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Archetypes and Archetypal Settings in World Literature

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1 Archetypes and Archetypal Settings in World Literature
The Flood Archetypes and Archetypal Settings in World Literature

2 What is an archetype and why should I care about them?
Archetypes are common symbols or figures that appear in literature. These are often independent of culture (all nations have them) and they may stem from a common psychological construction or need. Archetypes appear consciously or unconsciously in many writer’s works.

3 Archetypes ar·che·type –noun
1. the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype. 2. (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.

4 Carl Jung ( ) Literary Critics (such as Joseph Campbell) have based their observations of literature, in part, on the research and theories of the psychologist Carl Jung. Jung was a contemporary of “the father of modern psychology”: Sigmund Freud. Jung believed in a “collective unconscious” that all people share, where common images, symbols or “archetypes” appear in our literature, rituals and dreams.

5 What is an archetype? An archetype is a term used to describe universal symbols that evoke deep and sometimes unconscious responses in a reader In literature, characters, images, and themes that symbolically embody universal meanings and basic human experiences, regardless of when or where they live, are considered archetypes. Common literary archetypes include stories of quests, initiations, scapegoats, descents to the underworld, and ascents to heaven.

6 Archetypes in Literature
Archetypes in literature were extensively researched and analyzed Joseph Campbell, a now famous literary scholar.

7 Archetypes in Literature
Joseph Campbell wrote a literary analysis entitled “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Along with his other books, he examined common cultural archetypes.

8 Joseph Campbell ( ) Campbell saw a close symbolic and psychological connection Native American myths and Arthurian legends of Great Britain. He believed that these patterns existed in all literature, particularly mythology and folklore.

9 Common Character Archetypes
The Hero: The courageous figure, the one who’s always running in and saving the day. The Outcast: The outcast is just that. He or she has been cast out of a society or has left it on a voluntary basis. The outcast figure can oftentimes be considered as a Christ figure. (i.e. Simon in The Lord of the Flies) The Scapegoat: The scapegoat figure is one who gets blamed for everything, regardless of whether he/she is actually at fault. (i.e. Snowball in Animal Farm) The Star-Crossed Lovers: This is the young couple joined by love but unexpectedly parted by fate. (i.e. Romeo and Juliet) The Shrew: This is that nagging, bothersome wife always battering her husband with verbal abuse.

10 The Hero’s Journey For example, the “Hero’s Journey” is a common archetype like that of “the great flood” that examines the basic, cross-cultural actions, symbols and motifs associated with hero myths such as “Beowulf” or “Gilgamesh”.

11 Situational Archetypes
The Task: A situation in which a character, or group of characters, is driven to complete some duty often of monstrous proportion. (i.e. Frodo’s task to keep the ring safe in The Lord of the Rings) The Quest: Here, the character(s) are searching for something, whether consciously or unconsciously. Their actions, thoughts, and feelings center around the goal of completing the quest. (i.e. Shrek ) The Loss of Innocence: This is, as the name implies, a loss of innocence through sexual experience, violence, or any other means. The Initiation: This is the process by which a character is brought into another sphere of influence, usually (in literature) into adulthood – a rite of passage.

12 Common Image Archetypes
Certain images that recur in myths and other genres of literature often have a common meaning or tend to elicit comparable psychological responses and to serve similar cultural functions. Water Sun Colors Shapes, Numbers, & Other objects

13 Water a symbol of life, cleansing, and rebirth—represents the mystery of creation Examples: Sea—spiritual mystery and infinity; timelessness and eternity River—death / rebirth (baptism), flowing of time into eternity, transitional phases of the life cycle

14 Sun Represents energy, creativity, thinking, enlightenment, wisdom, spiritual vision, the passing of time, and life Examples: Rising Sun—Birth and Creation Setting Sun—Death

15 Shapes Circle (Sphere)—wholeness, unity
Egg (Oval)—the mystery of life and the forces of regeneration

16 Animals Snake (serpent, worm)—evil, corruption, sensuality, destruction, wisdom, temptation Dark-colored bird (raven, hawk)—death, hate, corruption Light-colored bird (dove)—peace, love, life

17 Colors Red—love, sacrifice, hate, evil, anger, violent passion, sin, blood, disorder Green—birth / death, fertility, luck, hope, jealousy, decay, greed Blue—sadness, spiritual purity, truth, religious feelings of security Black—power, doom, death, darkness, mystery, primal wisdom, unconscious evil White—purity, innocence, death, terror, supernatural, blinding truth

18 Numbers Three (3)—represents unity, spiritual awareness, and light
Four (4)—cycle of life, (earth, water, fire, air) nature Seven (7)—unity between 3 and 4, completion and perfect order

