mother/Father Figure Mother Figure (surrogate mother) comforts and directs child, especially when he or she is confused and needs guidance (Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath). Father Figure the protector and leader (Mufasa from The Lion King). The Great Teacher/Mentor

The Wise Old Man/Woman protects or helps main character when he or she faces challenges. Sometimes they work as role models and often serve as father or mother figure. They teach by example the skills necessary to survive the journey and quest. Examples Obi Wan Kenobi

Rafiki The Innocent Child/Youth or inexperienced adult The innocent, fearing abandonment, seeks safety. Their greatest strength is their trust and optimism

that endears them to others and so gain help and support on their quest. Their main danger is that they may be blind to their obvious weaknesses or deny them. They also may become dependent on others to fulfill their heroic task. Frodo Lord of the Rings Dorothy The Wizard of Oz Scapegoat/Sacrificial Victim The one who gets blamed for everything, regardless of whether he or she is at fault.

Snowball from George Orwells Animal Farm Enchantress/Temptress Characterized by sensuous beauty, this woman is one to whom the protagonist is physically attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall. May appear as a witch or vampire . The Sirens in Mythology Abigail Williams in The Crucible

Villain The antagonist, especially in opposition to the hero Bad Guy Examples: The Big Bad Wolf The Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk

Trickster A trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior Road Runner Evil Figure

The Devil or Serpent This character represents evil incarnate. He or she may offer worldly goods, fame, or knowledge to the protagonist in exchange for possession of the soul or integrity. This figures main aim is to oppose the hero in his or her quest. Voldemort Other Character Archetypes

The Underdog The Sidekick The Damsel in Distress The Narcissist The Bad Boy The Free Spirit

Symbolic Archetypes Garden - Paradise, innocence, unspoiled beauty. Desert Death, hopelessness. Seasons Spring (rebirth), Summer (life, romance), Fall (death/dying), Winter (death). Tree Represents life and knowledge Mountains and Peaks

Highest peak is place to see far Place to gain great insight Rivers and Oceans

Crossing river may symbolize new territory Rivers can be boundaries or borders and on the other side is something new or different May represent human life or time passing Death and/or rebirth Timelessness and eternity Waves may symbolize

measure of time Water/Fountain Stands for purification; the sprinkling of water (baptism) washes away sin. Water gives new life (Knapp 32). Serpent (snake/worm) Stands for evil, corruption, sensuality, destruction Colors

Red: blood, sacrifice, passion, disorder Green: growth, hope, fertility, envy, sympathy Blue: highly positive, tranquility, security Black: darkness, chaos, mystery, death, evil White: light, purity, innocence Yellow: enlightenment, wisdom

Plot Archetypes (actions/events) Journey The protagonist takes a journey, usually physical but sometimes emotional, during which he or she learns something about himself or herself or finds meaning in his or her life as well as acceptance in a community (Herz and Gallo 112). Quests

Quest for material wealth Quest for security, as a secure place to live Quest for kin Quest for global good, such as when a kingdom is threatened Quest for self, for self-identity or self-assurance Initiation into Adulthood/ Coming of Age This is the process by which a

character is brought into another sphere of influence, usually into adulthood. Huck Finn, Scout grows up in To Kill a Mockingbird Violation of Taboo An act forbidden by social custom and/or law Romeo and Juliet marry against their parents wishes. The Test or Trial

In the transition from one stage of life to another, the main character experiences a rite of passage through growth and change; he or she experiences a transformation (Herz and Gallo 115). The Crucible (Crucible means severe test or trial) Birth/Death and Rebirth Through pain and suffering the

character overcomes feelings of despair, and through a process of self-realization is reborn (Herz and Gallo 110). Many religious traditions have this type of story; the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ is an example. Works Cited Brunel, Pierre. Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print. Franz, Marie-Louise von. Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales. Toronto: Inner City, 1997. Print.

Herz, Sarah K., and Donald R. Gallo. From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges Between Young Adult Literature and the Classics. 2nd ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2005. Print.

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