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Archetype Examples

An archetype is an ideal example or model after which other things are patterned. It is what is considered a typical example of a thing or person. In literature, there are situation archetypes, setting archetypes, symbolic archetypes and character archetypes.

Situation Archetypes

Here are examples:

  • Battle of Good and Evil – Good ultimately triumphs
  • Death and Rebirth – Shows the circle of life
  • Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity – A character will have intuition and knowledge that is better than those in charge
  • The Initiation – A character matures and takes responsibility
  • The Journey – The hero confronts trials along the way
  • The Magic Weapon – The hero has the ability to use this to be successful in the quest or to prove he or she is the chosen one
  • Nature vs. Mechanistic World – This has nature as being good and technology as bad
  • The Quest – The search for someone or something
  • The Task – Something that must be done

Setting Archetypes

Here are examples:

  • The Garden – Symbolizes love and fertility
  • The Forest – Can be a wild place with dangers and beasts. It can also be a place to reconnect with nature.
  • The River – Water symbolizes life and the river can show life’s journey or boundaries.
  • The Sea – Can be both good and evil, with dangers and treasures. It can also show infinity.
  • The Island – Symbolizes isolation
  • The Mountain – Climbing up can represent a spiritual journey.
  • The Wasteland – A place for cleansing and finding inner strength
  • The Tower – Represents worship or power
  • The Small Town – This is where everyone knows everyone and judges them, so it represents intolerance.

Symbolic Archetypes

Here are examples:

  • Light – Hope or renewal
  • Dark – Despair or ignorance
  • Water – Birth and life
  • Haven – Safety
  • Wilderness – Danger
  • Fire – Knowledge, rebirth
  • Ice – Death, ignorance
  • Black – Evil, mystery
  • Red – Passion, blood
  • Green – The earth, growth
  • White – Purity, peace, innocence
  • Three – Trinity; mind, body, spirit
  • Four – Seasons, elements
  • Square – Stability
  • Circle – Heaven, perfection, eternity
  • Spiral – Cosmic motion, growth
  • Clouds – Mystery
  • Crescent moon – Change
  • Lightning – Inspiration
  • Hourglass – Time passing
  • Heart – Love

Character Archetypes

Here are examples:

  • The Bully – Intimidates others
  • The Creature of Nightmare – Threatens the hero’s life
  • The Damsel in Distress – The hero rescues her
  • The Devil Figure – Tempts the hero
  • Dreamer – Wants to be something else
  • The Evil Genius – Seeks revenge and hates all
  • Friendly Beast – Assists the hero
  • The Hero – Main character who may fulfill a task or bring justice
  • The Initiates – Need training to become heroes
  • Martyr – Willing to die for a cause
  • Mentors – Train and counsel the initiates
  • The Outcast – Exiled for a crime and becomes a wanderer
  • The Star-Crossed Lovers – The pair usually meet tragedy
  • Survivor – Never gives up and always pulls through
  • The Temptress – A beautiful woman who seduces the hero
  • Tyrant – Wants to be in charge
  • Wizard – Has special powers

There are many different kinds of archetypes; but, they all have one thing in common. They are all models after which other things are patterned.



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