 Greek roots: arche + typos = “first type” (the
original pattern from which all other copies are
 Carl Jung (1875-1961), an associate of Freud’s,
developed the archetypal system of literary
analysis which is based on his concept of the
collective unconscious. This is a mental record of
all who have existed before, in other words,
genetic memory.
 Jung asserts that archetypes represent images or
thematic patterns which are so frequently repeated
(in myth, folklore, religion, literature, etc.) that
they have taken on a universally symbolic power.
Three Basic Qualities
 Jung asserts that there are three basic
qualities which characterize archetypes:
primordial, universal, and recurrent.
 Primordial is the most fundamental of
qualities in which archetypes represent
primeval concepts that have existed since
the dawning of the species.
 In other words, instinctual! For example,
migratory habits, food gathering, seeking
shelter, ritual dances, fear of predators, etc.
 Archetypes are unaffected by time,
situation, community, or culture. They
apply to every generation of every culture.
 Archetypes repeat themselves generation
after generation, despite time or place. Sort
of like the beast that, when you chop off the
head, another grows in its place. This comes
from the basic human need for defining
one’s place in the group or society.
Three Types of Archetypes
 Archetypes are sorted into three categories:
– Character
– Situational
– Symbolic
Character Archetypes
 The Hero: Often, the hero’s life can be divided
into 6 stages:
– Stage 1: Virgin mother or unusual conception; attempt
is made to kill him at birth.
– Stage 2: Reared by foster parents, little is known of
– Stage 3: Returns to the birth place; wins great battle or
solves big problem.
– Stage 4: Becomes king, marries princess.
– Stage 5: Loses favor with gods, driven from the city.
– Stage 6: Mysterious death (often on top of hill), no
burial, but long after worshipped.
(King Arthur, Oedipus, Jesus Christ)
The Young Man from the
 Hero is raised by strangers (or extended
family rather than parents)
 Returns to birthplace to solve big problem
 King Arthur, Luke Skywalker, Harry
The Initiate
 Young hero goes through training and
ceremony before quest.
 Usually innocent and often wears white.
 King Arthur, Telemachus, Luke
Skywalker, Harry Potter
 He/she is a teacher of the initiate
 Teaches skills by example
 Often takes on persona of role model or
father/mother figure
 Merlin, Athena (as Mentor), Gandalf,
Professor Dumbledore
Father/Son Conflict
 Tension caused by separation during hero’s
childhood or conflict when they meet again.
 Oedipus and Laios, Luke Skywalker and
Darth Vader, Harry Potter and James
(was James a bully???)
Hunting Group of Companions
 Loyal companions who fight together
 The Knights of the Round Table, Robin
Hood’s Merry Men, Ron and Hermione
for Harry,
Loyal Retainers
 Servants to the hero who willingly fight
with or help the hero or another main
character. The loyal retainer’s duty is to
protect the hero and/or reflect the hero’s
 Sam Wise to Frodo, Watson to Sherlock
Holmes, C3PO and R2D2 to Luke, Robin
to Batman, Dobby and Kreacher, Harry’s
House-Elves (though Dobby was
technically free).
Friendly Beast
 Animal companion of the hero.
 Symbolic of nature siding with the hero.
 Toto, Lassie, Hedwig, Trigger
The Devil Figure
 Very evil character who offers worldly
goods, fame, or knowledge for another’s
 Satan, Voldemort, Wicked Witch of the
West, the Emperor in Star Wars
Evil Figure with Ultimately Good
 Character who is evil or involved in
wrongdoing, but later becomes good, saved
by the love and/or nobility of the hero.
 Scrooge, Professor Snape, Green Knight,
Darth Vader
 An animal or human whose death in a
public ceremony gets rid of a sin or curse in
the group.
 The death often makes the person more
powerful in death than in life.
 Oedipus, Cedric Diggory, Dumbledore,
Boromir (Lord of the Rings)
 Figure who is banished for a crime, real or
 Often becomes a wanderer.
 Cain, Sir Lancelot, Sirius Black and
Creature of Nightmare
 A very scary monster who threatens the life
of the hero.
 Often it is a perversion of the human body.
 Werewolves, vampires, huge snakes,
Grendel, Fluffy, Basilisk, Dementors,
Voldemort, Dracula, Frankenstein
The Women
Female Archetypes
The Earthmother
 Offers spiritual or emotional nourishment to
people who need it.
 Often depicted in earth colors with large
breasts/hips symbolizing childbearing
 Virgin Mary, Mother Earth, Mrs.
Weasely, Hera, Mammy in Gone with the
 Sexy, sensual woman who attracts a man
and causes his downfall; the femme fatale
 Delilah, Cleopatra, Morgana, Sirens,
Aphrodite, Circe
Damsel in Distress / The Virgin
 Vulnerable (virginal) woman who is saved
by the hero
 Often used as bait by the villain
 Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Princess
Platonic Ideal
 A source of inspiration and a spiritual ideal
 Respected for intelligence and spirituality
rather than physical looks.
