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Transcript of Archetypes
What is an archetype?
An archetype is a formula or pattern in storytelling. All writers use them; they are the building blocks of story telling.
The same basic archetypes can be found all over the world going back as far as we can trace. They are used worldwide without people actually communicating about these archetypes. Prominent psychologist Carl Jung called it the "Collective Unconscious". Archetypes are so universal because they come from within us, which is why they are so deeply engrained in the human psyche.
There are several categories of archetypes: situational, character, symbols, setting
Situational archetypes are the story lines and patterns you recognize. If you know the archetype, you know how the scene or story will end.
Settings and Symbols
Colors and Numbers
Red= blood, passion, chaos,
Green = growth, hope, life
Blue= positive, purity, peace
Black= darkness/death, wisdom,
White= light, purity, innocence
Yellow= wisdom, enlightenment
3 = unity, male, spirituality
4 = seasons, cycles of life, female,
7=perfect order, coming full circle, perfect number, often a religious nature (3+4=7)
Boy meets girl. For no apparent reason they cannot stand one another. Suddenly, they must work together for school or work. They keep protesting they hate another. How will the story end?
Common Situational Archetypes:
The hero must go on a journey to seek information in order to save the kingdom (or world). There are multiple sub-archetypes of the The Journey, but we will focus on the basic formula for now
Pretty much just what it sounds like. The protagonist (sometimes fallen hero) has a fall from grace (sometimes literally so). They move from a high to a low(er) state of being. They have somehow become tainted or impure. Often times, characters are expelled from 'paradise'.
Examples: Lancelot and Guinevere Adam and Eve
Similar to The Journey, the hero is in search of something. This time, however, the hero is in search of a person or object that will save the day and restore normalcy. What ever the problem is back home, this person or object will fix it all.
The extraordinary, godlike, or superhuman tasks the hero must perform to save the day. This can be its own story, but is usually a step in a Quest or Journey.
Someone (usually an adolescent) is coming of age and becomes aware of new problems. Often they reach maturity at the climax of the story. They must often go through some Rite of Passage. Often Initiates must take part in The Ritual to prove they are ready to be an adult in this society. When the Initiate proves themselves and is seen as an adult, they often bring hope to their society
Examples: Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, Eragon, Percy Jackson, Matrix, etc
Death and Rebirth
One of the more common archetypes, parallels are drawn between two states (day and night, life and death, winter and spring, etc) by comparing the cycle of life and the cycles of nature.
Day/Spring = life, birth, hope, etc
Night/Winter = death, despair, etc
Battle Between Good and Evil
Just as it sounds - two primal forces engage in a struggle which will determine the fate of the kingdom/world, etc.
Someone (almost always the Hero), has a wound that will not heal. The wound is usually physical, but it can be emotional or psychological. The wound comes at a critical moment in the story and is usually a turning point or milestone.
This is a weapon (or ability) only the Hero can wield and it will be what allows him or her to save the day
Examples: Thor's Hammer
Neo's skills in The Matrix
The character who saves the day; is a leader or an inspiration and makes sacrifices or suffers as a result of his role as the hero.
The Young Man From the Provinces
A country boy who is more than he appears to be (prince raised by farmers, etc). Someone raised in a humble environment
Someone who doesn't want to be a hero but learns to be one anyway
This is a person who doesn't match the usual characteristics of a hero. Something about this character is flawed or damaged.
Example: Holden Caufield, Wolverine
Ex: Luke Skywalker, Frodo
A Hero in an Initiation, this person is usually young and must prove themselves worthy of responsibility, leadership, or citizenship of some kind. The "evil" of the story runs parallel to their own burgeoning maturity.
Not really an archetype, this broad category covers the companions to the hero
These are the teachers/counselors to the Hero. Usually older and a pseudo parent figure, they help guide hero (very common in Initiations).
The Threshold Guardian
This is usually the first major obstacle, the Hero must defeat this force or figure in order to begin the journey
Hunting Group of Companions
A group of companions who accompany the Hero willingly. They are loyal and protective of one another. Note: The group may be made up of various archetypes
This person is usually the closest person to the Hero - their job is defend the Hero. Often they are a servant and bring out the best traits in the Hero.
An animal companion who aides the hero. Their presence further proves the Hero is on the side of Good.
Ex: Mice in Cinderella, Donkey
An opponent who mirrors (darkly) the Hero. They are usually a respected foe (and remind both the audience and the Hero of the Hero himself). They must be defeated and are usually one of the last obstacles.
Ex: Jekyll and Hyde
The character or force that represents true and ultimate evil.
Ex: Maleficent, Sauron
The Evil Figure with (Ultimately) A Heart Of Gold
This character is a villain who could have been, or might one day, be Good. The hero usually helps them redeem themselves.
Ex: Scrooge, Beast (from Beauty and the Beast)
Creature of Nightmare
A terrifying creature (usually with human like traits), often a representation of the darkest part of the human psyche.
