ARCHETYPES IN LITERATURE
An archetype is a symbol, story, pattern, or character type that recurs frequently in literature and evokes
strong, often unconscious, associations in the reader. For example, the wicked witch and the enchanted
prince are character types widely dispersed through folk tales and literature. The story of a hero who
undertakes a dangerous quest, as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a recurrent story pattern.

Situation Archetypes
 The Quest — This motif describes 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 disability. (The Lion King. Idylls of the King)

 The Task - To save the kingdom, the win the fair lady, to identify himself so that he may reassume
    his rightful position, the hero must perform some nearly superhuman deed. This is NOT the same as
    the quest; it is a function of the ultimate goal. (Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone, Grendel is slain
    by Beowulf)

 The Journey - The journey sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary to
    restore fertility to the kingdom. Usually the hero descends into a real or psychological hell and is
    forced to discover the blackest truths, quite often concerning his faults. Once the hero is at this lowest
    point, he must accept personal responsibility to return to the world of the living. A second use of this
    pattern is the depiction of a limited number of travelers on a sea voyage, bus ride, or any other trip
    for the purpose of isolating them and using them as microcosm of society. (The Canterbury Tales.
    The Odyssey).

 The Initiation - This rite usually takes the form of an initiation into adult life. The adolescent comes
    into his/her maturity with new awareness and problems, along with new hope for the community. This
    awakening is often the climax of the story. (Huckleberry Finn. King Arthur).

 The Fall - This archetype describes a descent from a higher to a lower state of being. The experience
    involves a defilement and/or loss of innocence and bliss. The fall is often accompanied by expulsion
    from a kind of paradise as penalty for disobedience and moral transgression. (Adam and Eve,
    Lancelot and Guinevere).

 Death and Rebirth - 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, while evening and winter suggest old age or death.

 Nature vs. Mechanistic World - Nature is good, while technology and society are often evil (Mad
    Max, Terminator)

 The Battle between Good and Evil - Obviously the battle between two primal forces; Mankind shows
    eternal optimism in the continual portrayal of good triumphing over evil despite great odds. (Westerns,
    Satan and God in Paradise Lost).

 The Unhealable Wound - This wound is either physical or psychological and cannot be healed fully.
    This wound also indicates a loss of innocence. These wounds always ache and often drive the sufferer
    to desperate measures. (Lancelot's madness, Scar's envy)
 The Ritual — The actual ceremonies the initiate experiences that will mark his rite of passage into
    another state. The importance of ritual rites cannot be over stressed as they provide a clear signpost
    for the character's role in society as well as our own position in the world. (Weddings, baptisms,

 The 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. (Excalibur, Odysseus's bow, Thor's banner)

Symbolic Archetypes
 Light vs. Darkness - Light usually suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination. Darkness
   implies the unknown, ignorance, despair, or evil.

 Water vs. Desert - Because water is necessary to life and growth, it commonly appears as a birth
    or rebirth symbol. Water is used in baptismal services, which solemnizes spiritual births. Similarly,
    the appearance of rain in a work of literature can suggest a character's spiritual birth. Desert, in turn,
    implies the death of a soul and spirituality. (The sea and river images in The Odyssey.)

 Heaven vs. 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 the universe. (Dante's
    Inferno. The Divine Comedy)

 Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity - Some characters exhibit wisdom and understanding at
    situations instinctively as opposed to those supposedly in charge. Loyal retainers often exhibit this
    wisdom when they accompany the hero on the journey. (Animals, Sam in The Lord of the Rings).

 Haven vs. Wilderness - Places of safety contrast sharply against the dangerous wilderness. Heroes
    are often sheltered for a time to regain health and resources. (The Batcave, Camelot).

 Supernatural Intervention — The gods intervene on the side of the hero and sometimes against him.
    (The Bible. The Odyssey)

 Fire vs. Ice - Fire represents knowledge, light, life, and rebirth, while ice represents ignorance,
    darkness, sterility, and death. (Dante's Inferno, the phoenix).

