People who had no contact with each
other formed myths to explain natural phenomena such as great floods
and the creation of the world as well as to answer questions as to why
we die and why we are born. The fantasy images of the primitive mind
are so alike for all cultures that Jung calls them the Collective
Unconscious. They remain part of every human unconscious mind as dreams
of fantasy and fear; living, psychic forces which demand to be taken
seriously. Jung believes that we can never legitimately be cut loose
from our archetypal foundations or we will become suicidal.
- They are not individual, but we share them with humanity.
- They are an inherited part of being human which connects us to past and we experience a common source.
- They are not directly knowable, but instead express themselves in forms (situations, symbols, and characters)
- They grow out of mans social, psychological, and biological being.
- They are universal. From gladiators to astronauts, they are the same.
- They cannot be explained by interaction among cultures because geography and history made it impossible.
- They are recurrent, appearing in slightly altered in present day
situations and relate them to the past in order to get the meaning in
the contemporary world.
- Original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations.
- A perfect example
- An inherited mode of thought that is defined from experience of the race and is present in unconscious minds.
- Recurring patterns of situation, character, or symbol existing universally and instinctively in the collective unconscious.
- Quest the search for someone or some tailsman (object) which when found or brought back will restore fertility to a wasted land.
- Task to save the kingdom, to win the fair lady, or
to prove ones rightful position, the hero must perform some nearly
superhuman deed. This also restores fertility to a wasted land.
- The Initiation usually takes the form of an initiation into adult life RITE of passage
- A) The Journey a hero/heroine goes in search of truth or
information necessary to restore fertility to the kingdom; usually
he/she descends into a real or psychological hell to discover the
blackest truths concerning his/her faults.
- B) Journey Variation a group
finds themselves together on a voyage or in an isolated situation. Each
member of the group will represent a level of society. As a microcosm
of society, the group will descend into a real or psychological hell to
discover the blackest truths concerning a society or culture.
- The Fall a descent from a high to low state of
being which involves a defilement or loss of innocence; often
characters are expelled from a kind of paradise as a penalty.
- Death and Rebirth a common archetype which draws
parallels between the cycle of nature and cycle of life. Morning and
spring are birth, while winter and evening is death.
- Nature Vs. Mechanistic World that which is natural,
or part of the natural order is good. Technology which separates people
from nature, or the natural world, is bad.
- Battle Between Good and Evil A battle between two
primal forces. The future or the very existence of the kingdom is often
at stake. Good triumphs over evil despite great odds, but often a
terrible sacrifice by the hero/heroine or by the kingdom as a whole
must be made to insure victory.
- Unhealable Wound this wound is either real or
psychological and cannot be healed fully. The wound often indicates a
loss of innocence. The unhealable wound often aches, especially in the
presence of what caused the wound, and drives the sufferer to desperate
- The Ritual actual ceremonies that marks the rite of
passage into another state or level of society. This rite is a signpost
for a characters role in society (a princess becomes a queen, a squire
becomes a knight, a seminary student becomes a priest).
- The Magic Weapon weapon symbolizes the
extraordinary quality of the hero or heroine because no one else can
use or wield the weapon. It is given by a mentor figure.
- Light Vs. Darkness light suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination; darkness implies the unknown, ignorance, or despair.
- Water Vs. Desert water is a symbol of birth, rebirth,
or cleansing. A desert is seen as the opposite, or a place of exile.
Often the desert is represented by an absence of the expected: lack of
wind or waves on the ocean, lack of rain when there is usually rain,
absence of game to hunt in the wilderness, etc.
- Heaven Vs. Hell The Skies and mountain tops house the gods; the bowels of the earth of pits hide evil forces.
- Innate Wisdom Vs. Educated
Stupidity Instinctive wisdom vs. book learned ignorance is
emphasized. The hero/heroine cannot achieve their goal until he/she
learns a hard lesson of life or becomes street-wise.
- Haven Vs. Wilderness places of safety contrast against dangerous wilderness.
- Supernatural Intervention
gods intervene on the side of the hero/heroine or act against the
protagonist to provide obstacles in accomplishing his/her task.
- Fire Vs. Ice fire represents knowledge, light, life, rebirth; ice represents ignorance, darkness, sterility, and death.
