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Archetypal Criticism Dummies Guide

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Madison Ross

on 2 October 2013

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Transcript of Archetypal Criticism Dummies Guide

Archetypal Criticism
For Dummies and Morons alike
What is an Archetype?
What does that mean?
Take for example how when you're watching a movie or reading a book you can recognize who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist without a lot of background information. They both assume roles that you can automatically determine who is good and who is evil.
An Archetype is a symbol (usually an image) which reoccurs often enough in literature to be considered a recognizable element of a storyline or character.
If you're looking at the Lord of the Rings trilogy, upon reading or watching the movies, based on Frodo's valiant characteristics you automatically assume that he is the protagonist.

Sauron is the evil element of the story based upon the facts that he is opposing Frodo and rendering his quest to destroy the ring more difficult.
Archetypal Criticism is a type of literary criticism that is concerned with analyzing and discovering the original pattern, motifs, models for themes and the characters within literature.
Things you need to know!
We are ALL archetypal critics! Whether you know it or not, you connect and relate traditional plots, symbols, and characters.
When you're criticizing archetypes it's important to use what you know! It's all about making the connections and relating with other things that you've seen/read.
Archetypal critics believe that all stories are written in accordance with an underlying archetypal model!
The History
of Archetypal Criticism
(The fathers of the stuff)
Carl Jung
Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology.
He developed an understanding of archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct.
Jungian archetypes refer to the nuclear underlying forms that come from images and motifs, like the mother, the child, and the trickster!
He was influenced by Freud and the Freudian theory of Unconscious.
He believed that archetypes were the clues to finding wholeness.
Jungian Archetypes
"The archetype concept derives from the often repeated observation that myths and universal literature stories contain well defined themes which appear every time and everywhere. We often meet these themes in the fantasies, dreams, delirious ideas and illusions of persons living nowadays."
- Carl Jung
Northrop Frye
Was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century.
Father of "New Poetics" found in the principle of the mythological framework, which has come to be known as (you guessed it) 'archetypal criticism'.
Came up with the Mythos Grid from his four essays about the anatomy of criticism
Mythos explained is THAT way
Mythos Grid
What is Mythos?
Mythos is basically a recurrent narrative theme, or plot structure.
So the mythos grid is basically different mythoi (the plural of mythos) that are looked for in literature to classify a piece. Whether it be a comedy, tragedy, romance or irony and satire!
So the classification depends on what mythoi the literature contains!
Archetype Examples!
getting down into the nitty gritty of what Archetypal Criticism is meant to make you understand
What do they symbolize?
Red: Blood, sacrifice, violent passion, disorder.
Green: Growth, sensation, hope, fertility; in negative context it may be associated with death and decay.
Blue: Usually highly positive, associated with truth, religious feeling, security and spiritual purity.
Black (darkness): Chaos, mystery, the unknown, death, the unconscious, evil, melancholy.
White: Signifying in it's positive aspects, purity, light, innocence, and timelessness. When used in negative aspects, death, terror, the supernatural, and the blinding truth.
Some Character Archetypes!
The Father
Characteristics: Stern and powerful, usually considered a hard ass.
Take for example Stoick the Vast in "How to Train Your Dragon"
The Mother
Kind and nurturing, brings comfort to the situation.
A good example of a motherly figure is Aunt Mary from Spider Man
The Hero
A champion, shows valiant characteristics, has an independent identity.
For example, Harry Potter.
The Wise Old Man
Offers guidance, knowledge and wisdom.
Gandalf the Grey (The hobbit & Lord of the Rings trilogy) is the wisest old man of all the wise old men!
The Trickster
Deceives, lies, and causes trouble within the story.
Ursula (The Little Mermaid) is a great example of a trickster,
Spring - rebirth; genre - comedy
Summer - Life; Genre - Romance
Fall - Death, Dying; Genre - Tragedy
Winter - Without Life; death; Genre - Irony and Satire
Something to Remember!
Not EVERY single symbol you see or find is an archetype. Archetypes can often mean way more than just one thing, it all depends on the piece of literature that you're looking at.
and finally...
How to detect and identify archetypes within literature
1. If an image, color, symbol or character trait seems familiar and can be connected with other literature, that's a surefire way of knowing that it's most likely an archetype.
2. So it's time to determine what the meaning of the archetype is. What does it usually stand for in literature? For example if the character is wearing all black, then it probably means that the character has some kind of affiliation with death.
3. Connect the archetype that you've found to some other specific pieces of literature. How does it relate to things that you've heard or seen in your life that help you identify with it? An archetype simply isn't an archetype unless it's recurring throughout literary history.
4. Now ask yourself this: How should the archetype be seen and interpreted in THIS specific piece of literature? You should try to determine the effect on the form and function of the piece that the archetype has.
5. Based on the piece of literature that you've finished criticizing, you should easily be able to find the theme, tone and motifs of this piece of literature by using the archetypes that you've identified.
You've completed the Archetypal Criticism dummies guide, you're now educated in the symbology behind literature! yay for you!
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