Six frequently used archetypal patterns


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Archetypes are recurring images, character types, symbols, and narrative patterns. These archetypes are the structural principles that give literature its unity.
Archetypes recur often enough in all literature to be recognizable as elements of our total imaginative experience. They may be characters (the scapegoat, the saviour victim), events (sacrifices, rites of initiation), images (wastelands, gardens), stories (the monster slaying story, the Cinderella story) or themes (love is more powerful than evil).
Archetypes are commonly manifested in myths, in the Bible, in the classics, in contemporary literature, comics, films, children’s writing, songs, etc. They are units that organize our imaginative experience. Their presence in literature permits us to make connections between literary works and literature as a whole. Literature is an expression of our imaginative attempt to bring shape, order, structure to our human experience.
Literature begins in myth:

  • Our imaginative effort to explain the natural world

  • Earliest example of connecting ourselves with the natural world—fire god

  • We still do this today with simile and metaphor

  • Literature’s fundamental concern has always been with identity—seeing unity (harmony) of Eden or Golden Age

Myths provide society with a sense of its contract, its abiding relations with gods, with the order of nature and with itself. At first, a poet’s job was to teach what they remembered.

They told us:

-who we were -where we came from

-who our enemies were -who our heroes are

-what was owed to the gods -what days were good for planting

-how to conduct a battle -vision of the future
Six frequently used archetypal patterns:

  1. Golden Age (creation)
  2. God teacher/God temper (Prometheus)

  3. End of childhood/loss of innocence

  4. Cataracts of heaven/the Flood

  5. Metamorphosis/Changes

  6. Human Year (seasons, rituals)


  • People are storytellers, fight to survive in a threatening world—must use imagination to try to make sense out of life on the sometimes cruel, sometimes generous earth

  • Told themselves stories that give human meaning to the changes and cycles that they are subject to--- myths

  • In myths, people often imagined that they originated in a time of peace, when seasons didn’t change and threaten them with cold and hunger, when they weren’t lonely, when they were loved by the gods

  • As people have advanced, they’ve continued to use their imagination to try to recover that sense of belonging to the earth that they had once possessed

  • Though gods eventually disappeared from our stories, our literature continues to be a search for our lost human identity, a quest to rebuild or rediscover our lost perfect world

  • Literature is a continuous journal of the imagination—expresses our desire to know, to piece the mysteries the old myths tried to piece to see the universe as a human home (we still tell myths, only we call them by a different name)

  • Golden Age—term originated with the Greeks—image of an original perfect world

Archetypal Pattern: the gods created the world as a Golden Age—people lose the Golden Age—people continually try to regain the Golden Age

  • Pattern can be seen at the core of all literature

Creation: filling of the void and telling creation stories also fills a void. By seeing gods as human, people gave a human shape or human order to the world allowing them to understand and communicate with its forces.

  • We reject chaos; we desire order

The Golden Age: Image of the perfect world (utopia). Early myths reflect/create a world which once was, a world of peace in which people lived in harmony and there was harmony and peace with both nature and the gods. A separation from the gods occurs—people lose Garden of Eden/Paradise/Perfection/Utopia. Through their imagination, people have tried to recover that state of belonging to the earth; thus they created original golden age. People try to get back/recreate/regain the golden age. It’s a cyclical pattern. This archetype is the basis for most literature (core of most mythology and stories in literature). The quest story (to regain a perfect world); to find/create what is missing or that they don’t have in order to fill a void. It is people’s attempt to come to terms with order and chaos.

The Four Ages

1) The Golden Age (SPRING/birth)

  • A world without war or division—all people are happy

  • No need to work—the earth was abundant and provided all that people needed to survive

  • “rivers of Milk and honey”

  • people felt in harmony with gods and nature—similar to paradise, Eden or when world was ruled by Cronus/Saturn

2) The Silver Age (SUMMER/prime)

  • silver less valuable than gold—suggests the ideas so common in mythology that the history of the world is not a story of progress and evolution towards a higher or better life, but a loss of paradise, a progressive falling away from an earlier, happy state

  • idea of time began—the seasons as we know them—extremes of temperature made it necessary to build houses, wear clothes, as caves and trees were no longer warm enough

  • now people had to work, plant, grain, etc.
  • perhaps because world was not as kind, people became less kind—competition to survive, jealousy

