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Archetypes and Myth

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Michael Scott

on 12 August 2012

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Transcript of Archetypes and Myth

Archetypes & Mythology
An archetype is an ideal example upon which others are patterned
It is a universal symbol recognized by all
Though the idea has been around for thousands of years, it was psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung who coined the term "archetype" and developed the modern theory regarding them.
The hero: self-sacrificing, representative of all that is good
The wise old sage: the one who teaches the hero & serves as a mentor
The Shadow/The Devil: evil incarnate; (usually) the villain of the story
The trickster: comic relief; sometimes the hero or villain. Usually pitted against stronger opponents, wins with cunning.
1. Archetypes are not exclusive. Characters can represent more than one archetype.
2. These are not the only archetypes; sometimes an archetype is a mixture of a few elements of others.
For example, the anti-hero; he represents both the hero with a few elements of the shadow (evil) or the outcast (due to his or her questionable ways).
This type of hero has become very popular in modern film and literature
3. The most important archetype, which contains the ones mentioned, is what is known as "The Hero's Journey"
Most stories we read begins with the hero (or main character) in search of something; it is the same in movies and video games.
The journey isn't always an actual movement from one area to another; the journey can be internal (mental or emotional). Often the journey is represented as either a struggle or a desire to achieve a goal.
A myth is a sacred story that explains creation, mankind's history, or models for behavior.
Joseph Campbell was the greatest modern mythologist.
He believed mythology served four functions
(but we're focusing on three instead)
Cosmological: explains the shape and order of the universe.
Sociological: validating laws and
social behavior; what is right and
what is wrong.
Psychological: mythology serves as a "guide" for one going on the journey from birth to death. It teaches one how to behave, what it viewed as morally good in a culture, and how to be fully human. This is most important mythological function.
Campbell also believed that all myths followed the same pattern: The Hero's Journey, or as he also called it, the Monomyth.
Compare ancient mythology to today: has anything changed?
Merlin & Gandalf
Hercules & Superman
King Arthur & Darth Vader
Archetypes are similar to symbols, but are much deeper than that. Characters, images, and even the plot of a story can all be considered archetypal.
Character archetypes are the archetypes with which many are already familiar. Some examples are:
Much like character archetypes, image archetypes are images that recur throughout literature.
For example, the myths of King Arthur, Theseus, and Thor involve the recovery of a sacred weapon, which is buried or hidden.
Jung believed that archetypes are a part of the "collective unconscious", or the part of the human mind below language where only instinct and images exist.
It helps to remember a few things about archetypes:
The Outcast: someone who has been rejected by society, or has rejected the laws, norms or values of society.
It cannot be overstated that "myth" does not mean "false". In fact, a person's mythology would be what he or she holds true above all else.
He studied myths of all cultures, and found common themes between them all
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