Archetypes: The Building Blocks of Stories by RRAk6e


Building Blocks
• People who had no contact with each other at all
  formed myths to explain natural phenomena such as
  great floods and the creation of the world as well as
  to answer such questions as why we die and why we
  are born.
• These fantasy images of the primitive mind are so
  alike for all cultures that Jung calls them the
  Collective Unconscious.
• They remain part of every human unconscious mind
  as dreams of fantasy and fear. They are living
  psychic forces which demand to be taken seriously.
• Jung believes we can never legitimately be cut loose
  from our archetypal foundations or we will go mad
  and become suicidal.
Definition of Archetype

• Archetype is a Greek word meaning “original
  pattern, or model.”
• In literature and art an archetype is a
  character, an event, a story or an image that
  recurs in different works, in different cultures
  and in different periods of time.
• Can you think of any stories or image patterns
  that have been repeated in movies, books, or
  even commercials?
     How many stories do you
        encounter daily?
• Think about the number of stories you
  encounter daily either reading, viewing, or
  listening. This would include all of the
  following categories:

• books, short stories, newspaper stories,
 movies, sitcoms, tv shows, video games, news
 reports, magazine stories, etc.
• They are the basic building blocks of stories
  that all writers use to create a world to which
  readers can escape.
• Without communicating about archetypes, all
  cultures around the world use them to build
  their stories. This is called the Collective
  Unconscious (term coined by Carl Jung).
• Examples of archetypes are: the hero, the
  damsel in distress, the battle between good
  and evil, etc.
• To explain natural phenomenon such as
  great floods and the creation of the world
• To answer such questions such as why we
  are born and why we die
• To help us escape reality by entering a
  world where the good guy wins, the forces
  of evil are defeated, and love conquers all
• To help define the roles of good and evil
  such as the hero and the villain so that we
  might recognize them in reality
The movie opens…. the young, beautiful actress is on a
  tirade about how much she hates, and she means
  hates, detests, loathes and every other adjective in
  between, the new guy she works with (who happens
  to be drop dead good looking and single). He pokes
  fun at her and frequently stops by her desk. She fumes
  silently. She yells at him about how she can’t stand
  the sight of him. He laughs and says he can’t stand her
What’s going to happen?
How do you know this?
     Archetypes are universal.
 Stereotypes are regional/cultural.

1) are not individual, but the part we share
   with all humanity
2) are the inherited part of being human
   which connects us to our past and goes
   beyond our personal experience to a
   common source
3) are not directly knowable, but instead
   express themselves in forms
ARCHETYPES (continued) :

4) grow out of man’s social, psychological,
    and biological being
5) are universal. From the Roman gladiator
    to the astronaut, they remain the same.
6) are recurrent, appearing in slightly altered
    forms to take present day situations and
    relate them to the past in order to find
    meaning in a contemporary world.
  3 Categories of Archetypes