3) The Bronze Age (AUTUMN/middle,declining years)

  • people made newer weapons—more divisiveness, conflict is suggested

  • note the constant process of division, separation from paradisal state of existence

4) The Iron Age (WINTER/old age)

  • the fall from paradise if completed, as all evil is loosed on the world

  • negative qualities of people—trickery, plotting, cheating, violence, and the desire to possess/materialism

  • values altered with this desire to own things, especially iron and gold

  • war resulted, iron used for weapons and gold to pay soldiers

  • traditional values of family life, courtesy to stranger, piety toward gods all vanished

  • even Justice was gone; the fall is complete

  • finally even gods warred against each other


  • myths describe gods who were to be worshipped but also feared

  • these gods created life, but they also seemed to destroy without warning or reason

  • people, alone in a world full of terrors, felt that all their activities, customs, and discoveries had to be approved by the gods

  • they were afraid to risk punishment by doing something that was taboo, forbidden by the gods

  • it was unthinkable that the remote all-high gods would ever come into direct contact with lowly mortals to teach them what was right or wrong, approved or forbidden

  • the imagination had to build a bridge to connect the human world with the unapproachable divine world

  • an intermediary was needed, a link between heaven and earth, a channel for divine sympathy

  • myths about the god-teacher provided this divine sanction for the rituals and traditions people lived by

  • such myths assured people that all their human activities stemmed from divine instruction

  • fire, one of our most important discoveries, has always been associated with the divine

  • some people thought that fire was a god visiting earth, or that it was a property the gods had stored away in wood

  • some felt that in making fire people could rekindle the power of the sun-god himself

  • fire, then, like the gods, was both feared and desired

  • it could be both comforting and terrifying

  • it could help people create the world they wished for, but it could also create a nightmare of pain and destruction

  • in myths, one of the god-teacher’s gifts to people is almost always fire

  • it was a gift that reduced the power which fate and chance had over human life

  • fire, the gods’ secret, gave people godlike power to determine their own destiny

  • but in Greek mythology, the god who shared the divine secret of fire is also a tragic victim

  • Prometheus dared to cross the highest god and he was punished

  • He dared to have sympathy for people and he was tortured and humiliated for it

  • He tried to help people achieve the world of wish, and he was punished by being chained to the world of nightmare

  • The Prometheus figure is character who takes pity on ignorant people, who teaches them arts and skills

  • He’s also the god who dares to lead people out of an ignorant, innocent state and give them godlike knowledge and awareness and the responsibilities of civilization

  • Myths provide a society with a sense of its contract with the gods
  • God-teacher myth is often a vehicle of values, informing us what the gods expect, reward or condemn

  • He tells of our past, present, and points toward a worthwhile future, supplies a model for human behaviour

  • God-teacher can take many forms: animal (coyote)—American Indian Myths

Human (Greek-Prometheus)

(Chinese- Nu-Kua and Fu-his)

oracles, seers, high priests, visionaries
The God-teacher’s actions result in: increased community solidarity and establishment of a framework for seeking personal and social identity

  • a dual character, both positive and negative

Positive: the benevolent god—generous, provides us with our desires and needs; cares about what becomes of us.

  • The teacher in this role acts as a bridge between divine power and humanity; unites us with the divine powers that created us so that we know part of the divine plan; he/she gives us some godly characteristics (i.e. knowledge, skills, power)—all those things which let us recreate paradise.

  • Has a social function—supplies a model for human behaviour; as far as people can progress towards being gods, they must take the advice of their god-teacher (teaches survival—fire, food, clothes; creation—crafts, arts, writing)

  • A world of infinite possibilities, and the god-teacher, as a creature of literature, displays these possibilities before us and places them within human reach

Negative: the god-tempter, malevolent—appears less frequently in myths, more frequently in modern literature which tends to take an ironic view of god’s gifts. Some see the god as indifferent to human survival; interest in humanity limited to entertainment. Gives person what he wants, not what he needs.