Character Archetypes
 The Hero - This archetype 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 this 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. 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 meets a mysterious
   death, often at the top of a hill. His body is not buried, but nevertheless, he has one or more holy
   sepulchers. Characters who exemplify this archetype to a greater or lesser extent are Oedipus, Jason,
   Dionysus, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, Arthur, Robin Hood, and Beowulf.

 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. (Tarzan, Arthur, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz).

 The Initiates - These are young heroes or heroines who, prior to their quest, must endure some
    training and ceremony. They are usually innocent and often wear white. (Daniel from The Karate Kid.
    Luke Skywalker)

 Mentors — These individuals serve as teachers or counselors to the initiates. Sometimes they work as
    role models and often serve as a father or mother figure.(Merlin, Raffiki)

 Hunting Group of Companions - Loyal companions willing to face any number of perils in order to-
    be together. (Robin Hood and his Merry Men, The Knights of the Round Table).

 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. (Sam in The Lord of the Flies. Watson
    to Sherlock Holmes).

 Friendly Beast - This character shows nature on the side of the hero. (Lassie, Toto, Trigger).

 The Devil Figure — Evil incarnate, this character offers worldly goods, fame, or knowledge to the
    protagonist in exchange for possession of the soul. (Satan, Lucifer, Hitler).

 The Evil Figure with the Ultimate Good Heart ~ A redeemable devil figure saved by the nobility or
    love of the hero. (Green Knight, Scrooge).

 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. Their death often makes them a more
    powerful force in the society than when they lived. (Oedipus, Jews in the Holocaust)

 The Outcast — A figure who is banished from a social group for some crime {real or imagined)
    against his fellow man. The outcast is usually destined to become a wanderer from place to place,
    (cowboys, Cain, Timone and Pumba).

 The Creature of Nightmare — A monster usually summoned from the deepest, darkest part of the
    human psyche to threaten the desecration of the human body. (Werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein).

 The Woman Figure
    o   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. She is
        often depicted in earth colors and has large breasts and hips, symbolic of her childbearing
        capabilities. (Mother Nature, Mammy in Gone with the Wind).

    o   The Temptress - Characterized by her beauty, this woman is one to whom the protagonist is
        physically attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall. (Delilah, Cleopatra).

    o   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. (Dante's Beatrice,
        Petrarch's Laura).
    o    The Unfaithful Wife — A woman married to a man who she sees as dull or distant and is attracted
         to a more virile or interesting man. (Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina).

    o    The Damsel in Distress — The vulnerable woman who must be rescued by the hero, she often is
         used as a trap to ensnare the unsuspecting hero. (Guinevere, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty).

    o    The Star-Crossed Lovers - These two characters are engaged in a love affair that is fated to
         end tragically for one or both of them due to the disapproval of society, family, friends, or some
         tragic situation. (Romeo and Juliet, the Titanic lovers).

 The four elements of western culture are: AIR, EARTH, FIRE, and WATER. These four elements were
   believed to be essential to life.

   Air is considered active and male. It is light, mobile, and has the quality of dryness. Being that which
    we breathe, it is essential to life and can be thought of as the primary element. The Greek "spiro"
    means "breath," from this we get inspiration, as if the gods were filling us with the divine breath. Air is
    also connected with stormy wind (creation) and a medium for movement. Air can also be thought of as
    human freedom, cold and aggressive and memory. Often fresh night air is a sign of danger and a
    transition to renewed hope, steadfastness, salvation, stability, and/or tranquility.

   Earth is commonly seen nourishment, fertility, infinite creativity, and/or longevity. Earth represents
    matter, while heaven stands for spirit. As one of the four elements, earth can be the ground, stability, a
    foundation for life and for the structures of man and nature.

   Fire consumes, warms, and illuminates but can also bring pain and death; thus, its symbolic meaning
    varies wildly, depending upon the context of its use. It is often the symbol of inspiration, and yet it is
    also the predominant symbol of hell; fire is the only one of the four elements that humans can produce
    themselves, so it bridges the connection between mortals and gods. Rituals often involve an eternal
    flame, and kindling a fire is equated with birth and resurrection. Fire can also be seen as a force of
    purification. In a more modern context, forest fires, while looked upon as destructive and costly by
    modern society (and especially by the various media), are actually, from a scientific and ecological point
    of view quite positive as a mode of purification -- old growth that is burned away makes way for new
    growth to begin, and the entire ecosystem is rejuvenated. Many cultures view fire as a symbol of
    wisdom and knowledge.

