Archetypes in Literature: Actions/Events

The last but not the least – actions/events archetypes:

Journey–“The protagonist takes a journey, usually physical but sometimes emotional, during which he or she learns something about himself or herself or finds meaning in his or her life as well as acceptance in a community” (Herz and Gallo 112).
• Linear
• Circular
• Quests
• Quest for material wealth
• Quest for security, as a secure place to live
• Quest for kin
• Quest for global good, such as when a kingdom is threatened
• Quest for self, for self-identity or self-assurance
Rites of initiation
Parental Conflict and Relationships
• “The protagonist deals with parental conflict by rejecting or bonding with parents” (Herz and Gallo 117).
Coming of age
• Crucial for physical and/or psychological healing. During dreams, a person can grow. A person can fantasize freely in sleep. A transitional and beneficial period. In dream sphere can descend to the sphere of the Great Mother. Person awakens with a greater understanding of human nature (Knapp 88).
Sacrificial Rites
The Test or Trial
• “In the transition from one stage of life to another, the main character experiences a rite of passage through growth and change; he or she experiences a transformation” (Herz and Gallo 115).
Birth/Death and Rebirth
• “Through pain and suffering the character overcomes feelings of despair, and through a process of self-realization is reborn” (Herz and Gallo 110).
The Fall: Expulsion from Eden
• “The main character is expelled because of an unacceptable action on his or her part” (Herz and Gallo 111).
Annihilation/Absurdity/Total Oblivion
• “In order to exist in an intolerable world, the main character accepts that life is absurd, ridiculous, and ironic” (Herz and Gallo 116).

Archetypes in Literature: Settings

Now let’s talk about settings archetypes
• Cultivated and carefully planned. Restricted to certain vegetation.
•Habitat of the Great Mother (Mother Nature), the lunar force. Fertility. The vegetation and animals flourish in this “green world” because of the sustaining power of the Great Mother.
Symbolically the primitive levels of the feminine psyche, protective and sheltering. Those who enter often lose their
direction or rational outlook and thus tap into their collective unconscious. This unregulated space is opposite of the
cultivated gardens, which are carefully planned and are restricted to certain vegetation.
• Represents life and knowledge
Caves and tunnels
• Deep down where character delves into self
• Place that character goes when “invisible” or inactive
• At the extreme may signify death
Mountains and peaks
• Highest peak is place to “see” far
• Place to gain great insight
The River
• Crossing river may symbolize new territory
• Rivers can be boundaries or borders & on the other side is
something new or different
• May represent human life or time passing as we follow the river
from its source to its mouth
The Sea
• Vast, alien, dangerous, chaos
• Waves may symbolize measures of time and represent eternity
or infinity
• Stands for purification; the sprinkling of water (baptism)
washes away sin. Water of fountain gives new life (Knapp 32).
• Microcosms or small worlds unto themselves
• Represent isolation or get-a-ways

Archetypes in Literature

Definition of Archetype:

“A universally recognizable element . . . that recurs across all literature and life (Latrobe 13). Psychologist Carl Jung called these elements a kind of “collective unconscious” of the human race, prototypes rather than something gained from experience. The word is derived from the Greek: arche, original, and typos, form or model; thus, original model
(Latrobe 13).
An archetype is the first real example or prototype of something (as the Model T is the prototype of the modern automobile). In this sense an archetype can be considered the ideal model, the supreme type or the
perfect image of something (Brunel 111-112, 114). A key to understanding folk literature is to understand archetypes. “An archetype is to the psyche what an instinct is to the body. . . . . Archetypes are the psychic instincts of the human species.” (Edinger as quoted in Knapp 10). Archetypes are universal in human beings. Archetypes result in a deep emotional response for readers. “Archetypes are repeated patterns that recur in the literature of every
age” (Sloan 48).

Examples of Archetypes

Hero (think of the classic hero journey & qualities of hero)
• “The main character leaves his or her community to go on an adventure, performing deeds that bring honor to the community” (Herz and Gallo 121).
Mother figure
• Fairy Godmother (surrogate mother)—comforts and directs
child, especially when he or she is confused and needs
guidance. Represents powers that can be called on for help
when it is needed. Helps young person to solve own problems
(Knapp 71).
•Earth Mother
• Stepmother
The great teacher/mentor
• Wise old men/women—protects or helps main character when he or she faces challenges.
The innocent
• Child/Youth
• Inexperienced adult
• Split personality—the other side of an individual
Helping animals
The Sacrificial Redeemer
• “The protagonist is willing to die for his or her beliefs; the main character maintains a strong sense of morality” (Herz and Gallo 123).
Scapegoat/Sacrificial Victim
The Giant/Monster/Ogre
• Wolf
Evil figure
• The Devil
• Serpent


Walt Whitman Background on Poetry

The following elements of style are frequently evident in Whitman’s poetry.

1. Written in free verse, no rhyme or meter.
2. Long flowing lines (some say there is a pattern: opening lines short, middle lines long,
closing lines short)
3. Use of Cataloguing: the listing of ideas, concepts, images
4. Use of Anaphora: repetition at the beginning of lines
5. Inclusion of Parallel Structure: use of and repetition of sentence patterns
6. Sensory Imagery: tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory
7. Vernacular Diction: common language, slang, informal
8. Specific Jargon/Diction: word choice that borrows words from anatomy, war, nautical
concepts, and astronomy
9. Persona: a role or character in a poem
10. Cadence: heard when read orally, the rhythmic rise and fall of the voice often in oratory

The following ideas are often the basis of Whitman’s themes:

1. Love of the common man: the workingman or women, the “roughs”
2. Horrors of War: The Civil War, the suffering and futility
3. Love of America: its variety, its diversity, the landscapes
4. Love of city life: especially Manhattan, the teeming streets loud with talking and
5. Love of the sea: its timelessness, its beauty
6. Love of the human body: the beauty, the sensual nature
7. Appreciation of music: especially opera, songs in nature (wind, birds)
8. Appreciation of nature: especially small often insignificant things like ants, blades of
grass, etc.
9. Admiration of President Lincoln
10. Sympathy and empathy for the slaves