  • Even as children, we look out into the world with double vision—we see a world we want to keep and a world we want to reject

  • Our imagination puts this split into perspective

  • Helps us stand back from the terrible things in life and control them and shape them and share them by singing, talking, writing about them

  • “Loss of innocence” = growing up—innocence fades and is replaced by experience or knowledge of the world

  • however, in the imagination, it’s the opening of the forbidden jar, eating of the forbidden fruit, death of a loved one, destruction of something beautiful: it’s a story or an event that symbol of a universal human experience

  • fall from innocence archetype signifies that we can’t hide from time

  • discovery that all the potential happiness we feel in childhood is often realized in adulthood

  • discovery that playing house isn’t the same as running a house, playing war isn’t the same as actually killing someone

  • the fall is facing the fact that death and the facts of life, seeing the reality behind the mystery, and the mystery behind the reality

  • myths give us many answers as to why we fall: discontent, chance, fate, time, a god’s whim, human pride

  • it’s often a challenge made by one human to another (Eve to Adam), as though humans are fated to draw each other into the web of experience

  • at one time, people marked passage from childhood to adulthood with a ritual—initiation customs have now become tokens, but many still survive and still convey a sense of mystery

  • i.e. why does a bride wear a colour that symbolizes innocence, why must one undergo initiation before entering a fraternity

  • literature, which organizes all human experience, offers some ways of recovering aspects of childhood, some ways of regaining innocence

  • we have stories about evil being overcome by the power of innocence, heroes who defeat evil with courage/honour/suffering, images of the golden world that we still believe in and are trying to rebuild

  • literature, like all art, as it conquers time, recovers for us certain aspects of childhood and innocence

  • if some innocence is regained, what kind of innocence is it? How has it changed? Perhaps it’s “mature innocence” or integrity, nobility, identity

Appears in literature on two levels—individual and social.

Individual Level

  • End of childhood is seen as a personal catastrophe or trauma, a rude awakening, or shattered illusion

  • It tells of the tragedy that is inherent in growing up, the passing away of innocence and the onset of experience

  • Awareness of loss—broken toy, friend moves away, parents split, someone dies

  • Awareness of limitations—cannot make the team, cannot defeat the enemy, cannot avoid death

  • Initiation into the adult world—get a job, encounter difficulty with finances, etc.

  • Often precipitated by a self-centered characteristic (pride—Eve, curiosity—Pandora)

Social Level

  • A community-wide awareness of loss or national shock; the community experiences loss, evil, sorrow, harsh reality

  • Early myths describe the origin of evil—Adam and Eve, Pandora

  • Deals with the death of princes, presidents, respected leaders, the corrupt behaviour or these people and the subsequent effect on those affected kingdoms

  • With this archetype, the death of innocence is manifested

Overall: a movement from a sense of security into a burden of responsibility; a limited rosy view (a wider but grayer outlook on life); timeless existence (an awareness of the passing of time)

The death of innocence: encounter with war, introduction to crime, initial sexual experience.
The death of an innocent: young woman brought down by cancer, innocents killed in a war, young killed in an accident.


  • The flood is associated with doomsday

  • With “the flood” comes a death and rebirth cycle

  • Flood wipes out human race—described with certain details which recur in literature:

    • 1) wasteland—the earth before the deluge is in spiritual decay

    • 2) one good man/one good woman—needed to recreate the earth

  • With the loss of the Golden Age, people drew away from intimacy with the gods

  • Learning to use the gifts of the god-teacher, they learned to despise the gods themselves, finding in progress and the artifacts of civilization an acceptable substitute for the gods, a suitable surrogate religion

  • Put innocence behind, invented evil, discovered death—slid far from original state—thus, gods thought annihilation more effective than salvage

  • Flood—cataracts (large waterfall/rush of water)

  • Historians believe there was a deluge in the Mesopotamian region during the 3rd millennium B.C.

  • This catastrophe probably supplied details of the Babylonian, Hebrew, and Greek flood stories, but the shape of the story and its extraordinary hold on human imagination owe little to an ancient thunderstorm

  • Power of the flood story lies in the image of doomsday and in the concept of a death-and-rebirth cycle
  • These imaginative constructs transcend history and project themselves into our present and our future, supplying us with tools for ordering our experience

  • Flood is an overwhelming storm that wipes out the human race, but it is also an event that is described with certain details that often recur whenever and wherever the story is retold

  • One is the wasteland—the earth before the deluge is in spiritual decay

  • Another is one good man and one good woman—simple fact that the human race must have somehow begun again; this virtuous couple is also a symbol of hope in the midst of despair, a humanization of the Hope that accompanied the evil Spites in Pandora’s jar—a new Adam and Eve—a second chance

