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Mythological and Archetypal Approaches

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1 Mythological and Archetypal Approaches

2 I.Definitions and Misconceptions
The myth critics study the so-called archetypes or archetypal patterns. They wish to reveal about the people’s mind and character. Myth is the symbolic projection of the people’s hopes, values, fears, and aspirations. The illustration is Pandora’s Box. According to mythology, Pandora’s Box is the source of all misfortune but also hope.

3 Comparisons between these two approaches
Both mythological criticism and the psychological approach are concerned with the motives that underlie human behavior.

4 Psychology tends to be experimental and diagnostic; it is related to biological science. Mythology tends to be speculative and philosophical; its affinities are with religion, anthropology, and cultural history.

5 II. Examples of Archetypes:
A. Images 1. Water: a. The sea b. Rivers 2. Sun a. Rising sun b. Setting sun 3. Colors Archetypes are universal symbol. This is Ouroboros.

6 4. Circle: wholeness, unity a. Mandala b. Egg (oval) c. Yin-Yang
d. Ouroboros 5. Serpent (snake, worm) 6. Numbers Mandala Yang-yin

7 8. The demon lover (cf. Blake’s “The Sick Rose” and the Jungian animus)
9. Garden 10. Tree 11. Desert 12. Mountain

8 B. Archetypal Motifs or Patterns
Creation: perhaps the most fundamental of all archetypal motifs Immortality (cf. “To His Coy Mistress”) a. Escape from time b. Mystical submersion into cyclical time Andrew Marvell

9 a. The quest (cf. Oedipus) b. Initiation
3. Hero archetypes a. The quest (cf. Oedipus) b. Initiation c. The sacrificial scapegoat (cf. Oedipus and Hamlet) The dueling match in Hamlet is a pattern of sacrifice-atonement-Catharsis Oedipus the Rex

10 C. Archetypes as Genres Northrop Frye, in his Anatomy of Criticism, indicates the correspondent genres for the four seasons: 1. Spring: comedy 2. Summer: romance 3. Fall: tragedy (cf. Hamlet) 4. Winter: irony Louis Bouwmeester ( ) as Oedipus

11 III. Myth Criticism in Practice: A. Anthropology and Its Uses
Sir James G. Frazer, in his monumental The Golden Bough, demonstrates the “essential similarity of mans’ chief wants everywhere and at all times.” Photo from 1990 Main Stage Production of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

12 The central motif with which Frazer deals is the archetype of resurrection, specifically the myths describing the “killing of the divine king.” Corollary to the rite was the scapegoat archetype. The book cover of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

13 1. The Sacrificial Hero: Hamlet
Hamlet was not the playwright’s invention but was drawn from legend. Philip Wheelwright’s The Burning Fountain, explaining the organic source of good and evil, is directly relevant to the moral vision in Hamlet, particularly to the implications of Claudius’s crime and its disastrous consequences.

14 2. Archetypes of Time and Immorality: “To His Coy Mistress”
“To His Coy Mistress” is a poem about time. It is concerned with immorality. The last stanza presents an escape into cynical time and thereby a chance for immorality.

15 B. Jungian Psychology C.G. Jung’s “myth forming” elements are in the unconscious psyche; he refers them as “motifs,” “primordial images,” or “archetypes.” He also detected the relationship between dreams, myths, and art through which archetypes come into consciousness. Carl Gustav Jung is known as one of the foremost psychological thinkers of the 20th century.

16 Individuation: Shadows, Persona, and Anima
Individuation is a psychological growing up, the process of discovering those aspects of one’s self that make one an individual different from other members of the species. Process of individuation: 1. acknowledging that these unconscious tendencies are part of oneself, of one's personality

17 Shadow The shadow is the darker aspects of our unconscious self, the inferior and less pleasing aspects of the personality, which we wish to suppress. (cf. Shakespeare’s Iago, Milton’s Satan, Goethe’s Mephistopheles, and Conrad’s Kurtz) 2. refusing to allow one's personality to be compelled by these tendencies through possession or projection

18 Anima The anima is the “soul-image.” It is the contrasexual part of a man’s psyche, the image of the opposite sex that he carries in both his personal and collective unconscious. (cf. Helen of Troy, Dante’s Beatrice, Milton’s Eve)

19 Persona If the anima is a kind of mediator between the ego and the unconscious, the persona is the mediator between our ego and the external world. It is the actor’s mask that we show to the world.

20 2. “Young Goodman Brown”: a failure of individualization
Just as his persona has proved inadequate in mediating between Brown’s ego and the external world, so his anima fails in relating to his inner world. In clinical terms, young Goodman Brown suffers from a failure of personality integration, because he is unable to confront his shadow, recognize it as a part of his own psyche, and assimilate it into his consciousness.

21 3. Creature or creator: who is the real monster
Speaking archetypally, we may say of Frankenstein, just as we have said of Brown, that he suffers from a failure of individualization. He himself has conjured up and manufactured from his own immature ego. Even in his dying moments Victor insists upon projecting his shadow-image upon the monster, calling him “my adversary” and persisting in the sad delusion that his own past conduct is not “blamable.”

22 D. “Everyday Use”: The Great [Grand]Mother
In the story, the archetypal woman manifests herself as both Good Mother and Earth Mother. The Good Mother is associated with such life-enhancing virtues as warmth, nourishment, growth and protection. Dee, the daughter and antagonist, has broken that tradition.

23 IV. Limitation of Myth Criticism
Back to the beginning of humankind’s oldest rituals and beliefs and deep into our own individual hearts. The work of Jung is based upon culturally specific, Western mythology-so that other cultures might be informed by significantly different mythic structures. The discreet critic will apply such extrinsic perspectives as the mythological and psychological only as far as they enhance the experience of the art form, the structure and potential meaning of the work consistently support such approaches.

24 Related works and links about mythological approaches
Jung, Carl Gustav. Four Archetypes: Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. London: Routledge,1969. ---. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton U P,1980. Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1957. Grazer, James G. The Golden Bough. Abridged ed. New York: Macmillan, 1992. Introduction to Individuation. Personality and Consciousness– Major Archetypes and Individuation. The Individuation Process

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