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Archetypal Criticism

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Jeffrey Wang

on 17 January 2015

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Transcript of Archetypal Criticism

With this happy ending, the
Hero may not want to return
to his regular world
Something can
prevent his return
The Antagonist
Carl Jung
Psychologist who founded
analytical psychology
James George Frazer
did not firstly have a basis in literature
Where did archetypal criticism come from?
So archetypal criticism is...
Archetypal critics
look at literature as a whole
find the archetypes (patterns) within it
So...give us an example...
What the heck is archetypal criticism?
Literary criticism (feminist, psychoanalysis...)
Archetypal Criticism
There are many different types of archetypes
Focuses on the
patterns in literature
These patterns are what we call
Thematic Archetypes
Character Archetypes
Situational/Plot Archetypes
Symbolic Archetypes
Setting Archetypes
Patterns in literature
Ally Archetype
Mentor Archetype
apply these archetypes to individual books
analyze how they're used and their purpose
From archetypes they can
gain a better understanding of the text
Stemmed from
anthropology and psychology
Three key theorists:
James George Frazer, Carl Jung and Northrop Frye
comparative mythology
across cultures
Found many similarities
between the world's mythologies
The Golden Bough
the death-rebirth myth
We spin the same stories our primitive ancestors shared over the tribal fire, only with changed settings and costumes.
Took Frazer's findings and explained
there were many shared beliefs
Proposed the idea of the
collective unconscious
Collective Unconscious
The collective unconscious is the
the set of innate thoughts, feelings, instincts, and memories
that reside in the unconsciousness of
Comes from
the memories and experiences of our ancestors
As humans spread out,
the collective unconscious manifested in their myths
What does that have to do with archetypes?
Collective Unconscious
Innate thoughts, feelings, instincts
Recurring images/symbols/themes
Recurring images/symbols/ideas/etc...
"The collective unconscious manifested in their myths"
Myths harbor many archetypes which are manifestations of the collective unconscious
Jung coined the term "
Why myths?
Myths in primitive times were an amalgamation of
explaining phenomena
teaching social conventions
expressions of the inner psyche
metaphors for their desires
collective unconscious
What does this have to do with English?!
Northrop Frye
Fellow Canadian
Connected Carl Jung's ideas with
Anatomy of Criticism
Anatomy of Criticism
An important text in archetypal criticism
Big idea =
all stories are "displaced" myths
follows the patterns of myths
The archetypes in mythology are
directly translated into literature
Religious Element of Myth
Realistic Element of Literature
Paradise (Hogwarts, the Emerald City)
Mentors (Dumbledore, Glinda)
In myth we see the structural principles of literature
; in realism we see the same
structural principles (not similar ones) fitting into a context of plausibility
The presence of a mythical structure in realistic fiction, however,
poses certain technical problems for making it plausible
, and the devices used in solving these problems may be given the general name of
Why is mythology so important to literature?
Modern Literature
of gods merge into legends of heroes; legends of heroes merge into plots of tragedies and comedies; plots of tragedies and comedies merge into plots of more or less
realistic fiction
But these are change of social context rather than of literary form, and the constructive principles of story-telling remain constant through them, though of course
they adapt to them.
Ok what...?
There are repetitive patterns in the mythologies of the world's cultures.
Those "patterns" are called archetypes and they come from our collective unconscious.
Modern literature derives from mythology and follows its archetypes. These archetypes were translated to literature but were changed to be more realistic.
Joseph Campbell
One Myth/Mother of all Myths
comparative mythology
The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Discovered that all
myths follow a distinct pattern
This pattern was
passed down to literature
as well
ultimate plot archetype
Outlines a
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man
Influenced many works of literature (Star Wars)
Call to Adventure
Refusal of the Call
Supernatural Aid
Belly of the Whale
Show Me Some Archetypes!
Road of Trials
Meeting the Goddess
Woman as Temptress
The Ultimate Boon
Master of Two Worlds
Crossing the Threshold
Rescue from Without
The Magic Flight
Refusal of Return
Atonement with Father
Freedom to Live
Warrior Hero
Romantic Hero
Tragic Hero
Anti Hero
Classic Hero
17 steps -
not every step is in every story
not always in order
The Herald
The messenger that
calls the hero to the adventure
Is not always a person, can be
a force
Can become an ally as the story progresses
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Crossing of the First Threshold
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Trickster
comic relief
; clown-esque
affects other people but is unchanged themselves
Can be a sidekick, trouble-maker, neutral...
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
Their nature is to change;
hidden intentions
tension and uncertainty
to the story
Doesn't have to be bad
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
Dorothy realizes "There's no place like home"
Harry learns to stand-up for himself and always fight evil
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
Dorothy settles into her Kansas life and no longer dreams of "somewhere over the rainbow"
But wait....didn't Carl Jung say that archetypes are a manifestation of our innate feelings/instincts/desires?
So...how are any of these archetypes about humanity?
Threshold Guardian
Need for guidance / teachers, role models...
Reluctance to trust / untrustworthy people in our life
Repressed feelings
Internal demons (insecurities...) / every day trials
Urge to rebel
Initiates the process of change
Need for support / friends and family
by behaviour

