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Copy of Archetypes in Native American Myth

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April Smith

on 20 August 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Archetypes in Native American Myth

What is an archetype?
A pattern that appears in literature across cultures and is repeated through the ages. An archetype can be a character, a plot, a theme, an image, or a setting.
Examples of archetypes
Settings & Symbols
Garden: ordered and controlled; youth and innocence vs. experience (Garden of Eden) Forest: chaos and disorder
Caves, tunnels, pools of water: symbols of descent into the unconscious or the inner self
River: Life and time continue; eternal change; destiny
The sea: mysterious Source of life; sometimes represents the unconscious
Seasons:
Summer: Romance--good guys over bad; youthful adventure resulting in hero; innocence and triumph
Autumn: Tragedy--hero dead or defeated
Winter: Irony, Satire--absent hero, society leaderless and lacking sense of norms and values
Spring: rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation--hero returns and order is restored.
Characters
Hero: "larger than life" --able to accomplish wondrous deeds
Fatal woman/Temptress: the woman who through her power renders strong men weak (Eve, Circe)
Scape-goat or sacrificial Victim: most gods and heroes suffer and/or die for the sake of their society (Christ)
Alter-ego/Double or Shadow: embodies ancient psychological truths about man's dual nature-good vs. evil (Cain & Abel)
The Innocent: character moves from innocence to experience and knowledge (Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast)
Archetypes in Native American Literature
Some archetypes that frequently appear in Native American myths


Fire
Mother goddess
Water
the tree
old men (wise men)
Old Man
Coyote
Circle
Many elements of nature can be symbolic of larger ideas. For example, what different ideas might a tree symbolize?
Themes or Patterns of Experience
Journey, search or quest: for origins (who's my father?), identity, perfection, love, wisdom, salvation (Odysseus)
Initiation: character moves from innocence into experience and knowledge; childhood to adulthood. Initiate undergoes trials, tests and other rituals. Often combines with Journey or Quest.
Transformation: literal--in myth and fairy tales evil witch may change a person into an animal; the love of a woman may change a beast into a handsome prince.
Death and Rebirth/Fall and Redemption: both literal and symbolic
Full transcript