Situational Archetypes
These are common situations, or plots, seen in
  literature, movies, television, etc. over and over
  throughout history and cultures. Chances are,
  if you’re watching a movie that follows one of
  these situational archetypes, you know what’s
  going to happen in the end when the movie is
  in the opening five minutes.
Examples include:
1) The Quest – The search for someone or
   some talisman which, when found and
   brought back, will restore fertility to a
   wasted land, the desolation of which is
   mirrored by a leader’s illness and
2) The Task – To save the kingdom, to win
   the fair lady, to identify himself so that he
   may reassume his rightful position, the
   hero must perform some nearly
   superhuman deed.
3) The Initiation – Usually taking the form of
  an initiation into life, it may be the
  depiction of an adolescent coming into
  maturity and adulthood with all the
  attendance problems and responsibilities
  that this process involves. An awakening
  awareness, or an increased perception of
  the world and the people in it usually form
  the climax of this archetypal situation.
4) The Journey – Usually combined with any
  or all of the foregoing situational
  archetypes, the journey is used to send
  the hero in search of information or some
  intellectual truth, possibly a descent into
  hell, or a limited number of travelers for
  the purpose of isolating them and using
  them as a microcosm of society.
5) The Fall – This describes a descent from
  a higher to a lower state of being. The
  experience involves spiritual defilement
  and/or a loss of innocence and bliss. The
  fall is also usually accompanied by
  expulsion from a kind of paradise as
  penalty for disobedience and moral
6) Death and Resurrection – The most common
  of all situational archetypes, this motif grows
  out of the parallel between the cycle of nature
  and the cycle of life. Thus morning and
  springtime represent birth, youth, or rebirth;
  evening and winter suggest old age or death.
  Anthropologists believe that fertility rites and
  vegetative rituals usually took place in the
  spring because this is the time of physical
  regeneration of nature, an appropriate time to
  enact ritualistic statements of spiritual rebirth
  and resurrection. Poems of death and
  despondency are usually set at night or in the
7) Nature vs. the Mechanistic World – Nature is good
  while technology and society are often evil.
8) Battle between Good & Evil – Obviously, the battle
  between 2 primal forces. This archetype is easily
  found in cartoons.
9) The Unhealable Wound – This wound is either
  physical or psychological and cannot be healed fully.
  This would also indicate a loss of innocence. These
  wounds always ache and often drive the sufferer to
  desperate measures.
10) The Ritual – The actual ceremonies the initiate
  experiences that will mark his rite of passage into
  another state, such as a Bar Mitzvah, baptism,
  becoming a knight or king.
Character Archetypes
These are the “stereotype” characters that you
 see over and over again. You’ve seen these
 characters throughout different cultures and
 over different eras in history.
     Examples of these popular archetypes are:
1) The Hero – this one is so well defined that
  the life of the protagonist can be clearly
  divided into a series of well-marked
  adventures which strongly suggest a
  ritualistic pattern. Traditionally, the hero’s
  mother is a virgin, the circumstances of his
  conception are unusual, and at birth some
  attempt is made to kill him. He is,
  however, spirited away and reared by
  foster parents. We know almost nothing of
  his childhood, but upon reaching manhood
  he returns to his future kingdom.
1) The Hero – this one is so well defined that
  the life of the protagonist can be clearly
  divided into a series of well-marked
  adventures which strongly suggest a
  ritualistic pattern. Traditionally, the hero’s
  mother is a virgin, the circumstances of his
  conception are unusual, and at birth some
  attempt is made to kill him. He is,
  however, spirited away and reared by
  foster parents. We know almost nothing of
  his childhood, but upon reaching manhood
  he returns to his future kingdom.
1) The Hero continued – After a victory over
  the king or a wild beast, he marries a
  princess, becomes king, reigns uneventfully,
  but later loses favor with the gods. He is
  then driven from the city after which he
  receives a mysterious death, often at the
  top of a hill. His body is not buried, but
  nevertheless he has one or more holy
  sepulchers. The hero may not fulfill ALL of
  these circumstances, but will fulfill at least
2) The Young Man from the Provinces – This
  hero is spirited away as a young man and
  raised by strangers. He later returns to his
  home and heritage where he is a stranger who
  can see new problems and new solutions.
3) The Initiates – These are young heroes or
  heroines who, prior to their quest, must endure
  some training and ceremony.
4) Mentors - These individuals serve as teachers
  or counselors to the initiates. Sometimes they
  work as role models and often serve as a
  father/mother figure.
5) Mentor / Pupil Relationship – The mentor
  teaches, often by example, the initiate the
  skills necessary to survive the quest and
  rule successfully.
6) Father / Son Conflict – Tension often
  results from separation during childhood or
  from an external source when the
  individuals meet as men and where the
  mentor often has a higher place in the
  affections of the hero than the natural
7) Hunting Group of Companions – Loyal
  companions willing to face any number of
  perils in order to be together.
8) Loyal Retainers – These individuals are
  somewhat like servants who are heroic
  themselves. Their duty is to protect the
  hero and reflect the nobility of the hero.
9) The Friendly Beast – An animal that
  befriends man.
10) Evil Figure with an Ultimately Good
  Heart – Redeemable devil figure who is
  saved by the nobility (or love) of the hero.
11) The Scapegoat – An animal or more
  usually a human whose death in a public
  ceremony expiates some taint or sin that has
  been visited upon the community.
12) The Outcast – A figure who is banished
  from a social group for some crime against
  his fellow man. The outcast is usually
  destined to become a wanderer from place to
13) The Devil Figure – Evil incarnate, this
  character offers worldly goods, fame, or
  knowledge in exchange for possession of
14) The Woman Figure –
  a. The Earth Mother – Symbolic of fruition,
  abundance, and fertility, this character
  traditionally offers spiritual and emotional
  nourishment to those with whom she comes
  in contact.
  b. The Temptress – characterized by
  sensuous beauty, this woman is one to
  whom the protagonist is physically attracted
  and who ultimately brings about his downfall
14) The Woman Figure continued –
c. The Platonic Ideal – This woman is a source
of inspiration and a spiritual ideal, for whom the
protagonist or author has an intellectual rather
than a physical attraction.
d. The Unfaithful Wife – Woman, married to a
man she sees as full and unimaginative, is
physically attracted to a more virile and
desirable man.
14) The Woman Figure –
e. The Damsel in Distress – The vulnerable
woman who must be rescued by the hero, she
is often used as a way to ensnare the hero.
15) The Creature of Nightmare – A monster,
usually summoned from the deepest, darkest
part of the human psyche, threatens the hero
and/or heroine.
Symbolic Archetypes:
These are symbols (something which represents
  something else) that have occurred over and over
  again throughout time and in various different
  cultures. These symbols have always represented the
  same things; that is what makes them an archetype
  and what makes us recognize them as symbols when
  we see them.
These can also be settings that are seen over and over
  throughout literature. Although the settings may
  vary a little over time or as cultures change, the basic
  premise of the setting is the same.
The collective unconsciousness makes
 certain associations between the outside
 world and psychic experiences. These
 associations become enduring and are
 passed on from one generation to the
 next. Some of the more common
 archetypal associations are as follows:

