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Archetypal Literary Criticism

Final presentation

meg grey

on 9 September 2013

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Transcript of Archetypal Literary Criticism

Archetypal Critical Theory
In literature, archetypes are recurrent, universal patterns that evoke deep, emotional responses in the reader.

Critics believe that humans experience reality in terms of certain basic fears, desires, images, and stories.

They assume that writers will inevitably employ these patterns, and that audiences will react to them automatically.

The word archetype is derived from the Greek arkhe-, meaning first, and from the Greek typos, meaning model.
Jungian Psychology
 Believed that archetypes are models of people, behaviors, or personalities

 First idea began with the intuition that there was more to the psyche than individual experience

 Came up with the concept of the collective unconscious
 Later, Jung proposed that archetypes had a dual nature

History and Archetypes
Regardless of where they originated, most myths generally follow the monomyth structure, created by Joseph Campbell.

The hero receives a call to adventure
The hero must face a road of trials
The hero must survive a supreme challenge, with or without help
The hero receives a gift if he/she survives
The hero must return to the ordinary world, facing challenges on his/her return
The hero uses his/her gift to help improve the world

Examples: Odysseus, Theseus, Buddha, Moses, and Jesus

Current Voices
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
by Thomas Foster
Northop Frye
Stages of life
Archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize human thought and behavior.

As we mature the archetypal plan unfolds through a programmed sequence which Jung called the stages of life.
Each stage of life is mediated through a new set of archetypal imperatives.

the late 19th and early 20th centuries

It became clear that prominent writers were repeating ideas from ancient cultures. Myths from the Greek and Roman eras were thought of as profound and, as a result, authors incorporated these stories into their writings

Published Anatomy of Criticism (1957)
- literature as an "autonomous language"
- Proposed that there are four types of plots (called mythoi)
- Comedy (spring)
- Romance (summer)
- Tragedy (fall)
- Satire (winter)
- Focuses on analysis of archetypes

Sir James Frazer
The big secret: There is only ONE STORY
Every piece of literature is growing and developing from another piece of literature and this growth and development knows no genre
Plays allude to previous poems
Poems allude to previous novel
Etc. Etc. Etc…
By forming parallels between literature through archetypes makes for an abundant understanding of the text while becoming more purposeful

The Psychology of Archetypes
Current Voices
Pop Culture
Cultural anthropologist
Studied myths from different cultures and found that the stories and rituals differ in detail from time to place, but in substance they are the same
Heavily enforces the message that all stories feed off of one another and all literature from the past and from today all stem from a few primary sources.

Archetypes such as the tragic hero, the damsel in distress, the joker, the villain, the Christ figure are all present and are first recorded in these types of literature
"There is no such thing as a wholly original work of literature."

• A “hero’s journey” represents individuals’ own psychological growth as they confront features of their personal and collective unconscious in order to grow, mature, and fulfill their potential as human beings
• Heroes were initially associated with religion
• Later, heroes become secular and oriented with the military
• Eventually, with the rise of realism, heroes become realistic representations of society
• Now, many are anti-heroes

The Hero Archetype
Hero/God archetype (biblical references)
Exaggerates the normal proportions of humanity
Frequently has divine or supernatural origins
The superhero may not belong in society, but nevertheless is needed by humanity

Shadow archetype
The part of you that is hidden, the sum of the characteristics you conceal from both the world and yourself

• Self-made man
The part of us that wants to scare away life’s bullies

Basic Tenets

1. The critic is at the center of interpretive activity
2. The critic works inductively by reading individual works and letting critical principles shape themselves out of the literature.
3. Literary taste is not relevant to literary criticism.
4. Ethical criticism is important; the critic must be aware of art as a form of communication from the past to the present.
5. All literary works are considered part of tradition.
6. Works of literature represent mythical outlines of universal truths.
Final Summary
Archetypal criticism is concerned with the way cycles and reiterating patterns affect literary works
Certain symbols represent the same ideas
Authors use symbols in order to strike readers’ unconscious
Symbols recur in literature
Explains how different literary works and characters are connected
Gives the reader a better understanding

Discredits the originality of literary works
Symbols can have different meanings due to interpretation, so the use of archetypal critical theory discredits other meanings

Pros and Cons

Every piece of literature is growing and developing from another piece of literature and this growth and development knows no genre

By forming parallels between literature through archetypes makes for an abundant understanding of the text while becoming more purposeful

There is only ONE STORY
“All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination.  ”

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