Archetypes situation archetypes the Quest—


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The Quest—This motif describes the search for someone or some talisman which, when found and brought back, will restore fertility to a wasted land, the desolation of which is mirrored by a leader’s illness and disability. (Ex. The Lion King, Galahad’s search for the Holy Grail).

Beowulf’s search for glory. Corresponds to Flight in ppt. To search for…
The Task—To save the kingdom, to win the fair lady, to identify himself so that he may resume his rightful position, the hero must perform some nearly superhuman deed. NOT THE SAME AS THE QUEST—A FUNCTION OF THE ULTIMATE GOAL, THE RESTORATION OF ORDER. In many myths and stories, the hero must complete multiple Tasks before completing the Quest. (Ex. Frodo must arrive at Rivendale, Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone). To do…

The Journey—The journey sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary to restore fertility to the kingdom. Usually the hero descends into a real or psychological hell and is forced to discover the blackest truths, quite often concerning his own faults. Once the hero is at this lowest point, he must accept personal responsibility to return to the world of the living. (Ex. The Odyssey, The Fellowship of the Rings). To go…
The Initiation—This archetype usually takes the form of an initiation into adult life. The adolescent comes into his maturity with new awareness (and problems) along with new hope for the community. This awakening is often the climax of the story. (Ex. Huck Finn, The Hobbit). Corresponds to Test in ppt.

The Fall—This archetype describes a descent from a higher to a lower state of being. The experience involves a defilement and/or loss of innocence and bliss. The fall is often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as penalty for disobedience and moral transgression. (Ex. Adam and Eve, Lancelot and Guinevere).

Beowulf descends into Grendel’s lair. Beowulf’s arrogance about his prowess costs him his life. Corresponds to Crossing the Threshold in ppt.
Battle between Good and Evil—The battle between two primal forces. Mankind shows eternal optimism in the continual portrayal of good triumphing over evil despite great odds. ( Ex. Forces of Sauron and Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings).

Final battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother.
Death and Rebirth—The most common of all situational archetypes, this motif grows out of the parallel between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. Thus, morning and springtime represent birth, youth or rebirth; evening and winter suggest old age or death. Corresponds to Return in ppt.
Light versus Darkness—Light usually suggests hope renewal, or intellectual illumination; darkness implies the unknown, ignorance, or despair.

Corresponds to Crossing the Threshold in ppt.

Fire versus Ice—Fire represents knowledge, light, life, and rebirth, while ice, like desert represents ignorance, darkness, sterility, and death. When humans began to control fire, they began to control their environment and their lives. Beowulf’s funeral pyre. He asks Wiglaf to pass on knowledge.
Haven versus Wilderness— Places of safety contrast sharply against the dangerous wilderness. Heroes are often sheltered for a time to regain health and resources. (Ex. Batcave, Camelot, Rivendale).

Herot Hall is the haven.

Heaven vs. Hell ----Man has traditionally associated parts of the universe not accessible to him with the dwelling places of the forces that govern his world. The mountain tops and skies house his gods; the depths of the earth contain diabolical forces that inhabit his universe.

Grendel’s lair
The Hero—This archetype is so well defined that the life of the protagonist can be clearly divided into a series of well-marked adventures which strongly suggest a pattern. The circumstances around his conception are unusual, and at birth some attempt is made to kill him. He is, however, spirited away and reared by foster parents. Almost nothing is known about his childhood, but upon reaching manhood he returns to his future kingdom. After a victory over the king or a wild beast, he marries a princess, becomes king, reigns uneventfully, but later loses favor with the gods. He is then driven from city after which he meets a mysterious death, often at the top of a hill. His body is not buried, but nevertheless, he has one or more holy sepulchers. (Ex. Christ, Perseus, Arthur, Robin Hood, Frodo).
The Initiate—These are young heroes or heroines who, prior to their quest, must endure some training and ceremony. They are usually innocent and often wear white. (Ex. Arthur, Daniel in The Karate Kid).

Beowulf’s repeated attempts to slay Grendel
The Loyal Retainer—This individual is a servant who is heroic. His duty is to protect the hero and reflect the nobility of the hero. (Ex. R2D2-C3PO, Robin and Batman, Little John & Robin Hood).
Beowulf’s men. Wiglaf in particular.

The Outcast—A figure who is banished from a social group for some crime (real or imagined) against his fellow man. Sometimes the outcast can rise above his circumstance and become a hero or an assistant to the hero. (Ex. Simba, Snow White, Romeo, Robin Hood).


The Creature of Nightmare—A monster usually summoned from the deepest, darkest part of the human psyche to threaten the lives of the hero/heroine. Often it is a perversion or desecration of the human body. (Ex. Werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein, Marshmallow Man from Ghost Busters, Freddy Kruger).
Grendel, Grendel’s mother.

The Scapegoat—An animal or more usually a human whose death in a public ceremony expiates some taint or sin that has been visited upon a community. Their death often makes them a more powerful force in the society than when they lived.
Grendel. His death results in his mother’s powerful rage.

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