  • Ark- recurs as well—the saving ship, often designed by divine command, is a symbol of the vehicle of rebirth that we see now in so many other forms (Moses’ wickers basket, Superman’s space capsule, the womb itself)

  • Mountaintop—landing place that makes not only common sense, but imaginative sense as well—a great height always serves as the place where epiphanies occur—closest spot on earth to heaven, easiest point of communication with the gods

  • Destructive sea- water in the flood story is an image of both death and birth; it destroys yet is saves; it takes and gives life; it signifies the end of order and the return of chaos to the earth

  • However, water also functions as a void through which the hero must pass in order to triumph

  • The flood story is both cyclical and dialectical

  • Cyclical: tells one story of the decay of our nobility, our destruction/purification by the gods, and the establishment of a new human community

  • Dialectical: manifests both sides of experience, the divine and the demonic, the gods as destroyers and the gods as creators
  • Suggests that destruction and creation are inseparable

  • The flood is the story of the labour pains necessary to bring forth a new creature, a new person born again into innocence

Modern forms of the flood: nuclear war, environmental destruction

The Flood:

  • Inevitable result of events described in our first three archetypes (disobeying gods, etc.)

  • Loss of the Golden Age, withdrawing from the gods, learning to use the gifts of the God-teacher—finding progress and artifacts of civilization a substitute

  • Come to worship their own creations and neglect worship of the gods

  • Become so evil that they are considered no longer salvageable by the gods—gods destroy them and start over

Why the flood story still “works”:

  • The image of doomsday, the concept of death-rebirth cycle

  • These imaginative constructs transcend history and supply us, as all archetypes do, with tools for ordering our experience

1) The wasteland image:

  • Land barren, incapable of growing or sustaining life/vegetation

  • Life of earth seen as state of spiritual decay

2) The one good man and one good woman:

  • A symbol of hope in the midst of despair

  • Symbol of new Adam and Eve

  • Somehow there has to be a new beginning to the human race

3) The ark:

  • The saving ship, often designed by god’s orders; a symbol of rebirth

4) The mountaintop:

  • Landing place, a high spot close to heaven for easy communication with the gods—a high place where epiphanies can occur

5) The sea:
  • Destructive, but also symbol of rebirth/salvation

  • The end of order, return of chaos

The flood is a laborious pain necessary to bring forth a new creature, born again into innocence.


META = Greek for beyond

MORPHOSIS = Greek for carry


  • “metamorphosis”—Greek for “changes of form”

  • today we use science to turn living trees into writing paper, technology to turn machines into intelligent decision-makers, cosmetics to turn age into youth

  • when we look at the natural world, we notice that it is something distinct from ourselves

  • it can’t communicate with us; it seems to have no thoughts/feelings; many aspects of the natural world are even hostile to us

  • from the earliest times, people have tried to make themselves at home in a world that they feel separate from, and in which they are often lonely and frightened

  • one of the earliest activities was to use words as symbols for things

  • we used language to classify what we saw around us

  • we could divide the world into an almost endless array of distinct parts

  • but this kind of mental activity also impressed upon us our own separation from nature

  • it may have increased our power and confidence, but it also increased our sense of aloneness

  • we also discovered that boundaries in nature did not seem to be fixed

  • i.e. pale seed becomes green plant, water comes down as rain, rises as steam, and returns as morning dew; worm becomes a butterfly

  • ask “how” and “why not”

  • idea of flux, of things flowing into one another, appeals to our imaginative desire to make the universe “one”

  • if it’s possible that the natural, human, and divine worlds can flow in and out of each other, then we needn’t feel alone and apart from things around us

  • imagination isn’t practical/logical—thus, life as continuous whole—nothing needs to be fixed/static

  • i.e. certain American Indians believed that they assumed the power of an animal when they put on certain masks—metamorphosis expressed in ritual

  • use of similes/metaphors—the imagination wants to see beyond the distinct and separate shapes of life

  • thus, with this archetype, in imagination, people can “become” something else—in reality, however, such as desire can’t be achieved

  • however, imagination isn’t subject to reality

  • in “reality” we are subject to the changes of time, but we can imagine changes that are not

  • idea of metamorphosis is an expression of our wishes and our nightmares

  • it reflects our ambitions to become like gods, to conquer death, while also reflecting our fear of being reduced to something less than human or to nothing

Kind of Metamorphosis:

  • Gradual or sudden transformation from one outward form to another

  • Rebirth from one outward form to another

  • A metamorphosis story is a metaphor which has been expanded into narrative form to tell how this becomes this.

