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Carl Jung • Born July 26, 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland. Died June 6, 1961 in Zurich, Switzerland. • A prominent Swiss psychiatrist, and influential thinker and founder of analytical psychology.
Jung’s investigations into the human mind brought forth two ideas especially important and influential for literary criticism: • Collective unconscious • The theory of the archetype
Collective Unconscious • Jung agreed with Freud on the idea that everyone has a personal unconscious from which our motivations derive, however, Jung developed this theory further to suggest that one aspect of an individual’s psyche is identical to all other members of the same species. • Therefore a part of all minds go beyond personal experience and draw upon a common source.
Collective Unconscious • For Jung, the experiences of the individual are conditioned by the experiences of the human race (all who have gone before). The unconscious mental record of these experiences, Jung called the collective unconscious. • Jung believed that the collective unconscious is not directly knowable but that it expresses itself in the form of an archetype.
Archetype • According to Jung an archetype is “a figure…that repeats itself in the course of history whenever creative fantasy is fully manifested.” • The three fundamental qualities of an archetype are: • An archetype is a preconscious, instinctual expression of man’s basic nature. • An archetype is universal; it is generated by man’s psyche regardless of time of place. • An archetype is recurrent. From prehistoric times until the end of the earth, it expresses man’s reaction to essentially changeless situations.
Putting Jung’s Theory to the Test Archetypes are preconscious, instinctual expressions of man’s basic nature. • Biologists have never been able to explain the nesting of birds, the ritual dance of bees, the spinning instinct of spiders, and the migratory habits of certain birds. Never have they observed these actions being acquired but rather them seemed to have derived from the remotest beginnings of the species.
Putting Jung’s Theory to the Test Archetypes are universal. • The Ancient Mayans, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians are just a few of the earliest religions from across the globe who have all tried to understand their own existence and have subsequently introduced their explanations into holy books. • Anthropologists constantly discover stories of destruction of the world by flood, famine, plague, or earth quake as well as stories of the slaying of monsters.
Putting Jung’s Theory to the Test Archetypes are recurrent. • One reason why audiences applaud such characters as Othello and Macbeth is because they possess some eternal quality, some enduring feature of the human race. For these two characters, jealousy and greed got the best of them. This is an experience all humans can relate to at one point in their lives or another.
The number of possible archetypes is as unlimited as man’s experiences, however, they may be grouped in three major categories: • Characters • Situations • Symbols or associations