by behaviour

Literary Characters
by behaviour

Literary Plots
by behaviour

What sort of categories are there?
Who categorized them?
Why are we categorizing aspects of literature?
Are these categories in all books?
Do these categories mean anything?
The Hero is in normal life when he is given the
notice that everything is going to change,
whether he wants it or not
Time for adventure!
The Hero
refuses to go
on the adventure due to obligations, fear, insecurity, or inadequacy
Eventually the Hero does accept the call and goes on the journey
person with magical powers appears to help
the Hero
Perfect knight in shining armour
Concerned with love
Has a fatal flaw that leads to his downfall
Lacks heroic traits
Fierce, god-like killing machine
Appears as a
wise old man/woman
Drastically helps the Hero
and may even save him from death
Pass their wisdom and knowledge
to the Hero
May become unavailable or die later in the story
The pivotal moment when the Hero
crosses from his regular world to the world of adventure
Doesn't have to be a place, can be
a barrier or even event
Ensures that the
Hero is worthy of passing the threshold
- a test
Doesn't have to be at the first threshold;
can be all over the story
Doesn't have to be a person;
can be force, object, etc...
deeper into the world of adventure
Very dangerous and risks death
Final separation
between the Hero and his regular world
"What did I get myself into"
People who
help the Hero
during their journey
and often saves the Hero
Do not have a function other than to aid the Hero
Faces many tasks
and trials that transform him
Not one specific event; happens
over a long period of time
The hero
experiences a transcendent love
of a "goddess/god"
She gives him help and is
very powerful
Doesn't have to be an actual goddess
hero is tempted
by someone/something (not necessarily a woman)
The Hero
must discard this temptation
and move on with the journey
Metaphor for the
temptations of life
The Hero
Synonymous with
Often naïve at the beginning
Magical birth
Goes on a journey/quest
characterized by their journey

So that were some plot archetypes and some character archetypes
Are there more?
The Wizard of Oz
Harry Potter
The Mentor
Friendly Beast
Damsel in Distress
The Threshold Guardian
The Allies
Star-Crossed Lovers
The Shapeshifter
Rags to Riches
The hero has a
confrontation with whoever hold the ultimate power
in his life
Defeating the Monster
Coming of Age
Means to deify
death occurs
Because of this, the Hero
rises to a god-like state
(physical power, ambition, knowledge...)
The ultimate
goal is achieved

opposite traits of the Hero
Wants to destroy the Hero
The Shadow
So now that you read a book, you can identify the archetypes within them
When and where they come from
Who theorized these archetypes
The hero
must escape with the "treasure"
as someone may be pursuing him
Maybe you can even find some new ones on your own
The hero might
need guidance or assistance to go back
to the regular world
At last, the Hero
returns home
But ugh....why do I care about this?
Since archetypes come from the collective unconscious which represent the feelings, thoughts and instincts key to humans,
people can identify with archetypes profoundly
Therefore, good use of archetypes in literature can
greatly impact every reader
It is important to
recognize when reading
use when writing
The hero uses the experience/knowledge he gained from his adventure to
master his regular world
The hero can now lead a life
without the fear of death
or impending doom
Harry can rest knowing that Voldemort can't come back
"All was well."
Archetypes have been "tested till perfect"; we all
love certain character archetypes
and get
pulled into certain plot archetypes
Think about this...
All literature has archetypes; therefore
all literature has a piece of our collective unconscious
Humans have a
psychological connection with literature
Literature is our soul
- our deepest desires and feelings
All the
character archetypes are parts of us
, and the journey they go through is
the journey we go through
and the change they see is
the change we want to see in ourselves
So the next time you read and find yourself drawn to a particular book or specific character...
maybe that's saying something about your psychology
You are what you read
unconsciously inspires
us to go through our own monomyths, be our own heroes and defeat our own shadows
We can even...
Or someone/something
prevents the acceptance
So..are you saying that all books are the same?
All books have
the same foundation
, the architecture on top is
all different and unique
Authors don't include archetypes because they're unoriginal, they do so either
(collective unconscious) or because
archetypes are a crowd-pleaser
Their psychological meanings
Rebellious and nonconformist
What do you mean by "categorize"?
Full transcript