What is the purpose of archetypes?
How can archetypes help you understand a society’s cultural values? Unlike specific story elements, such as a single character, archetypes span many different stories. Trends in storytelling can say a lot more about what a culture values or fears than any single story element.
Analyzing Literature With Archetypes Writers use literary archetypes because they resonate with readers. Archetypes speak to a common human experience, whether they appear through characters, settings, situations, or symbols.
Broadly, a hero is a main character in literature. The hero character may possess great or admirable qualities and be forced to overcome obstacles in the course of the story. Often, they embark on a quest that follows the stages of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.
Why are archetypes important in literature? Archetypes allow the reader or audience to connect certain parts of themselves with the characters, which can help them to become more invested in the story. This experience can help readers to see parts of themselves that maybe they hadn’t considered before.
In a literary context, characters (and sometimes images or themes) that symbolically embody universal meanings and basic human experiences, independent of time or place, are considered archetypes. For example, one of the most common literary archetypes is the Hero.
Archetypes are the recurring universal patterns and personality types that are part of the collective unconscious. These archetypes have appeared throughout most of humankind’s history, commonly found in art, stories and myths. They help us experience life, and drive human motivations and actions.
When reading literature that feature archetypes, we are able to look at patterns and figure out what a specific character means for the overall story. This also informs our understanding of the world because archetypes are not only in fiction, they’re in real life too.
Using archetypes that are based on character traits can drive people to work towards a goal for themselves, and can motivate people to support your cause. However, archetypes are not stereotypes. Using a cookie cutter character or pattern won’t tantalize your audience—it will bore them.
They have the ability to shape the entire function and structure of the literary text. Archetypes can determine what kind, and how much, of a connection the audience/reader will have with the work; therefore, their presence can greatly affect the characters, themes, and plot.
Archetype, (from Greek archetypos, “original pattern”), in literary criticism, a primordial image, character, or pattern of circumstances that recurs throughout literature and thought consistently enough to be considered a universal concept or situation.
An archetype is an emotion, character type, or event that is notably recurrent across the human experience. In the arts, an archetype creates an immediate sense of familiarity, allowing an audience member to relate to an event or character without having to necessarily ponder why they relate.