Basis: metamorphosis is the concept that there is a reality which underlies outward forms; belief in metamorphosis requires a belief in the fundamental oneness of all things—in the oneness of the universe

  • People constantly alter themselves or are altered by experiences

  • Masks are worn; we assume roles/stereotypes
  • Nothing in nature is static or fixed; constantly in flux

  • Romantic pattern: start out ugly and become beautiful

  • Tragic pattern: initially change is good but leads to destruction

Why metamorphosis is appealing:

  • Lets us become something else

  • Suggests we won’t die

  • Suggests we can conquer time

Examples of metamorphosis in previous stories:
Golden Age------ Iron Age

Primitive Humans------ God Teacher------ civilized people

Innocence------ experience




  • in the beginning, people looked around them

  • they saw the sun that rose and set and rose again, a moon that waxed and waned and waxed again, a year that flourished, decayed and flourished again

  • they saw the whole world responding to and participating in cycles

  • wasn’t long before imagination began to express nature’s cycles in human terms

  • they began to think of the world in metaphors

  • the sun became a god, who, in daytime, drove a fiery chariot across the sky, put his horses in a dark stable at night, and began the journey again the next morning

  • flowers became gods who were born, died, and were reborn again the next spring

  • these metaphors were extended into myths

  • narratives of myths also followed the natural cycles

  • some god or goddess, often a young person associated with crops, appears, has adventures, dies, and somehow returns to life again

  • however, it wasn’t only stories that people patterned after the cycles of nature
  • patterned their actions after nature—created bodily movements and sounds to imitate nature, to participate symbolically in the cycles of the physical universe—i.e. rain dance—ritual which created an imaginary thunderstorm, a human one

  • people clustered rituals around every crucial period of their own life cycle: birth, initiation, marriage, death

  • ritual was one of people’s ways of synchronizing the human world with the natural one

  • rituals weren’t just recurrent acts related to nature

  • they were also social acts that expressed people’s most deeply felt wishes and nightmares

  • a rain dance, or the ritualistic killing of a king, expressed a desire for fertility as well as a fear of drought and barrenness

  • most of the old rituals eventually fell into disuse, but even today, in our imaginative expressions, we still use the two patterns that distinguished rituals: the cyclical pattern and the opposition pattern, the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and the conflict of wish and nightmare

  • in literature, the rhythm of the seasons provides a store of opposing images that relate to emotions that swing back and forth in the human mind and heart

  • it isn’t be chance that a poet’s expression of despair is set in winter and an expression of love in spring

  • the poet identifies “outer weather” with a corresponding “inner weather”

  • spring—time of planting, growth, related in imagination to youth, hope, courtship, love

  • summer—time of ripening—related to maturing of relations, comradeship, community, fertility, passion

  • fall—time of harvest—related to reflection and declining vigour

  • winter—when earth seems sterile, is related to death and emptiness

  • rituals are pre-verbal actions; literature is the verbal form of our quest for identity, our neverending effort to humanize the world, to complete the portrait of the person we want to become and of the society we want to live in
  • today, just as people did long ago, we use our imagination to try to control the universe, rather than have it control us

  • we still want to create the truly human society, a society that combines the power of nature and the potential of human beings

  • these are our goals, and the discoveries we make as we seek to fulfill them are the many meanings of our life

  • achievement of these goals demands the full and final uses of the imagination

  • Metaphor, ritual, myth are people’s earliest attempts to penetrate the pattern of the universe

  • They observed the rhythms of life around them: the rising of the sun, migration of herds, waking and sleeping

  • The archetype of the human year shows one way the imagination orders and transforms experience. By relating our life to the cycle of the seasons, we can imagine a pre-established mold into which all our experiences can be poured

  • Thus, this paradigm (outstandingly clear, typical example, archetype):

