archetypes of literature essay

archetypes of literature essay

Exploring the Archetypes of Literature: An In-Depth Analysis

1. Introduction to Archetypes in Literature

In this unit, students investigate the major heroic archetypes and the myths related to heroes throughout time. Students read and discuss myths and stories of world cultures. Recognizing heroic archetypes enhances student understanding and appreciation of storytelling as well as increases their critical thinking and analytical writing. By providing students the chance to consider various archetypes, identify them in stories, and discuss their own and other cultures, they lay a foundation for an understanding of the myths that focus universal questions. Additionally, by examining these myths and their archetypal personalities, students open a dialogue between past and present. They will collaborate on applying universal insights to their own lives and stories. These topics will be incorporated into our language arts curriculum. Students will use these archetypes to analyze and compare myths and folktales. They will also employ their insight, perception, and creativity in reading, interpreting, and analyzing literature for broader, more extensive understanding; write responses enriched through reading, hearing, talking, and writing about archetypical themes in literature; and experiment with narrative form, voice, and tone, and apply critical thinking within the writing process.

Archetypes are symbols, themes, character types, and images that recur in the myths, dreams, and stories of people worldwide. Cultures throughout history have used these recurring characters to identify qualities in others and to communicate their values. Some of these characters and images include the hero, the journey, sacrifice, Sisyphean struggle, and “boiling stones.” Recognizing and examining these characters in works of literature enhances students’ understanding of the text as well as increases their critical thinking skills and analytical writing. Through an examination of myth-based literature, students will grasp a more profound understanding of the stories of peoples and cultures from ancient to modern times. Students will also analyze texts and consider the similarities and differences between what people in different cultures consider hero-like qualities, struggle, and sacrifice.

2. Common Archetypes and Their Significance

The mentor archetype, as the name implies, is the guiding force that educates the hero and helps him or her grow. The mentor gives the hero all the wisdom, philosophy, and advice necessary for the hero to be able to make decisions that will eventually help the hero grow and eventually find the path to success or freedom. Without the mentor’s guiding force, the hero would not be aware of what his or her inner power is. It is common to find the mentor being portrayed as elderly men, fathers, and teachers because of the vivid picture of care and knowledge that they possess. However, movies such as Harry Potter have also creatively spun the mentor to be a much younger character and in a completely different directional role: Harry’s mentor was his godfather, Sirius Black.

Archetypes in literature play significant roles that shape the entire flow of the story. But what are these common archetypes that people discuss and refer to? The hero is obviously the central character of the story, who encounters various forms of dilemmas, processes his or her solutions, and eventually goes through self-love in the process. The hero can typically be spotted as the main character of the story who starts from scratch and ends up being a changed person. The hero isn’t necessarily a brave soldier with swords and armor, but can also be a loving housewife, a devoted father, an alien, and even a rogue rabbit.

3. The Evolution of Archetypes in Different Literary Genres

Aristotle cautioned the playwright against getting too close to reality and knew that the character of Romeo or Juliet may step into the dramatist’s private desires. Archetype’s mysterious identity is not represented only by literature and the female role played in countless literary masterpieces of the twentieth century. Even the earliest echoes of a woman’s sad emotional and psychic involvement are a reflection of the classical archetype.

The Greek word “Tragedy” has found a permanent niche in history and describes the different literary form which we call gloom, sorrow, misery, distress, and affliction. A classical noble woman was the personification of hath and displaying emotions that give mythology such negative connotation and Odyssey, literature was replete with brave and noble women characters from whom later literary archetypes found their inspiration. These myths forcefully depicted social values and their mystical aspects of the human unconscious.

Jane Austen’s women had character. Her character-forming or shapely heroines still provide the reader with deeply emotional satisfaction. The women of classic literature projected the same psychosocial identity and verity which characterize the vision of the twentieth-century woman writers. In short, classically constructed women characters can represent an involved female principle and the universal dimension of feminine experience. The creative-animal existence of classically inspired facts of these women hang in, following the collective memory or unconscious of Austen’s period.

The cardinal facets of engaging literature shift from generation to generation, with the majority of twentieth-century novels revealing the existential dilemma of the individual. However, women’s endless search for creative personal identity is reflected in both past literary women and today’s contemporary women writers, each with vision and present not only brilliant pictorial archetypes but also highly energized symbols of psychic involvement.

4. The Influence of Archetypes on Character Development and Plot

There are many ways of interpreting character development, but it has been the classical habit of the archetypal novels to exploit the ability of physical identification. Most of the salient human experiences are transcribed into some threshold event in which the “subject” must evolve to a “sublimated” state in order to extend beyond the confines of his or her initial form of existence. Fairy tales thrive on breaking a human down to the point of death (requiring cathartic maturation of some kind) in order to redeem the “deserving party” to a life-after-innocence, happily ever after.

In the standard, plot-driven trilogy which has been classically canonized by modern archetypalists, this preparation frequently masks itself in the form of a “quest”. It would be mindlessly foolish for Frodo to embark on his journey if Gandalf did not apply every effort to impress upon him the momentous and dangerous undercurrents of the genteel doings around the Shire. And of as much value to the story, Frodo must have enough loyalty and strength of character to ultimately accept such warnings and advice.

Character development is a plot-driven process, in which characters grow and change according to the demands of the setting and the confines of the plot. Before any character arc is shown, the protagonist is molded into a model suitable to undertake any task that would theoretically inconvenience him or her if they were not properly structured. This consistency is probably the prerequisite for any other significant aspect of the protagonist’s psychology. If only for a logical foundation, an encompassing character must first be fashioned.

5. Conclusion: The Universality and Timelessness of Archetypes in Literature

The idea of the four steps of the heroine’s journey in overcoming her internal “demons” and maturing through personal transformation shows a potential mapping to the “real-world” challenge women face in a society of concentrated male power where ancient literary archetypes are mirrored in the roles for female personalities that are available in current reiteration processes. Included may be some practical considerations about the relevance of the four transitory steps: the false identity, the choice of career, the false goals, and the finding of love within herself not another, to achieving both personal and societal acceptance of the individuality and roles of women and the possible role that they can provide in resolving the inherent conflict between the values of femininity and the exercise of militaristic power.

In conclusion, the comparison of this non-exhaustive list of powerful literary works to the themes studied by utilizing the archetypes from literature shows the universality and timelessness of these themes in human culture. Additionally, these themes are varied and complex, capable of creating long and compelling tales in a rapidly evolving world of shrinking attention spans. Consequently, archetypal themes continue to be part of our most valued storytelling today, as they have been since the long ago days at the dawn of an orally-based human culture that has evolved and expressed the dynamics of the human mind and spirit throughout the ages. In some respect, these formalized stories from the historical roots of cultural anthropology have provided the raw material for the development of the particular mythologies, both diminished and deified, of the collective and individual unconscious.

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