Archetypes Our connection to stories

Our connection to stories
What is an Archetype?
An original model after which other things
are similarly patterned
 An image, story pattern, character type,
representation, or recurring idea
 It evokes strong associations to the reader
or observer
 It is derived from the “human condition”
What should I look for to
identify archetypes?
A shared idea with all humanity
An inherited part of the human being that
connects us all
A constant and universal idea
Though it may differ from place to place, the
concept is worldwide
These are often the same ideas you look for with
a motif
What kinds of Archetypes
are there?
There are three main archetypes:
We will begin with Character
Character Archetypes
A person or being that
serves as a representative
of a greater ideal
Characteristics, actions,
abilities, or powers
contribute to the archetype
There are many different
archetypes present in
Common Character Archetypes
The Sage
Star-Crossed Lovers
The Innocent
The Scapegoat
The Devil Figure
The Outlaw or
The Hero
The Ruler
The Initiates
Loyal Retainers
The Outcast
The Evil Figure with
the Ultimately Good
Earth Mother
Just to name a few…
Character Archetypes: The Hero
Traditionally, the
protagonist of a story
Often his past is a
He is the champion,
king, leader or savior of
Endures pain and
sorrow that all leads to a
greater good
Character Archetypes: The Sage
Serves as a teacher or
counselor to the initiate
or future hero
Usually the “Wise Old
Helps the hero see his
potential or inner
Sometimes a Father or
Mother figure
Guides the Hero on his
Quest tied to the motif
The Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi
Character Archetypes: The Orphan
Young heroes who must
endure training
The Orphan can
ultimately become a good
character or a bad one
Must complete some type
of an internal journey to
determine their ultimate
place in the world
They are Innocent and
often wear white
(sometimes only
In order to become a Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker
must come to terms with who he is and choose to
be a Jedi or be tempted by the “Dark side of the
Character Archetypes:
Star-Crossed Lovers
These two characters
are engaged in a love
Fated to end tragically
Society, family, or
friends do not approve
of the relationship
Sometimes these
characters can also be
ill-fated friendships
with the same result
Romeo & Juliet ultimately pay the price for their love through
their tragic death
Character Archetypes: Sacrificial Lamb
Human or Animal
Voluntarily sacrifices
himself for the good of
Usually an allegory for
and allusion to Christ
Public death is a sin of
the community
His death/ injury is
usually necessary for the
story to continue or the
Hero to complete his
Aslan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
chooses to face the White Witch alone (and
ultimately death) to save Edmund.
Character Archetypes: The Fool
Always optimistic that
things will turn out
Symbolic of blind hope
and always has time
for “silly” things
Sees the best in people
Wears his heart on his
sleeve, easily giving
and getting hurt
Despite many trials and tribulations, Dory’s
indomitable spirit has her “just keep swimming”
until she and Marlin find Nemo.
Character Archetypes: Sidekick
Somewhat heroic
Similar to a servant with
hero-like qualities
Duty: Protect the Hero
Usually the hero and the
sidekick’s fates will be
This is not like the Batman
and Robin relationship,
where the sidekick is an
annoying “tag along” that
gets the Hero in trouble; this
character has an unyielding
sense of loyalty and duty.
Sam from Lord of The Rings is the loyal retainer of
Character Archetype:
The Outlaw/Destroyer
This character is often
rejected from a society
and, to gain revenge,
wishes to destroy all
forms of the society
that rejected him
Sometimes this
character begins as an
orphan or another
neutral character and
is turned by tragedy
Character Archetypes: The Monster
Monster usually
summoned from the
deepest, darkest parts of
the mind
It/he is usually an
allegory for some larger
social fear
Threatens the life of the
hero and threatens to
destroy society
This character does not
always “look” outwardly
like a monster, but can
be so on the inside
Summoned from nightmares, Freddy Krueger terrorized
teens in the ‘80s and ‘90s in the Nightmare on Elm
Street films.
Character Archetypes: The Outcast
Until he learns manners,
Hancock is the outcast of Los
Banished by Society
or a social group
Destined to become a
Moves from place to
Character Archetypes: The Trickster
Bugs Bunny plays tricks on his
adversaries that show their
Plays tricks or
otherwise disobeys
normal rules and
conventional behavior
Openly mocks and
questions authority,
promotes chaos/unrest
Brings new knowledge
and wisdom
Character Archetypes: The Tyrant
Hitler’s initial election led to his
power-hungry ways that
destroyed the lives of many
A leader who is
obsessed with power
May have started with
good intentions, but
now only wants power
and steps on anyone in
the way
Usually elected or given
power, then becomes
corrupted by it
Character Archetypes: The
In the film The Matrix, the Oracle
gives spiritual advice to Neo in
his quest for the truth.
An older person who has
a great deal of wisdom
and usually a connection
with magical forces
Community members
consult this person for
Plays a vital part of the
hero’s quest, but is
uninvolved with the
outcome of events
Character Archetypes: The Sadist
The Joker wreaks havoc on the
lives of Gotham’s residents in
The Dark Knight Rises.
Truly crazy character
His only desire is to
create pain and
Violent and craves
control over life and
Will never change
and cannot be saved
Character Archetypes: The
Spider-man’s good qualities
become the opposite while he
is wearing the black suit.
