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Archetypal theory. Advanced English 9. Archetypal Theory. text and reader act as a team: the deepest level of meaning comes from the recognition of repeated characters, settings, conflicts, or even colors with which the reader will already be familiar.

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archetypal theory

Archetypal theory

Advanced English 9

archetypal theory1
Archetypal Theory
  • text and reader act as a team: the deepest level of meaning comes from the recognition of repeated characters, settings, conflicts, or even colors with which the reader will already be familiar.
  • Archetypal characters: Young Hero from the Countryside, Fairy Godmother, Friendly Beast, The Star-Crossed Lovers, The Scapegoat, The Outcast, The Temptress
  • Archetypal settings: River (source of life), Forest (natural danger), Island (isolation)
  • Archetypal colors: Black (evil), White (good), Red (passion)
basis for archetypal theory
Basis for Archetypal Theory


  • “total dream of mankind” from a “collective unconsciousness” according to psychologist Carl Jung
  • Based upon what society views as important and the standards of a particular culture
  • Viewed as “true”
  • Interconnected (Ex. Greek mythology)
four general principles of archetypal theory
Four general principles of archetypal theory

1. Creating myths is inherent in our thinking process

2. Myth creates a matrix from which literature emerges historically and psychologically

3. Myth provides the critic (you) with concepts and patterns for interpretation (cough annotations cough cough)

4. Mythic quality of literature is part of what moves us deeply (Compelling nature or storytelling)

how do we get archetypes in the first place
How do we get archetypes in the first place?
  • Mythologically conditioned to the pervasiveness of repeated characters, settings and plot
  • A method of coping with the reality of a capricious world, of which man is only one small part (an attempt to reconcile some understanding of the world)
  • Emerge from the concept and human desire for community (UNIVERSALITY=RELATABILITY)
joseph campbell
Joseph Campbell
  • 1949: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  • Focused on global comparative mythology
  • Proposed the theory that all important myths from around the world share a fundamental structure
  • Campbell’s Primary Examples:
      • Buddha
      • Moses
      • Osiris
      • Prometheus
realm of the monomyth
Realm of the monomyth

Physical vs. Physical World

  • Physical: hero locates real difficulties, faces them, and eradicates them (Luke tries to defeat Darth Vader)
  • Physical World: outlying, worldly dreams (Luke also aspires to defeat the Empire for the sake of intergalactic peace)
3 stages
3 Stages

1. Departure

2. Initiation

3. Return

stage 1 departure
Stage 1: Departure

Call to Adventure

  • Becomes aware of the world beyond his/her home
  • Journey usually initiated by a herald who then acts as a guide/mentor
stage 1 departure1
Stage 1: Departure

Refusal of the Call

  • Usually the hero will refuse the initial call to adventure often from fear of change
  • The hero only ends up going on the journey after being compelled by a supernatural force or by an event that obliges the hero to answer the call
stage 1 departure2
Stage 1: Departure

Supernatural Aid

  • The hero often receives some sort of special help in the form of a magic weapon, magical powers, or useful knowledge that will help on the journey
  • Help is sometimes given by an old man or woman, god or goddess, or a messenger or prophet who the hero meets at the beginning of the journey
stage 1 departure3
Stage 1: Departure

Crossing the First Threshold

  • This is what separates the hero from the comforts of home
  • Sometimes the threshold is guarded by a gatekeeper who the hero must also defeat
stage 1 departure4
Stage 1: Departure

Belly of the Whale

  • As the hero crosses the threshold, he finds himself alone in the darkness of a new world
  • This stage may involve a true challenge of character or temptation, but the hero generally rises out of “the belly of the whale” as a new person
stage 2 initiation
Stage 2: IniTIATION
  • Road of Trials
  • Meeting with the Goddess
  • Woman as the Temptress/ Temptation from the True Path
  • Atonement with the Father
  • Apotheosis (the ultimate climax)
  • The Ultimate Boon
stage 3 return
Stage 3: Return
  • Refusal of the Return
  • The Magic Flight
  • Rescue from Without
  • Crossing of the Return Threshold
  • Master of Two Worlds
  • Freedom to Live