  1. Summer/romance: the season of the Golden Age, a time of harmony/growth

  2. Autumn/tragedy: awareness of the death of the year, loss of summer “childhood”, the onslaught of harsh experience

  3. Winter/Irony: frozen, inert season, when nature hangs between defeat and victory, suitable season for stories that end in defeat and frustration, life is seen as sterile, without heroes, meaning or gods

  4. Spring/comedy: season of rebirth and renewal, reconciliation with one another and with nature—the comic vision



  • Starts with cycles (seasons) of nature—seasons pass; day turns to night; human cycle of life, death, rebirth

  • Provides us with conflict—the rise and fall, birth and death
  • Rise associated with comedy; fall associated with tragedy

  • Earliest stories reflect/imitate nature’s cycle—heroes are born, go on quests/adventures, die, and are reborn


  • Associated with cyclical pattern—we want to transcend cyclical pattern, be liberated from limiting cycles; create free human society that overcomes time and lasts forever; quest for identity

  • Awareness of the hostile and alien (satire/irony) world we live in versus the ‘unified’ human world we would like to live in (romance)

  • Provides conflict between heaven and hell; we want heaven—world above the gods

These two structure patterns/principles are part of all literary imagery and are important to understanding literature. They explain why certain images, symbols, characters, and plot recur in literature.

Out of this cycle of life, death, and renewal and our reactions to it comes the four narratives—the four plots.


  • Four narrative plots form two opposed pairs: tragedy vs. comedy, romance vs. irony

  • Also aspects of unifying quest-myth: could be considered a circle of stories; conflict, adventure, and triumph are basis of romance, the first story; catastrophe is theme of tragedy, the second story; defeat, confusion and anarchy, and the loss of the heroic are themes of satire and irony, the third story; the rise and recognition of new, free society is theme of comedy, the fourth story

Romance: The First Story

  • Most typical romance narratives are set in world of innocence (heroes have mysterious origin, godly parents)

  • Most common romance plot is hero’s quest—perilous journey, crucial test, triumph and exaltation or hero after success (completion of quest)
  • 2 central characters of the quest story are the hero (associated with youth, spring, dawn, order, fertility) and adversary (associated with old age, winter, darkness, confusion, sterility); characters are one dimensional (good or evil, helpless maiden)

  • the women in romance are usually either rescued maidens or brides. Their opposites are evil witches, betrayers and seducers.

  • setting is idyllic (pastoral, trees, animals)—usually fulfils our desire for order and meaning

  • romances deal with progression towards fulfillment (released wife, acquired treasure, victory over enemy)

Tragedy: The Second Story

  • tragedy tries to understand a world which can crush human greatness— is a pattern of action that shows us something that we wish did not have to happen: i.e. death, cutting down of the hero

  • another kind of tragic story—the archetypal loss of innocence (recognition of evil in the world)—person suffers and dies for a cause; order restored; innocence in such short stories is more like inexperience and the central figures are usually young people, baffled by their first contact with the adult world

  • another type of tragedy with heroic dimensions is the story of the person who suffers or dies for some cause, usually a nation. These heroes are victims too, but willing ones, and there is a victory in their defeat; the victims are destroyed, but they save the nation or pass on an ideal

  • there is another kind of tragic hero, the one who lives even further down in the world of experience, almost in a state that offers less freedom than what we see as normal

  • characters may be victims of time, fate; are larger than ordinary humans; often isolated from society, have extraordinary destinies

Satire and Irony: The Third Story
  • plot is a parody of romance (romance is a mythical pattern of innocence, irony is a mythical pattern of experience)—deals with world of experience, world without heroes (ambiguous and unidealized world of experience); grants that the world is full of folly, crime and injustice, but world still worth reforming

  • conventions themselves may be the object of attack: successful rogue who shows up society or a pragmatist who criticizes social norms

  • questions our reasons and our perceptions; reveal bitterness, resignation; there is little hope

  • satire goes too far: people change masks, reverse direction, lose their way

Comedy: The Fourth Story

  • simplest plot: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl

  • clear that a whole new world is being formed around the hero and heroine when united

  • at the end—wedding, dance or feast

  • comic plots stretch from the romantic to the ironic

  • theme of illusion vs. reality is common and comic resolution frequently involves dispelling illusions caused by disguise, obsession, hypocrisy or unknown parentage

  • have blocking figure (usurpers, imposter, parent), but always move to happy ending; love conquers all

