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Mythology/Archetypes Critical Reading
Transcript of Mythology/Archetypes Critical Reading
evil, corruption, sensuality, mystery Desert
death, hopelessness, spiritual aridity Water
creation, purification, growth, the unconscious "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer--rain. Sun
masculine, creative energy, the conscious, sunrise = birth, sunset = death Colors
red (blood, passion); green (growth); blue (truth, purity); black (chaos, death, evil); white (light, innocence, mystery) "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost--dawn/green Circle
wholeness, unity, balance, infinity, eternity Ouroboros--eternal cycle of life The snake in the story of Genesis. Numbers
three (light, spiritual awareness, unity, the male principle); four (the circle, nature, life cycle, the female element); seven (union of three and four, perfect order) Four seasons Four elements The Archetypal Woman The Good Mother (life, birth, warmth, health); The Terrible Mother (witch, siren, evil); The Soul Mate (Holy Mother, princess, "beautiful lady," inspiration, fulfillment) Kala in "Tarzan" Lady Tremaine in "Cinderella" Rapunzel in "Tangled" The Wise Old Man
knowledge, insight, guidance, wisdom, morality Albus Dumbledore in "Harry Potter" Garden
paradise, innocence, unspoiled beauty, fertility "The Secret Garden" by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Tree
consistence, growth, inexhaustible life "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein Myth criticism focuses on the universality of a work; on how it can appeal to anyone in any time period. Myth criticism tells the tale of the everlasting story. These three things are prominent in the development of myth criticism: Mythological criticism deals with the relationship of literary art to "some very deep chord" in human nature. The myth critic studies the archetypes of great literature, or the part of a work that causes a reaction from the reader. Mythology tends to be philosophical, dealing with religion, anthropology, and cultural history. One misconception is that myths are merely primitive fictions, illusions, or opinions based upon false reasoning. Myths may not meet our standards of factual reality, but instead reflect a more profound reality. Myths bring cultures and generations together. A type of literature that conforms with the major phases of the seasonal cycle Mythos of spring = comedy
Mythos of summer = romance
Mythos of fall = tragedy
Mythos of winter = irony A myth is a structure organizing principle of literary form and an archetype is an element of one's literary experience Mythology provides a blueprint of what literature is all about, an imaginative survey of the human situation. The major works of American writers possesses a uniqueness, attributed to the influence of the American Dream.
reflects the hope of creating a second paradise in America.
America has always been seen by Europe as the land of boundless opportunity, where people who are impoverished can start over and have a second chance at paradise. The American Adam The Myth of Edenic Possibilities mythic new world hero
represents moral purity and social innocence
self-reliant and self-propelling
loses innocence and becomes aware of evil Huckleberry Finn one of the 6 most significant works in American literature, known as the Great American novel. 1. The Quest- wanderer separated from his culture, in search of a more substantial reality
2. Water symbolism- The Mississippi River is known as the "strong brown god," and is a symbol of the mystery of life and creation. It also represents purification and justice. Huck goes through symbolic deaths and new identities as he returns to the shore from the river. The river is a paradise, as the shore brings corruption and cruelty.
3. Shadow archetype- Huck's pap, with his repulsiveness, is a representation of the devil figure.
4. Wise old man- Jim provides spiritual guidance and moral wisdom.
5, Archetypal women- The Good Mother (the widow Douglas, Mrs. Loftus, Aunt Sally Phelps), the Terrible Mother (Miss Watson), and the Soul-Mate (Sophia Grangerford, Mary Jane Wilks).