19 Archetypal Settings “An Archetypal Setting is a time, place or landscape feature that has similar significance for different peoples and therefore connects to powerful, univesal human experiences.” (Literature:Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes)

20 Archetypal Settings Some examples of archetypal settings include:
A paradise like the Garden of Eden. A universe of opposites A circle that signifies completion A great tree that connects the realms of heaven and earth A river that separates the living and the dead A great flood that tests mankind The creation of man by a divine being

21 Archetypal Settings from The Old Testament
There are several archetypal settings that are drawn from the Old Testament of the Bible – the basis for at least three major religions. These archetypes include settings and situations such as Eden, Hell and The Great Flood

22 Eden (Paradise Lost) The Garden of Eden is described as an earthly paradise in the Book of Genesis

23 Eden (Paradise Lost) The locale of the brief life of innocence and grace of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman before Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted them to taste the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, causing their fall into sin. This moment is referred to as “The Original Sin”.

24 Eden (Pardise Lost) After they ate of this fruit, they were banished from the garden of paradise to a land “east of Eden” Image from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel

25 Eden (Paradise Lost) Today the term signifies any blissful and perfectly innocent place or state of being.

26 A Few Literary Works That Reference Eden
Hamlet by William Shakespeare Paradise Lost by John Milton East of Eden by John Steinbeck Lord of the Flies by William Golding

27 Hell As an archetypal setting, Hell represents a place where evil doers are punished in the afterlife for all eternity.

28 Hell The name may have its origins in the Norse (Viking) goddess Hel, who was the goddess of the underworld like the Greek Hades

29 Hell This archetypal setting appears in Greek mythology as Hades (the place, not the god)

30 Hell In the Greek vision of the afterlife, the good were sent to the Elysian Fields, while the wicked were sent to Tartarus (the equivalent of Judeo-Christian Hell).

31 Hell In Tartarus, punishment was repetition.
For example, Sisyphus had to roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to have it roll down again and again

32 Hell In Judeo-Christian tradition, Hell is the domain of The Devil (or “Satan” or “Lucifer”) who creates suffering for all mankind when they submit to temptation.

33 Hell The Hebrew name Satan actually means adversary, as does the Greek word “diabolos” from which we get “Devil” In the earlier writings of the Hebrew Bible Satan is less an individual character than a symbol of the adversarial position occupied by both humans and angels.

34 Hell As an archetypal setting, Hell is a place of suffering or punishment. Notably, the poet Dante maps the levels of Hell in his narrative poem, “The Inferno”. As he descends into hell, each level is reserved for the punishment of different types of sins.

35 Hell Dante’s levels of Hell

36 The Flood In addition to the archetypal settings of Eden and Hell, many cultures have myths or stories that discuss a great flood.

37 The Flood The flood is often a test for mankind and it represents a great cleansing or rebirth for man. Often a heroic figure is responsible for ensuring the rebirth or symbolizes a change in the nature of mankind.

38 The Epic of Gilgamesh Immortality is a quest that possesses Gilgamesh in The Epic of Gilgamesh and he seeks out the immortal man; Utnapishtim, who was granted immortality after surviving a great flood.

39 The Flood In the Greek myth of Deucalion, Zeus is angry with disrespectful Greeks, so he sends a great flood to punish them. Only Deucalion and his wife; Pyrrha survive to recreate the human race by building an ark (a large ship) to survive the flood.

40 The Flood In Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the story of Noah tells of the preservation of mankind in an ark after a Great Flood that inundates the world after 40 days and 40 nights of rain.

41 The Flood The flood is punishment for mankind’s wickedness, but God allows Noah’s family to live, along with a male and female member of every animal on earth.

42 The Flood After searching for weeks for a sign of land, Noah sends out a dove that returns with a single olive branch, indicating that land is close at hand.

43 The Flood Once landfall is made, God sends a rainbow as a symbol of a promise (“covenant”) to never drown the earth again for man’s misdeeds.

44 The Flood The origin of the flood archetype is unclear, but it can be found in the literature of many cultures.

45 The Flood Some possible explanations for this flood archetype include:
There actually was a cataclysmic flood that affected much of the world at the time. Floods could be devastating to agricultural communities, so they leave a lasting impression. Unconsciously, floods are a powerful symbol of mankind’s weakness before the power of nature. Perhaps fossils of shells, often found on mountaintops due to plate uplift, convinced ancient people that a great flood must have occurred.

46 The Flood Ultimately, the archetype of the flood is an archetype commonly alluded to in literature either for conscious or unconscious reasons and often symbolizes a fresh start for mankind after a devastating loss.

47 References Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall "archetype." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 17 Sep < “Literary Archetypes” Shore Regional High School. Sep <

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