AP Lit Archetypes: Situational, Symbolic, and Character
Terms in this set (48)
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 nearly superhuman feat(s) the Hero must perform in order to accomplish his quest.
The journey sends the Hero in search of some truth that will help save his kingdom.
The adolescent comes into his maturity with new awareness and problems.
The actual ceremonies the Initiate experiences that will mark his rite of passage into another state. A clear sign of the character's role in his society.
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.
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.
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.
Gateway to a new world which the hero must enter to change and grow.
A place of death or metaphorically an encounter with the dark side of the self. Entering an underworld is a form or 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, etc. 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 mountaintops house his gods, the bowels of the earth contain diabolic forces.
A place or time of decision when a realization is made and change or penance results.
A puzzling dilemma or great uncertainty, search for the dangerous monster inside of oneself, or a journey into the heart of darkness.
A strong place of safety which holds treasure or princess, may be enchanted or bewitched.
A strong place of evil, represents the isolation of self.
The Magic Weapon
The weapon the hero needs in order to complete his quest.
Symbolizes the destructive power of nature of fate.
-Negatives: death, horror, supernatural
unity (holy trinity)
associated with the circle
the most potent of all symbolic numbers signifying union of 3 and 4
the completion of a cycle
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. He will have to leave his kingdom, only to return to it upon reaching manhood. Characterized by courage, strength, and honor, this character archetype will endure hardship, even risk his life for the good of all. Leaves the familiar to enter an unfamiliar and challenging world.
Young Man from the Provinces
The Hero returns to his home and his heritage where he is a stranger who can see new problems and new solutions
young heroes or heroines who must go through some training and ceremony before undertaking their quest
older, wiser teacher to the initiates. He often serves as a father or mother figure. He gives the heroes gifts (weapons, food, magic, information), serves as a role model or as hero's conscience.
In this relationship, the mentor teaches the hero/pupil the necessary skills for surviving the quest
The Threshold Guardian
tests the hero's courage and worthiness to begin the journey
In this relationship, the tension is built due to separation from childhood or some other source when the two meet as men
Hunting Group of Companions
loyal companions willing to face hardship and ordeal in order to stay together
duty is to reflect the nobility and power of the hero
an animal companion showing that nature is on the side of the hero
A worthy opponent with whom the hero must struggle in a fight to the end. Must be destroyed or neutralized. Psychologically can represent the darker side of the hero's own psyche.
The Devil Figure
This character is evil incarnate.
The Evil Figure with Ultimately Good Heart
a devil figure with the potential to be good; usually saved by the love of the hero.