From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"When all the archetypes burst out shamelessly, we plumb the depths of Homeric profundity. Two cliches make us laugh but a hundred cliches moves us because we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion . . . Just as the extreme of pain meets sensual pleasure, and the extreme of perversion borders on mystical energy, so too the extreme of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the Sublime." -- Umberto Eco, "Casablanca: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage" (1984) from Travels in Hyperreality
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated. Archetypes are often used in myths and storytelling across different cultures.
In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.
In the analysis of personality, the term archetype is often broadly used to refer to:
- A stereotype— a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of such a type.
- An epitome— a personality type exemplified, especially the "greatest" such example.
- A literary term to express details.
Archetype refers to a generic version of a personality. In this sense, "mother figure" may be considered an archetype, and may be identified in various characters with otherwise distinct (non-generic) personalities.
Archetypes are likewise supposed to have been present in folklore and literature for thousands of years, including prehistoric artwork. The use of archetypes to illuminate personality and literature was advanced by Carl Jung early in the 20th century, who suggested the existence of universal contentless forms that channel experiences and emotions, resulting in recognizable and typical patterns of behavior with certain probable outcomes. Archetypes are cited as important to both ancient mythology and modern narratives.
First attested in English in 1540s, the word archetype derives from the Latin noun archetypum, the latinisation of the Greek noun ἀρχέτυπον (archetupon) and adjective ἀρχέτυπος (archetupos), meaning "first-moulded", which is a compound of ἀρχή (archē,) "beginning, origin" + τύπος (tupos), amongst others "pattern, model, type".
Pronunciation note: The "ch" in archetype is a transliteration of the Greek chi (χ) and is most commonly articulated in English as a "k".
The origins of the archetypal hypothesis date back as far as Plato. Jung himself compared archetypes to Platonic ideas. Plato's ideas were pure mental forms, that were imprinted in the soul before it was born into the world. They were collective in the sense that they embodied the fundamental characteristics of a thing rather than its specific peculiarities.
The concept of psychological archetypes was advanced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, c. 1919. In Jung's psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex ( e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype). Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological constructs that arose through evolution.
Jung outlined five main archetypes:
- The Self, the regulating center of the psyche and facilitator of individuation,
- The Shadow, the opposite of the ego image, often containing qualities with which the ego does not identify, but which it possesses nonetheless,
- The Anima, the feminine image in a man's psyche, or
- The Animus, the masculine image in a woman's psyche,
- The Persona, the image we present to the world, usually protecting the Ego from negative images (like a mask), and considered another of 'the subpersonalities, the complexes'.
Although archetypes can take on innumerable forms, there are a few particularly notable, recurring archetypal images:
- The Child
- The Hero
- The Great Mother
- The Wise old man or Sage
- The Wise Old Woman/Man, archetypes of the collective unconscious
- The Damsel in distress
- The Trickster or Fox
- The Devil or Satan
- The Scarecrow
- The Mentor
Jung also outlined what he called archetypes of transformation, which are situations, places, ways, and means that symbolize the transformation in question. These archetypes exist primarily as energy and are useful in organizational development, personal and organizational change management, and extensively used in place branding.
Clifford Mayes (born July 15, 1953), professor in the Brigham Young University McKay School of Education, has developed what he has termed archetypal pedagogy. Mayes' work also aims at promoting what he calls archetypal reflectivity in teachers; this is a means of encouraging teachers to examine and work with psychodynamic issues, images, and assumptions, as those factors affect their pedagogical practices. Archetypal reflectivity, which draws not only upon Jungian psychology but transpersonal psychology, generally offers an avenue for teachers to probe the spiritual dimensions of teaching and learning in non-dogmatic terms.
In the USA, Mayes' two most recent works, Inside Education: Depth Psychology in Teaching and Learning (2007) and The Archetypal Hero's Journey in Teaching and Learning: A Study in Jungian Pedagogy (2008), incorporate the psychoanalytic theories of Heinz Kohut (particularly Kohut's notion of the selfobject) and the object relations theory of Ronald Fairbairn and D.W. Winnicott. Some of Mayes' work in curriculum theory, especially Seven Curricular Landscapes: An Approach to the Holistic Curriculum (2003) and Understanding the Whole Student: Holistic Multicultural Education (2007), is concerned with holistic education.
In literature and art
William Butler Yeats completed an automatic writing with his wife (Georgie) Hyde-Lees. Their book, A Vision, contains an interesting mapping and list of 28 archetypes by these characters' will and fate. Tarot cards depict a system of archetypes used for divination of a persons' fate or story. Template:Citation needed In the Noh plays of Japan, the characters are skillfully depicted with exaggerated expressions and elaborate costumes to clearly portray a system of archetypes.
William Shakespeare is responsible for popularizing several archetypal characters. Falstaff, the bawdy rotund comic knight; Romeo and Juliet, the ill-fated ("star-crossed") lovers; Richard II, the hero who dies with honor; and many others. Although Shakespeare based many of his characters on existing archetypes from fables and myths (e.g., Romeo and Juliet on Arthur Brooke's Romeus and Juliet), Shakespeare's characters stand out as original by their contrast against a complex social literary landscape. For instance, in The Tempest, Shakespeare borrowed from a manuscript by William Strachey that detailed an actual shipwreck of the Virginia-bound 17th-century English sailing vessel Sea Venture in 1609 on the islands of Bermuda. Shakespeare also borrowed heavily from a speech by Medea in Ovid's Metamorphoses in writing Prospero's renunciative speech; nevertheless, the combination of these elements in the character of Prospero created a new interpretation of the sage magician as that of a carefully plotting hero, quite distinct from the wizard-as-advisor archetype of Merlin or Gandalf. Both of these are likely derived from priesthood authority archetypes, such as Celtic Druids, or perhaps Biblical figures like Abraham, Moses, etc.; or in the case of Gandalf, the Norse figure Odin.
Certain common methods of character depiction employed in dramatic performance rely on the pre-existence of literary archetypes. Stock characters used in theatre or film are based on highly generic literary archetypes. A pastiche is an imitation of an archetype or prototype in order to pay homage to the original creator.
Sheri Tepper's novel Plague of Angels contains archetypical villages, essentially human zoos where a wide variety of archetypal people are kept, including heroes, orphans, oracles, ingénues, bastards, young lovers, poets, princesses, martyrs, and fools.
Similarly, the song "Atlantis" by the folk singer Donovan mentions twelve archetypal characters leaving the sinking Atlantis and spreading to the far corners of the world to bring civilization, though only five of the twelve are mentioned in the song:
<poem>Knowing her fate, Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth. On board were the Twelve: The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist, the magician, And the other so-called Gods of our legends, Though Gods they were.</poem>
The superhero genre is also frequently cited as emblematic of archetypal literature.
The young, flawed, and brooding antihero Spider-Man became the most widely imitated archetype in the superhero genre since the appearance of Superman.
—Bradford W. Wright, Comic Book Nation: The transformation of Youth Culture in America 212
—Superman on the Couch by Danny Fingeroth 151
- Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism
- Character (arts)
- Mental model
- Ostensive definition
- Perennial philosophy
- Theory of Forms
- Wounded healer