 Athena, the Virgin Mary, Hermione,
Princess Leia
Unfaithful Wife
 Sees husband as mundane
 Seeks passion from a younger, sexier man
 Guinevere, Mme. Bovary, Anna
Star-Crossed Lovers
 Two characters madly in love, but are not
meant to be together and, so, meet tragedy.
 Friends, family, or society disapprove of
their romance.
 Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet,
Lancelot and Guinevere, Mark Antony
and Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor and
Richard Burton (haha)
Situational Archetypes
 The Quest
– The search for someone or some special object
which (if found and brought back) will restore
the land and/or a ruler’s health.
– The Holy Grail, Deliverance of the Ring:
The Lord of the Rings, Rescue of the
Princess, Search for Horcruxes
The Task
 Deeds done to save the kingdom, win the
fair lady, perform some nearly superhuman
deed to win a position of power.
 Arthur pulls Excaliber, Psyche’s four
tasks to win back Cupid, Harry Potter
and the Seven Chambers – and the
Basilisk – and killing Lord Voldemort
The Journey (to the Underworld)
 (A) The hero goes into hell (real or
psychological), forced to discover black
truths (often about himself), must accept
responsibility to leave hell.
 (B) Group of people goes on an isolated trip
and is used as a microcosm of society
 The Odyssey, The Canterbury Tales (B),
Disney’s Hercules, The Black Cauldron,
Atlantis, Harry must face Voldemort in the
forest and face his death.
The Initiation
 Usually an introduction into adult life
 The adolescent comes into maturity with
new awareness, problems, and hope for the
 Huckleberry Finn, Arthur, Harry Potter
(hears and understands the prophecy), Luke
The Fall
 A descent from a higher to lower state of
being because of a wrong action.
 Often the fall is accompanied by loss of
innocence and/or being forced to leave a
kind of paradise.
 Lucifer, Adam and Eve, Lancelot and
Guinevere, King Lear, Harry being
accused of lying about Voldemort’s
Death and Rebirth
 Real or symbolic
 Life cycle often parallels nature cycle.
 Morning and Springtime represent birth,
youth, or rebirth; evening and winter
represent old age and death; autumn is
equated with aging and wisdom, summer is
the prime of life, etc.
 Death of Bambi’s mother in Winter; the
Phoenix; Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Nature vs. the Mechanistic World
 Nature is often regarded as good, whereas
science, technology, and society are evil.
 The Terminator, Jurassic Park, Planet of
the Apes, The Time Machine, Rappacini’s
 Austin Powers (yeah, Baby!)
Battle between Good and Evil
 Battle between two primal forces
 Mankind shows eternal optimism in the
portrayal of good triumphing over evil
despite great odds.
 The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry
vs. Voldemort
The Unhealable Wound
 Either physical or psychological and cannot
be healed fully
 Often indicates a loss of innocence
 Wounds ache and often drive the sufferer to
desperate measures.
 Frodo’s Wound, Harry Potter’s scar, The
Sun Also Rises
The Ritual
 Ceremonies which mark the initiate’s
passage into another stage of life
 Weddings, graduations, coronations,
medal ceremony in Star Wars IV
The Magic Weapon
 Symbolizes the extraordinary quality of the
hero because no one else can use the
weapon to its full potential.
 Usually given by a mentor figure.
 Excaliber; Thor’s hammer; Harry’s cloak
and wand, and the Deathly Hallows
Symbolic Archetypes
 Light vs. Darkness
– Light represents hope, renewal, or intellectual
– Darkness represents the unknown, ignorance, or
Water vs. Desert
 Water is necessary to live, and it is often a
symbol of birth or rebirth
 Deserts are symbolic of death or hardship
 Nile River, Lady of the Lake, the rains at
the end of Lion King, Luke’s home planet
Heaven vs. Hell
 Man often associates hard to reach locations
with dwelling places of supernatural forces.
 Skies/mountains are often the homes for
forces of good.
 Bowels of the earth/underground, valleys,
etc. are inhabited by diabolical forces.
 Mt. Olympus, swamp/underwater cave for
Innate Wisdom vs. Educated
 Some characters often show more wisdom
and understanding than those in charge.
 Loyal retainers often exhibit this wisdom as
they travel with the hero.
 R2D2 and C3PO; Harry and Hermione
Haven vs. Wilderness
 Places of safety contrast sharply with the
dangerous wilderness.
 Heroes often require respite in a haven to
regain health and resources.
 Hospital wing/Weasleys’ Home; The Lord
of the Rings – Rivendale (Elves’ Home);
the Millennium Falcon
Fire vs. Ice
 Fire represents knowledge, light, life/rebirth
 Ice is symbolic of ignorance, darkness,
sterility, and death
 Stranger’s fire in the wilderness; Cold, dark
castle of evil
Supernatural Intervention
 The gods/supernatural forces step in on the
side of the hero or sometimes against him.
 The Illiad, The Odyssey, Obiwan-Kenobi’s
voice calling to Luke, Dumbledore’s
presence at KingsCross Station and his
parents and mentors appearance with the
Deathly Hallows
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