51 terms

Character Archetypes


Terms in this set (...)

The Hero*
The hero is a protagonist whose life is a series of well-marked adventures. The circumstances of his birth are unusual, and he is raised by a guardian. Leaves his kingdom. Has courage, strength, and honor.
Young Man from the Provinces
The Hero returns to his home and heritage where he is a stranger who can see new problems and new solutions.
The Initiates
young heroes who prior to thier quest must endure some training or ceremony
a wise and trusted counselor or teacher
Mentor-Pupil Relationship
the mentor teaches the hero necessary skills for surviving the quest
The Threshold Guardian
tests the hero's courage and worthiness to begin the journey
Father-Son Conflict
Tension is built due to separation from childhood after they met as men
Hunting Group of Companions*
Loyal companions willing to face hardship and ordeal in order to stay together
Loyal retainers
Retainers duty is to reflect the nobility and power of the hero
Friendly Beast
Animal companion showing that nature is on the side of the hero
The Shadow*
A worthy opponent with whom the hero must struggle in a fight to the end. Must be destroyed.
The Devil Figure*
The character is evil incarnate
The Evil figure with a good heart
A devil with the potential to be good. This person is usually saved by the love of the hero
The temptress or Black Goddess
Characterizes by sensuous beauty. She usually brings the protagonist down. Witch or a vampire
White Goddess
Good, blond, beautiful maiden.
The unfaithful wife
A woman married to a man she sees as dull or distant and is attracted to more virile, interesting men.
Star-Crossed Lovers
Two characters engaged in a love affair fated to end tragically for one or both due to disapproval of society, friends, family or some tragic situation
The Creature of Nightmare
A monster usually summoned from the deepest, darkest part of the human psyche to threaten the lives of the hero/heroine. Often it is a perversion or desecration of the human body.
The Scapegoat
An animal, or more usually a human, whose death in a public ceremony expiates some taint or sin of a community. They are often more powerful in death than in life
The Outcast
A character banished from a social group for some real or imagined crime against his fellow man, usually destined to wander from place to place.
The Platonic ideal
A woman who is a source of inspiration to the hero, who has an intellectual rather than physical attraction to her.
Damsel in Distress
A vulnerable woman who needs to be rescued by the hero. She is often used as a trap to ensnare the unsuspecting hero
The Earth Mother
Symbolic of fruition, abundance, and fertility, this character offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to those with whom she comes in contact
Light vs Darkness
Light usually suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination; darkness implies the unknown, ignorance, or despair
Innate Wisdom vs Educated Stupidity
Some Characters exhibit wisdom and understanding of situations instinctively as opposed to those supposedly in charge. Loyal retainers often exhibit this wisdom as they accompany the hero on the journey
Supernatural Intervention
Spiritual beings intervene on the side of the hero or sometimes against him
Fire and Ice
Fire represents knowledge, light , life and rebirth, while ice like the desert, represents ignorance, darkness, sterility, and death
Nature vs Mechanistic World
Nature is good while technology is evil
The threshold
Gateway to a new world which the hero must enter to change and grow
The Underworld
A Place of death or metaphorically an encounter with the dark side of the self. Entering an underworld is a form of facing a fear of death
Haven vs Wilderness
places of safety contrast sharply against a dangerous wilderness. heroes are often sheltered for a time to regain health and resources
Water vs Desert
because water is necessary to life and growth, it commonly appears as a birth symbol, as baptism symbolizes a spiritual birth. rain, rivers, oceans, ect. also function the same way. the desert suggests the opposite.
Heaven vs Hell
man has traditionally associated parts of the universe not accessible to him with the dwelling places of the primordial forces that govern his world. the skies and the mountaintops house his gods, the bowels of the earth contain diabolic forces.
The Crossroads
a place or time of decision when a realization is made and change or penance results
The Maze
a puzzling dilemma or great uncertainty, search for the dangerous monster inside of oneself, or a journey into the heart of darkness
The Castle
a strong place of safety which holds treasure or princess, may be enchanted or bewitched
The Tower
a strong place of evil, represents the isolation of self
The Magic Weapon
the weapon the hero needs in order to complete his quest
The Whirlpool
symbolizes the destructive power of nature or fate
Symbolizes uncertainty
red: blood, sacrifice, passion, disorder
green: growth, hope, fertility
blue: highly positive, security, tranquility, spiritual purity
black: darkness, chaos, mystery, the unknown, death, wisdom, evil, melancholy
white: light, purity, innocence, timelessness (negatives: death, horror, supernatural)
yellow: enlightenment, wisdom
3- light, spiritual awareness, unity, male principle
4- associated with the circle, life cycle, four seasons, female principle, earth, nature, elements
7- the most potent of all symbolic numbers signifying the union of three and four, the completion of a cycle, perfect order, perfect number, religious symbol
The Quest
what the hero must accomplish in order to bring fertility back to the wasteland, usually a search for some talisman, which will restore peace, order, and normalcy to a troubled land
The Task
the nearly superhuman feat the hero must perform in order to accomplish his quest
The Journey
the journey sends the hero in search of some truth that will help save his kingdom
The Initiation
the adolescent comes into his maturity with new awareness and problems
The Ritual
the actual ceremonies that initiate experiences that will mark his rite of passage into another state. a clear sign of the character's role in his society
The Fall
the descent from a higher to a lower state of being usually as a punishment for transgression. it also involves the loss of innocence
Death and Rebirth
the most common of all situational archetypes, this motif grows out of a parallel between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. thus morning and springtime represent birth, youth, or rebirth while evening and winter suggest old age or death
Battle between Good and Evil
obviously, a battle between two primal forces. mankind shows eternal optimism in the continual portrayal of good triumphing over evil despite great odds
The Unhealable Wound
either a physical or psychological wound that cannot be fully healed. the wound symbolizes a loss of innocence