6. Initiation- Huck goes through a series of painful experiences to get to spiritual maturity and becomes morally reborn. Huck = American Hero Self-made youth, free from materialism and morality
possesses the simple modesty that we idolize, and is mentally sharp.
sensitive loner, troubled by man's inhumanity to man. Limitations Limitations Myth criticism offers opportunities for the enhancement of our literary understanding far beyond the historical realms of literary study, into man's oldest rituals and beliefs. The reader must take care that his enthusiasm for a new found interpretive key does not tempt him to discard other valuable critical instruments, or try to open all literary doors with a single key
Myth critics sometimes tend to forget that literature is more than a vehicle for archetypes, which runs the risk of being distracted from the aesthetic experience of the work. Anthropology = the most important influence on the growth of myth criticism Mythical Approach to Drama The Sacrificial Hero:
Hamlet Cambridge Hellenists = used anthropology to understand the Greek classics
Sir James G. Frazer = studied the origins of religion in magic, ritual, and myth
~influenced James Joyce, Thomas Mann, and T.S. Eliot
~demonstrated the "essential similarity of man's chief wants everywhere and at all times" (particularly in ancient mythologies) In the 1922 abridged edition of
his book, The Golden Bough, Frazer
reflected on the archetype of crucification
and resurrection, saying that, "In name in detail,
the rites varied from place, in substance they were
the same" (Frazer 325).
Ancient peoples believed that the safety and wealth of their civilizations depended upon the health and life of their god-kings (divine or semidivine rulers). So, when the rulers began to grow weak, they would be killed
and their souls would be transferred to a healthy,
vigorous successor, who would keep the people
alive and prosperous. Later on, these sacrifices
became more symbolic, or were performed
with "scapegoats." The Scapegoat Archetype The people transferred the corruptions of
the tribe to a sacred animal or man and killed it
instead of their king (and the book says that in some instances, they ate it, by which I hope they mean the animals and not the men...) to achieve the cleansing and
atonement they thought was necessary for natural and
* Similar to today in the way that some people gain
satisfaction in the persecution of minorities (Hitler,
anyone?), and some people gain a sense of renewal
from traditions like New Year's and spring cleaning.
Modern examples of the scapegoat archetype would
be Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Suzanne
Collins' The Hunger Games series. Scholars think tragedies originated from these
primitive rites. The tragedies of Sophocles and
Aeschylus were written with the intention of being
played during the Festival of Dionysus, where ancient
Greeks celebrated the deaths of winter-kings and the rebirths of the gods of the spring.
Oedipus was the fusion of myth and literature. It was a well-
known mythic narrative before Sophocles immortalized it as a
tragic drama. Two archetypal motifs are very prominent in
1) the quest motif- Oedipus went on a journey and
encountered the Sphinx.
2) the scapegoat motif- the old king is dead, and the
new king is the murderer, so in the traditional sense
of this archetype, Thebes is stricken by plague and
drought until Oedipus (who is symbolically
diseased because of his crime) offers
himself up as scape-
goat and redeems
the land Like Oedipus, Hamlet is not completely original, but was
drawn from legend (many of them, actually). This includes the story
of Amlet, Prince of Jutland in the 12th Century, and all the way back
through Icelandic Amlodhi to Oriental Mytology. As in Oedipus, Hamlet's
Denmark is a diseased and rotten state because of Caudius' murder of
Hamlet's father (he killed the ruler through assassination, notsacrifice, so, in
essence, he also murdered the country). In an odd twist of fate, Hamlet must
offer himself up as scapegoat as well as kill Claudius because, as family of the
murderer, he himself is therefore "infected" with the blight and must die. Harry Potter In the Harry Potter series, the magical world basically turns to ruins when Lord
Voldemort takes over. When he tries to kill Harry (the first time), he succeeds only
in killing himself (sort of), and basically ridding the world of the disease that is
"he-who-must-not-be-named." As Voldemort gains his strength and makes his
come-back, he acts almost like a disease on Harry (who is basically the
hero/idol/man-god of the magical world). This, in turn, hurts the people of
the wizarding world, until at the end of the last book, Harry has to rid
the world of the evil inside him by sacrificing himself. But then he comes back to life and the whole world is returned to order, yay! Creation Most fundamental of archetypes Creation is very prevalent in Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion fell in love with a statue he created; from creation bloomed love
Galatea comes to life, therefore he "played God" Immortality Escape from Time Mystical Submersion into Cyclical Time The character endures a time of bliss before suffering the Great Fall from Grace The character endures endless death and regeneration Consumed by grief and terror after his friend Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh is impelled onto a futile quest for immortality. The Hero The hero is all about transformation and redemption. Quest Initiation Sacrificial Scapegoat taking on tasks
saving the day (kingdom/princess/etc.) 1. Separation
3. Return The hero must die in order to atone for people's sins and restore the land to prosperity. Archetypes of Time and Immortality Immortality is a fundamental motif in myth dealing
with an escape from time, termination and disintegration.