- Hero/Heroine some or all of the following criteria are present in the life of the hero or heroine:
- Mother is a virgin or at least pure of heart and spirit.
- An attempt is made to kill the pregnant mother or kill the child at an early age.
- He/she is reared by foster parents.
- (Male) after proving himself (usually defeating a
wild beast) marries a princess, becomes king, knight, or warrior of the
realm or village. (Female) possess unusual skills (often supernatural
gifts) and takes on a special role in the kingdom or positions usually
occupied by men in that society (spiritual leader, warrior, judge, etc.)
- Falls from favor with the gods.
- Becomes an outcast.
- Upon death, body is not buried.
- Young one from provinces
this hero/heroine is spirited away and raised by strangers. Later
returns to his/her home as a stranger with new solutions to kingdoms
- The Initiates The hero or heroine, who prior to
their quest, must endure some training or ceremony. Initiates are
usually innocent and wear white.
- Mentor pupil relationship Mentors serve as teachers
or counselors to initiates. The mentor acts as a role model for the
protagonist, and can function as father and mother figures to initiate
as well. The mentor teaches by example the skills necessary to survive
- Parent-Child conflict tension of ten results from
separation during childhood, from an external source when the
individuals meet as adults, or where the mentor often has a higher
place in the affections of the hero/heroine than the natural parent.
- Hunting group of companions this band of loyal companions willing to face any number of perils in order to be together or achieve a common goal.
- Loyal retainers often called side-kicks, these
individuals are somewhat like servants who are heroic themselves. Their
duty is to protect the hero/heroine and reflect his/her nobility.
- Friendly Beast These creatures aid or serve the hero/heroine and symbolize how nature is on the side of the hero/heroine.
- The Devil Figure this character is evil incarnate
who offers worldly goods, fame or knowledge to the protagonist in
exchange for possession of the soul.
- Devil Figure with Ultimately Good Heart devil figure who is saved by the nobility or love of the hero.
- The scapegoat human or animal whose death in a
public ceremony cleans the sin or evil that has visited upon a
community. The death of the scapegoat often makes him/her more powerful
than in life.
- The Outcast a figure who is banished from a social
group for some crime (real or imagined) against society. The outcast
usually wanders from place to place.
- Creature of nightmare a monster summoned from the
darkest part of the human psyche to threaten the lives of the
her/heroine other is a perversion of the human body.
- The woman figure Archetypally, male characters
generally play one role at a time: the warrior, the holy man, the
villain, etc. Women play very special roles in society, or they can
play more than one archetypal role at a time. The following are a list
of the most common female archetypes:
symbolic of spiritual and emotional nourishment, she is often
depicted in earth colors. She is usually depicted as having large
breasts and hips representing childbearing capability.
- The temptress sensuous in beauty, this woman brings about the downfall of the hero by tempting him to turn away from his goal.
- The platonic ideal this is an inspiring woman for whom the protagonist has an intellectual rather than physical attraction.
- The unfaithful wife a married woman who finds her
husband dull or unattractive seeks a more virile or interesting man.
Archetypally, the woman is the center of the family and is responsible
for keeping it together. While the role of the father/husband (as
provider and protector) can be easily replaced, the absence of the
wife/mother (as nurturer and teacher) throws a family into a different
kind of chaos than the loss of the male.
- The Damsel in distress The vulnerable woman must be
rescued by the hero. She is often a trap by the devil figure or the
temptress to ensure the unsuspecting hero.
- The Star Crossed Lovers this is a love affair fated
to end tragically because it receives the disapproval of the society,
friends, and/or family. Other times, it is a situation which separates
the lovers such as a war, their respective positions in society, where
they live, or untimely death.
actual people take on archetypal roles for a society. These historical
figures are called Icons. They become "bigger-than-life" and are known
more for what they represent to our society than who they are as
- John Wayne, Michael Jordan, Colin Powel (heroes),
- Amelia Eathart, Diane Fossey, Captain Karen Walden,
Sally Ride, Carrie Strugg (and the rest of the 96 Olympic Gymnastic
- James Dean, River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain (outcast)
- Martin Luther King, jr. Ryan White (scapegoats)
- Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein (Devil Figures)
- Mother Theresa (platonic ideal)
- Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford (temptress)