The Scape Goat
A character who takes on the blame of the group (usually involuntarily). Their death or punishment (usually public) is a catalyst in the story. You are not allowed to forget their death.
Ex: Aslan, Piggy,
This character is a loner, but not necessarily by choice. They have been banished, exiled or rejected. Usually seen as homeless (in a sense), wandering from place to place. They do not fit in anywhere now that they have been rejected.
Example: Cady Herrin, Belle, Romeo
The Platonic Ideal
A woman to whom the Hero is not attracted physically, but who is inspiring or intellectually attractive.
Ex: Hermione Granger
Damsel in Distress
The woman who needs to be rescued; usually very feminine in the traditional sense, she is often used as bait to trap the hero
Ex: Any superhero's girlfriend
The Earth Mother
This character is the mother figure - she (or he) offers support and encouragement. Usually associated with fertility and abundance.
Ex: MotorMouth Maybell, Oracle
The Temptress / Black Goddess
The femme fatale - this character is dangerously beautiful and interest in her will bring about the downfall of the
Ex: Megara, Delilah
Beautiful maiden (traditionally blonde) she is good and pure (and associated with religion or intelligence) - often the perfect wife/girlfriend/love interest.
Ex: Any Disney Princess (except Merida who is a Warrior Maiden)
The Unfaithful Wife
Needs an explanation? Not always a figure of distaste or scorn, but her actions have consequences in the story.
Ex: Helen of Troy
Star Crossed Lovers
Usually young, but do not have to be; these characters for some reason cannot be together, despite the overwhelming strength of their love.
ex: Romeo and Juliet
Ex: Tris from Divergent,
Examples: Gandalf, Obi Wan, Dumbledore
Examples: Storm Troopers, Prof. Quirrell, Allie's mother in The Notebook, Gate Keeper in Wizard of OZ
Ex: Robin Hood's Merry Men, the Fellowship of the Ring
Ex: Freddy Krueger, Dracula
Examples: Samwise Gamgee, Robin,
Light vs Darkness
Much like Death and Rebirth, this archetype is about parallels. Light = good and Dark = bad. "Bad Guys" dress in dark colors, use the "Dark Side" of the Force, work for The Shadow, etc. "Good Guys" are dressed in lighter colors, have their victories heralded by the dawn, etc. This is as much as the forces of Good and Evil as it is the duality of human nature
Innate Wisdom vs Educated Stupidity
"The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool". This archetype is about wisdom of experience and the danger of a little knowledge. Often times, this means a partnership (Bruce Wayne and Alfred, for example) where one is well educated but makes mistakes or errors, and the wise one who, while not as educated, advises and relies on experience and instinct
Fire and Ice
This is another parallel. Fire is a cleansing force. It represents (re)birth, knowledge, power, life, etc. Ice is (obviously) the opposite. It represents death, stagnation, isolation. *Think "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost*
Nature vs Mechanistic World
In essence, nature good, technology bad. This is LOTR, Matrix, just about any robot movie (Terminator, etc). Machines and technology will destroy nature and mankind will suffer or perish
Remember the Threshold Guardian? This is where he comes in. The Threshold is the point of no return, usually the first point of true danger or obstacles. It takes the hero to a new world, either literally or metaphorically
This is not necessarily Hell, though it can be. The underworld is dark and dangerous place the Hero must go through in order to encounter a darker side of himself. It is facing your death
Haven vs Wilderness
A place of safety (Haven) parallels, in sharp contrast, a "wilderness" which is dangerous. The Hero will go to the Haven to recover or gather his forces.
Water vs Desert
Much like Haven vs Wilderness, water = good. Water is a necessity of life and a cleansing element - hence bodies of water are associated with new beginnings and birth. The Desert is a lack of life, resources, and can represent death.
Heaven vs Hell
Most cultures associate the sky and air with a Heaven and the forces of Good and life; conversely, Hell is represented by subterranean settings, caves, etc. Both of these "locations" are difficult or impossible for man to reach.
This is proverbial fork in the road; a decision must be made and all options have a consequence of some sort.
Can be literal, but is often a puzzle or dangerous search or journey where the outcome and likelihood of success are uncertain
This is often a Haven. A Castle represents safety and security; it may hold great treasure (such as a princess) and may even be enchanted.
Towers are the opposite of Castles - they are BAD news. This is the stronghold of evil; represent isolation and desolation.
Not necessarily water; this represents the power and danger of natural forces
A symbol of uncertainty and confusion
Often associated with sadness or a bittersweet new beginning.
Triangle = trinity, communication, fire
circle = heaven, intellect, perfection
Square=pluralism, strength and stability
Cross= tree of life, axis, sacrifice
Becoming more popular, this is the villain with good or noble intentions. They usually have a code, goal, or ideal that makes them at least understandable, if not sympathetic.
Ex: Erik Lensherr/ Magneto
The Moral Event Horizon
This is the moment of no return, where a character has become so evil, done something so horrible there can be no salvation or forgiveness. They MUST be destroyed/stopped