Naturally, as a writer, English has always been my favorite class. I can only name one English class that wasn't my favorite--actually, I hated it--and that was because of how boring it was. Essay writing that I'd already done in high school, basically. Generally, though, I love English.
There are a lot of reasons for that. I like to read all the books they assign us, I like to learn Latin roots, I'm decent at grammar, and the teachers always like me. But one of my favorite topics in English has always been archetypes.
There are a couple different ways to look at archetypes. There are the classic literary archetypes that are usually brought up, and then the Jungian human archetypes, psychology stuff, which also intermingle with literature. The point of archetypes is to express the similarities between all human stories. Because we humans, we have sort of a shared consciousness. The same themes appear in our art repeatedly simply because we've got that huge backstory, the deeper truth that connects us to everyone else.
So what are some of the most famous archetypes?
Well, there are an incredible amount, to be honest. I'll be focusing today on character archetypes. Most of these, you'll probably recognize.
Well, this one's pretty darn obvious, but the main concept here is the actual archetypical hero, also known as the Warrior, often has issues with an ego that he/she has to overcome before succeeding at heroicism and fame and all of that. Sometimes this is like the anti-hero, like Hans Solo in Star Wars.
Quinn from THE CHOSEN FOUR series could be an example from my own works, or Bodhi from THE PROPHECY KEEPER.
The orphan archetype is also pretty predominant. The main concept is that the orphan moves from pain and loss, to accepting help, to finding independence. Often you'll see orphaned characters also moving on to heroicism, especially in children's literature, because kids really like feeling like they can be independent.
An example from my works is Augusta in THE ICE ENCHANTRESS'S PLOT.
Yeah, this is pretty much every blind soothsayer or old wizard in the history of storytelling. They're the teacher, the predictor, the knowledgable one who is often ignored or considered foolish. It's also a very good character to work with. I love sages.
One from my books would be the Keeper from THE PROPHECY KEEPER, or even perhaps Ms. Fwump from THE CHOSEN FOUR series.
The innocent is the character (often a child, but also just a romantic) who in their quest for paradise has a fall, but retains their belief and comes to the final goal with more wisdom, but a pure and uncorrupted view of life that aligns with their internal previous ideals.
In my books, this could be Leia from THE PSYCHIC STORY, or a number of other female main characters. The innocent often also acts as ballast for a heroic character, or one who is dependent on the main character.
We're talking the good kind here, the leader of the people who could be representative of God, even, not the kind of leader whom you have to overthrow, which is an incredible amount of them. No, we'll get to those later. This kind of ruler is powerful and decent and fair.
This kind of ruler I don't usually work with, actually.
Anima/Animus, or, The Lovers
This is probably my favorite. Centered in the Jungian world, the anima/animus is a pair of characters who are basically each other in an opposite sex form. Many great relationships work off of this principle, the soul partners, the lovers. Animus actually means soul in Latin. The animus is the male version of a female, the anima the female version of a male.
You can see this with a lot of my couples, but the main one that I actually actively used this archetype with was Hunter and Cassie in THE CHOSEN FOUR series.
Foils is another pair archetype, sort of a Jungian thing, but mostly a literary device. This is the set of characters that are placed together to contrast each other. They're fun to work with. You can see this with traditional hero vs the anti-hero, or between two types of innocents, or whatever.
In my books, I suppose this could be Bodhi and Jedrek of THE PROPHECY KEEPER, or Alex and Carter in MERCIFUL, among others. You can almost always find at least one set of these in a story.
On Shadow Types
This is where we get into the evil ruler. See, every archetype has its own shadow type, the bad version of itself. These are the characters you see as villains, traitors, or just generally messed up and annoying. You even have a shadow type--think of the bad traits inside of you, the extremes of your personality, and that would be your shadow. Actually, you can apply that to most archetypes. Point being, these are integral.
Examples from my books would include the Shaid from THE PROPHECY KEEPER, Laurence in THE CHOSEN FOUR series, and Serisk in THE ICE ENCHANTRESS'S PLOT, among many, many others.
Now for the news of the day! I have finally chosen to start working on THE PROPHECY KEEPER with intent of publishing it. That means lots of editing, and then writing me some query letter. I cannot even describe how nervous this is making me, which is not like me at all. But I will push forward. I mean, eventually I've got to hit the right note with the publishers, right? And I've got lotsa years to do that. I have also subscribed to thirteen or so blogs by professionals on the subject, so hopefully things will make more sense to me soon, LOL.
So thanks, all of you, for reading, and I'll see you next time for a reveal of my bucket list!
Images via Marvel, content.time.com, IMDB, narnia.wikia.com, starwars.wikia.com, comicartcommunity.com, and villains.wikia.com.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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