   Water popularly represents life and associated with birth, fertility, and refreshment. Christians are
    baptized with or in water, symbolizing a purification of the soul, and an admission into the faith.
    However, water can also be destructive (as in the biblical flood which only Noah and his family
    escaped); water drowns and erodes, wearing away even the densest of stones given enough time.
    Water is also one of the four elements essential to life in traditional western philosophy. Its qualities are
    fluidity and cohesiveness. Flowing water usually represents change and the passage of time.

 Black represents a lack of color, the primordial void, emptiness. It can also mean sorrow or mourning,
   in the Christian tradition of wearing black to funerals. In this respect it can also symbolize death. Black
   is also linked to witchcraft (Black Magic), evil, and the unknown, as the predominant color worn by "evil
    witches" in colonial America. The stock market crash of 1929 was dubbed "Black Tuesday,” further
    linking the color with loss, depression, and despair.

   Blue is the color most often associated with issues of the spirit and intellect. It is the color of sky and
    heaven and also has strong connections with nearly all forms of water; for this reason it can have
    feminine, cool, and reflective qualities. Its link to the sky also connotes eternity and immensity, time and
    space. Blue may be truth (no clouds to hide it) and transparency; it is linked to loyalty, fidelity,
    constancy, and chastity. Many babies are born with blue eyes, thus innocence and purity can be
    attributed to the color. With relation to the moon, the color blue can represent tender love, passive
    qualities, and deep wisdom. However, when lights burn blue, they are associated with witchcraft,
    alluding to possible ghosts.

   Brown is often associated with the earth. It can mean spiritual death or “death” to the world because
    some groups of monks, friars, etc. wear brown. This color is often related to autumn and sadness. It
    also shows lack of emotion, sorrow, and barrenness. Characteristics of those inclined to brown are
    calmness, passivity, conservative, dependable, practical and earthly.

   Gold is illuminating, sacred, and durable; it is precious. It is almost universally associated with the sun,
    or the highest stage in spiritual development. It is heralded as embodying the powers of the earth, and it
    is light. It is the heart of the earth, so it is symbolic of superiority.

   Gray is often seen as neutral, depression, and humility. Ashes are usually gray in color, and, therefore,
    a natural correlation exists between the two. Christianity commonly views gray as symbolic of death of
    the body while the soul remains eternal.

   Green is a dualistic color. It can represent envy, evil, and trickery, and/or growth, renewal, and life, as
    in lush vegetation. It represents resurrection, permanence, and love, and was the color of Aphrodite,
    Greek love goddess, born from the green sea.

   Orange has become predominantly a symbol of fertility; it is most often linked to flame and fire,
    conveying their qualities. Orange can also mean luxury.

   Purple is derived from the combination of red and blue; it unites red's fiery masculinity with blue's cool
    femininity. Purple is often used to represent royalty, imperial power, justice, and/or truth. Dried blood
    has a purple hue to it, and bruises on the flesh are often purple; in this respect it can be a sign of
    physical injury.

   Red is an emotionally charged color. It is associated with the sun and all gods of war, anger, blood-lust,
    vengeance, and fire. It can also mean love and passion.

   Silver often represents the moon, virginity, purity, the queen.

   White may be defined either as the absence of all color or the presence of all colors of the light
    spectrum, and can represent either innocence or the ultimate goal of purification. White is often the
    heavenly, while black is the underworld. It is light, air, life, holiness, love, redemption. The white flag is a
    symbol of surrender or friendship.

   Yellow often stands for light, the sun's rays, intellect, faith, and/or goodness. However, yellow can also
    be a sign of cowardice, betrayal, and/or jealousy. Insects that bear yellow and black stripes are often
    poisonous or attempting to mimic another poisonous insect, and in this respect yellow can be seen as a
    warning, and/or protection for its bearer. In medical terms, a yellow flag means quarantine.