A character who is a
“double” of another
Usually possesses
characteristics to
“twin” character
“A ghostly double of a
living person”
What is a Situational Archetype?
A given experience that a hero or
character must endure to move from one
place in life to the next
Actions and events that add to the plot
A common event seen throughout stories
in may different genres
Examples of Situational Archetypes
The Quest
Death and Rebirth
The Task
Nature vs. Mechanistic
The Initiation
The Journey
The Fall
Good vs. Evil
The Unhealable Wound
The Ritual
Situational Archetypes:
The Quest
A quest describes a search
for someone or something of
great power or
A quest is never easily
accomplished and often
includes near impossible
Situational Archetypes:
The Task
The Hero must perform
some nearly superhuman
This is done to save the
kingdom, win the girl, or
find himself
Example: Arthur pulls the
sword from the stone
Situational Archetypes:
The Initiation
An initiation symbolizes a rite of passage
An adolescent may come into adulthood
through an initiatory event
Very much connected with growing up and
Masons created an
initiation process
that many secret
societies still follow
to date
Situational Archetypes:
The Journey
Sends the hero on a
search for some truth or
Forces the hero to
discover many
unpleasant truths
At his lowest point, the
hero will return to the
world of the living
Situational Archetypes:
The Fall
Shows a descent from
a higher to lower state
of being
Represents a loss of
Usually comes with
some type of expulsion
as a result of
Situational Archetypes:
Death and Rebirth
The most common of all
situational archetypes
Parallels the cycle of
nature with the cycle of life
Morning or Spring = Birth
or Youth
Evening or Winter = Old
Age or Death
Situational Archetypes:
Nature vs. Technology
Nature represents
purity and good
represents evil and
In this archetype,
technology destroys
Situational Archetypes:
Good vs. Evil
Battle between two primal forces
Traditionally, Good will triumph over evil
Can be found in
almost any movie,
book, or television
Simba (good) vs.
Scar (evil) in
The Lion King
Situational Archetypes:
The Unhealable Wound
Either physical or
damage that
cannot be repaired
Indicates a loss of
Drive the sufferer
to extremes
Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) will
never fully recover from his battle
wounds. He is forced into a mechanical
suit because of his lost limbs and
Situational Archetypes:
The Ritual
Mark a rite of
Show character’s role
in society
Explain a person’s
role in the world
Baptism is an important ritual of the
Christian faith. Once baptized, a
person officially becomes a
Symbolic Archetypes
These serve as a representation of a
specific person, act, deed, place or
conflict. They are easily recognizable
but not as common as situational
Light vs. Darkness
Water vs. Desert
Heaven vs. Hell
The Magic Weapon
Innate Wisdom vs.
Educated Stupidity
Haven vs. Wilderness
Supernatural Intervention
Fire vs. Ice
Symbolic Archetypes:
Light vs. Darkness
Light suggests
hope, renewal, or
Darkness implies
mystery, ignorance,
or despair
The battle of light and darkness will stretch
beyond actual light and dark. The good (light)
and bad (dark) can be seen through a story’s
characters and their actions.
Symbolic Archetypes:
Water vs. Desert
Water appears as a symbol of
fertility and birth; it may
symbolize a spiritual birth or
the beginning of something. It
brings about hope for new life
and spirituality.
A Desert typically
represents a loss of life,
hope, or faith. It might
bring about loss of life,
faith, or hope.
Symbolic Archetypes:
Heaven vs. Hell
Places not easily accessible by man are
regarded as the dwelling places of either the
gods or demons
The skies, clouds, or mountains house the gods.
Heaven is also associated
with light and nature.
Canyons, caves, and the
inner earth play home to the
evil forces of the world. Hell
is often associated with fire,
demons, evil, and the
unknown places of earth.
Symbolic Archetypes:
The Magic Weapon
A symbol of the
hero’s extraordinary
No other can use it to
its full potential
Traditionally given by
a mentor
Arthur pulls the sword from the stone,
not because he is stronger than others,
but because of his good qualities and
Symbolic Archetypes:
Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity
Some characters are more experienced and in
turn have a mystic wisdom
Other characters are
educated, powerful, and,
often times…stupid
The wise one is usually
an assistant while the
stupid-smarty is a leader
Though they work as a team, Alfred is wise with
experience while Bruce Wayne is a college
graduate who has a knack for flying by the seat of
his pants despite his butler’s advice.
Symbolic Archetypes:
Haven vs. Wilderness
Places of safety contrast with the unknown
threatening forces of the wilderness
Heroes often must return to a
safe haven in order to regain
health or supplies
The Batcave.
Home of The Batman.
Log Cabins serve as a
haven to many who
enjoy living in the heart
of a wild world.
Symbolic Archetypes:
Supernatural Intervention
God or gods intervene in a given situation
The gods will often favor
the hero, but occasionally
they do not
This is seen throughout
Greek Mythology as well
as most practiced
In the movie 300, the gods
intervened when “Zeus hurled
thunderbolts and rain storms as
the enemy ships crashed
against the rock.”
Symbolic Archetypes:
Fire vs. Ice
Typically, fire represents knowledge, light,
life, fertility and (re)birth
Ice will usually represent
a deserted place,
ignorance, sterility,
and death