Mircea Elaide says that one of the
most common themes in
immortal myths is the
regressus ad uterum (“return to
the origin” of creation). Its
contradictory archetype, time itself,
deals with the inexorable laws of
death, decay, and physical extinction. The mythological approach is
used more readily in drama and novels, rather
than the shorter form of poetry, but poets such as
William Blake, William Butler Yeats, and T.S. Eliot structured
many of their works on myth. Even non-
“mythmakers” use images and motifs
that function as archetypes, whether
that was their intention or not. Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” fits into this category.
The poem is commonly seen as just a
very suggestive proposition, but it
contains an element of the universal, and therefore, the
archetypal. In a deeper sense, the poem is about time,
and, consequently, immortality. The first stanza paints the archetype of
immortality ironically by saying lovers may escape from
time and live in a euphoric state for eternity, while also describing
this love as a monstrous vegetable. The second stanza of the poem
utilizes the time motif to show that love and all other things are governed
by the laws of nature and time and will eventually die.
Overall, the poem seems to suggest that love can
defeat the laws of naturalistic time and, therefore,
death. Basically, it means that love can conquer all. In Titanic, Rose never let go of her love for
Jack, so Jack didn’t really die (you know, like, in
her heart and all); in Les Miserables, Valjean was able
to save Marius and escape Javert because of his love
for Cosette; and in Ed Sheeran’s song “U.N.I.,” the narrator is able to overcome
his own mind, body, and heart and leave the girl he loves simply because
he loves her enough to let her live her own life instead of having it
dictated by his career. One of the most relevant examples of the time and immortality
archetypes is the popular British television show, Doctor Who. The
Doctor brings companions through all of time and space, basically defying
the naturalistic laws of time. Most of the companions travel with the Doctor because of their need to escape their lives and the finiteness of them. The Doctor himself seems like he is running from a shameful or dishonorable past and is trying to redeem himself by helping others. Incidentally, the Doctor is (kind of) immortal. His immortality is a perfect example of the regressus ad uterum in that when he “dies,” his body regenerates itself and he is reborn as a new person (it sounds a lot more confusing than it really is. Basically,
he gets a new body and a new mind, but he still has all the same
memories and most of the same character traits, but each
Doctor is a little bit different). Doctor Who Carl Jung Great psychologist- philosopher and one time student of Freud
Said the libido was more than sexual
Claimed Freudian theories were too negative (focused on neurotic rather than healthy aspects of the mind)
Hamlet is the mythos of Fall: tragedy because Hamlet is a tragedy about the Prince of Denmark who was able to rid Denmark of evil but with his life in the end. Primary Contribution Racial memory and archetypes Archetypes are not inherited, but predispositions to certain thoughts Dreams, myths, and art: media where archetypes are accessible to the mind Individuation psychological "growing up"; process of discovering those aspects of oneself that make one individual different from another. Structural Components Shadow-Villain
Anima-Heroine Conrad's Kurtz represents the shadow archetype with his dangerous aspect of the unrecognized dark half of the personality Anima- "Soul-image" "Every man has his own Eve within himself"
The Human psyche is bisexual; psychological characteristics of the opposite sex are generally unconscious, revealed only in dreams or projections on other people. Mediation between ego and unconscious