 The circle is a universal symbol with extensive meaning. It represents the notions of totality,
   wholeness, original perfection, the self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement. God is a
   circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. It implies an idea of
   movement and symbolizes the cycle of time, the perpetual motion of everything that moves, the planets'
   journey around the sun, the circle of the zodiac, the great rhythm of the universe. The circle is also zero
   in our system of numbering and symbolizes potential

   The cube is a three-dimensional square and is a symbol of stability and permanence. It represents the
    final stage of a cycle of immobility and as the truth because it looks the same from any perspective.
    The cube is the squaring of a circle. Scientifically, the cube usually represents salt. It is the earth: a
    square plus the four elements plus three dimensions.

   The square is the earth, as opposed to the heavens; it is geometric perfection, static, denoting honesty
    and straightforwardness, morality and integrity. It is a symbol of constancy.

   The triangle is one of the simplest and most fundamental geometric symbols; it is often representative
    of the Holy Trinity. The triangle can also be a symbol for fire.

 The curve gives a sense of more energy and motion.
 East is the direction of the rising sun and the dawn and is commonly associated with beginnings, birth,
   spring, and/or renewal. The east is a place where magicians often emigrate from and can hold
   characteristics of wisdom. The right (favorable) half of the body is representative of the east and is s
   opposed to the west, sinister half.

   North is most widely associated with cold, obscurity, winter, and old age.

   South is commonly linked to the noonday sun, summer, youth, and warmth.

   West is the direction of the setting sun and dusk, linking it with death, endings, the season of fall, and
    middle age. In the mid nineteenth century western culture witnessed westward expansion and the gold
    rush, so this context allows us to see west as opportunity, hope, and adventure.

 0 - Zero is non-existence, numbers, the unlimited, the circle; it is the absence of all, without quantity or
   quality, the perfect form. The zero is the ultimate mystery, the incomprehensible absolute.

   1 - The most appropriate symbol of unity is the imperceptible mathematical point which is arbitrarily
    situated at the intersection of two lines or in the center of a circle, and which, through being displaced in
    space, begins a line, or creates a surface, or gives an idea of a third dimension. A point is one on the
    verge of generating everything. The number 1 symbolizes man, erect, a standing stone, a pillar, a
    vertical stick.

   2 - Anything in twos shows a strong duality in Christ – both God and man.
   3 - The power of three is universal as heaven, earth and waters; it is man as body, soul and spirit; birth,
    life and death; beginning, middle, end; past, present, future. Three is the heavenly number representing
    the soul, as four is the body; three introduces the all-embracing Godhead. Folklore has three wishes,
    three tries, three princes or princesses or witches. The chief symbol of three is the triangle; it is the
    Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

   4 - The number four shows a strong expression of self and is a powerful symbol of earth, i.e., 4
    elements, 4 seasons, 4 stages of man, 4 directions, 4 corners of the world.

   5 - The number five represents human perfection because a man with outstretched arms and legs
    forms a pentagon with the head. There are five senses, five fingers per hand and five toes per foot; the
    five-pointed star, pointing upwards, symbolizes individuality and spiritual aspiration. When it points
    downwards, it represents witchcraft and black magic. This number has much Christian meaning as well:
    5 wounds of Christ, 5 letters of Jesus.

   6 - Six is a number that has evil connotations and equates with the devil and ambivalence.

   7 - Seven is the perfect number since it merges the number three (the Trinity) with the number four
    (earth). For example, there are 7 days of creation, 7 days of the week, we are to forgive 7 x 70, 7
    colors of the rainbow.

   8 - Eight is an attempt to bring an earthly creature into a spiritual circle; baptismal fonts are eight-sided.

   9 - The number nine is magical because you cannot get rid of nine. Every multiple of 9 reproduces a 9
    -- (2 x 9 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9 …)

   10 - Ten returns to order and oneness.

   12 – Twelve is a cosmic order (3 x 4). There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 brothers of Joseph, 12 months,
    12 zodiac signs.

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