Archetypes in The Heros Journey What is an Archetype? In literature, an archetype is a familiar character, an action, or a situation that represents universal patterns of human nature. An archetype may be a character, a theme, a symbol or even a setting. For example, what does the symbol archetype rain mean?
Re-birth, cleansing, or sadness Function of Archetypes Archetypes can present a sense of unity for its readers because they can identify familiar characters and situations in their own social and cultural context. Minor differences between archetypal situations and characters can reveal a great deal about cultural values.
For example, we examined archetypal characters in the three Red Riding Hood stories earlier this week. The variations between the tales helped us gather information about the cultures and their values. Three Major Kinds of Archetypes Situational Archetypes
(think rain as symbol of rebirth) Character Archetypes Symbol Archetypes Situational ArchetypesRecurring situations within literature and other story-telling mediums that help establish universal themes. The Heros Journey The journey sends the hero in search for some truth of information necessary to restore fertility, justice, and/or harmony to the kingdom. The journey includes
the series of trials and tribulations the hero faces along the way. See the stages of the heros journey. Situational ArchetypesRecurring situations within literature and other story-telling mediums that help establish universal themes. The Coming of Age (Initiation) Story This situation refers to a moment, usually psychological, in which an individual comes into maturity. He or she gains a new awareness into the nature of circumstances and problems and understands his or her
responsibility for trying to resolve the dilemma. Situational ArchetypesRecurring situations within literature and other story-telling mediums that help establish universal themes. Battle Between Good and Evil These situations pit obvious forces which represent good and evil against one another. Typically, good ultimately triumphs over evil despite great odds. Situational ArchetypesRecurring situations within
literature and other story-telling mediums that help establish universal themes. Supernatural Intervention the gods intervene on the side of the hero or against him/her. Situational ArchetypesRecurring situations within literature and other story-telling mediums that help establish universal themes. Cinderellas evil step-sisters do not have the wisdom that she has
Wisdom vs. Stupidity This situation refers to a moment when a character displays natural wisdom and intellectual superiority over someone who has more power. Archetypal Characters The Herothis character is the one who needs (or may be forced) to fulfill a necessary task and who will restore fertility, harmony, and justice to a community. The Innocentthis is a type of hero who is taken away from his/her home as a youth and raised by strangers. He is she later returns to his/her original community as a
stranger and is able to recognize solutions to current problems. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) Harry Potter The Temptressshe is characterized by physical beauty, and her physical attractiveness may bring the heros downfall. Ursula from The Little Mermaid
Mal from Inception (her name literally means bad in French) The Creature of Nightmarethis is a monster who is summoned from the darkest parts of the heros world to threaten the lives of the hero/heroine. Monsters from Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, etc. So whats the point of learning archetypes? Remember, archetypes help people recognize common patterns in stories. Small variations of familiar symbols, character types, and situations within stories
help us discover culturally specific values, practices, and beliefs. Therefore, as we read selected stories as a class and you read your choice text, consider how characters, situations, and potentially symbols you encounter may fit an existing archetype. Also, question the purpose and meaning when authors create stories that deviate from or alter familiar archetypes as you read.
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