  • society of the hero is real because it strips away illusion and the feeling is frequently not only of a new society but of a return to an older society closer to the golden age

  • society is freed from problems, conflict, tyrant, illusions are dispelled

  • examples of comic plots: obsessed society remaining undefeated, the hero not succeeding in reforming but escaping and their hero outwitting or reforming blocking forces


  • Myths reveal the mind and character of the people, their hopes, values, fears, dreams

  • Stories, fact or fantasy, which humans see as demonstrating the inner meaning of the universe and human life
  • Similar motifs or themes found among many different widely separated mythologies; motifs are called archetypes-universal symbols

Jungian Psychology: theory of racial memory and archetypes
Carl Jung: psychologist-philosopher

  • Former student of Freud—expanded Freud’s theories of the personal unconscious

  • Freud’s approach to psychoanalysis focused too much on the neurotic aspects of the psyche

  • Jung perceived a primeval, collective unconscious—contains that psychological “residue” of man’s ancestral past

  • “racial memory”

  • mind is not born a “clean slate”—like the body—it has a pre-established individual definiteness

  • mind consists of instinctive ideas, feelings, attitudes called archetypes—motifs/primordial images—“myth-forming” structural elements ever-present in the unconscious psyche

  • Jung stressed that it’s only possible to live the fullest life (healthy) when we are in harmony with these psychic instincts

Myths : the means by which archetypes, essentially unconscious forms, become manifest and articulate to the conscious mind

  • Jung detected an intimate relationship between dreams, myths and art—all three serves as media through which archetypes become accessible to consciousness

Eg. The artist: “primordial vision”—a special sensitivity to archetypal patterns; a gift for speaking in primordial images which enable him to transmit experiences of the “inner world” to the “outer world” through his art form

  • Jung theorized neuroses to be the result of the person’s failure to confront and to accept some archetypal components of his unconscious

  • In addition to the collective unconscious the mind has a personal subconscious—darker half of this region he referred to as THE SHADOW
  • SHADOW—darker half of the personality—often dangerous—belongs to the primitive, uncivilized, pre-evolutionary past of humanity

  • Hatred, greed, jealously—traits which we deny owning

  • In literature, the shadow is represented in such characters as Othello and Iago, Roger (Lord of the Flies)


1) Creation—fundamental—every mythology has one; Nature and Man were created by some supernatural being(s)

2) Immortality

    1. escape from Time: return to paradise

    2. mystical submersion into Cyclical Time; theme of endless death and regeneration; man achieves a kind of immortality by submitting to the rhythm of Nature’s eternal cycle—cycle of seasons

3) Hero Archetypes—Transformation and Redemption

a) The Quest—hero (saviour-deliverer) long journey-impossible tasks—save the kingdom—marry the princess

b) Initiation—hero undergoes a series of ordeals in passing from ignorance and immaturity to social and spiritual adulthood

(Three stages to initiation: (i) separation; (ii) transformation; (iii) return

c)Sacrificial Scapegoat; hero must die to atone for sins and restore land

From Northrop Frye, Jungian Archetypes Shadow, Persona, Anima (p. 137)
Theory of individuation—a psychological growing up—individual recognizes the various aspects favourable of his total self.
The SHADOW is the darker side of the personality—less pleasing aspects of the personality which people wish to suppress (in literature—Iago, Satan, Lord of the Flies).

The PERSONA is the actor’s mask that we show the world, social personality to achieve psychological maturity. The individual must have a flexible persona that can be brought into harmony with the other components of his make-up. Mediates between ego and the outer world. If the persona isn’t flexible, the problems of personality and symptoms of neuroses are possible (i.e. Holden)

The ANIMA is the soul image, the life force, centre of ambition, vital energy; sets humankind apart from other animals: “the living thing in man, that which lives and causes life. Female designation—the image of the opposite sex, that he carries in both his personal and his collective unconscious. Every man has his own Eve within him.”

  • The anima is a kind of mediator between the ego (the conscious will or thinking self) and the unconscious or inner world of the individual. (mediates disputes within the personality)

  • The phenomenon of love, especially love at first sight may be explained by Jung’s theory of the anima: we tend to be attached to members of the opposite sex who mirror the characteristics of our own inner selves.

  • Reveals itself in dreams or in projections upon others in the environment

  • In women the Animus is the masculine side of her psyche

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