1) Light / Darkness – Light usually suggests
  hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination;
  darkness implies the unknown, ignorance,
  or despair.
2) Water / Desert – Because water is
  necessary to life and growth, it commonly
  appears as a birth or rebirth symbol. It is
  archetypically significant, anthropologists
  believe. Water is used in baptismal
  services, which solemnize spiritual births.
  Similarly, the appearance of rain in a work
  of literature can suggest a character’s
  spiritual birth. Conversely, the aridity of
  the desert is often associated with spiritual
  sterility and desiccation.
3) Heaven / Hell – Man has traditionally
  associated parts of the universe not
  accessible to him with the dwelling places
  of the primordial forces that govern his
  world. The skies and mountaintops house
  his gods; the bowels of the earth contain
  the diabolic forces that inhabit his universe.
4) Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity –
  Some characters exhibit wisdom and
  understanding of situations instinctively as
  opposed to those supposedly in charge. A
  hero often needs the guidance of innate
5) Haven vs. Wilderness – Places of safety
  contrast sharply against the dangerous
  wilderness. Heroes are often found in
  unexpected places. Wilderness threatens
6) Supernatural Intervention – The gods
  intervene on the side of the hero or
  sometimes against him.
7) Magic Weapon – This symbolizes the
  extraordinary quality of the hero because no
  one else can wield the weapon or use it to
  its full potential. It is usually given by a
  mentor figure.
   Now, take what you know about
archetypes and apply them to everyone’s
            favorite Ogre….
Hero                Shrek
        Literally doing superhuman deeds

Quest    Find/Rescue Princess

Task      Get his swamp back
        from the fairy creatures
          Light v Darkness        The castle is dark to represent evil;
                                 Fiona is first seen in a ray of light; as
                                soon as they escape, they emerge into
                                 daytime since they have escaped evil
Death and Rebirth               when they escape the dragon,
                                morning is dawning suggesting hope
                                and rebirth
Star Crossed Lovers             Dragons and Donkeys aren’t supposed
                                to be together, neither are ogres and
Evil Figure with a Good Heart   Dragon appears at first as an Evil
                                Figure, especially with the remains of
                                the knights, but Donkey saves her and
                                converts her to good
The Journey                     Shrek and Donkey face their fears and
                                conquer the dragon, finding Fiona to
                                accomplish their task

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