What does it mean to be a Hero? Archetypes in Literature What is an epic and an archetype? Epic: An extended narrative poem in elevated (fancy) language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero. Archetype: Patterns that commonly appear in stories no matter what culture they come from. Archetypes can apply to plots of a story, characters in a story, and themes of a story.
Character Archetypes: Patterns depicted in characters of stories 1. The Hero: protagonist whose life is depicted through a series of well-defined adventures. Usually he has an unusual birth, leaves his kingdom to go on some journey, and returns to his home a changed person. He is very brave, strong, and honorable; he risks his life for the good of all. Examples: Hercules, Aragorn, Lancelot, Wolverine 2. Young Man from the Provinces: The Hero returns home to find that he is a
stranger who can see new problems and new solutions. Example: The Prodigal Son, Luke Skywalker 3. Mentor: The mentor is an older, wiser teacher to the Hero. He is sometimes viewed as a father figure. He gives the Hero gifts, food, magic, information, help, etc. Example: Morpheus from the Matrix, Obiwan and Yoda from Star Wars. 4. Mentor-pupil-relationship: The mentor teaches the pupil skills in order to survive his journey 5. Hunting Group of Companions (side-kicks): Loyal friends to the Hero who are willing to
face hardships with him on his journey. Example: Hans Solo from Star Wars, Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter 6. The Shadow: A worthy opponent with whom the hero must fight in the end. Example: Darth Vader, Voldemort, The Matrix, Pride, Jealousy 7. Creature of Nightmare: A monster (literally or figuratively) that threatens the life of the Hero and his companions. Example: Cyclops from The Odyssey, the shark from Jaws 8. The Damsel in Distress: A woman (usually) who needs to be rescued by the Hero. She is often used to trap the hero.
Example: Princess Fiona from Shrek 9. The Temptress: A character whose beauty attracts the hero and brings about his/her downfall or gets him/her off course on the journey. Situational Archetypes: These are patterns in plots of stories 1. The journey: The journey sends the hero in search of some truth that will help him save himself and/or his kingdom. Stages of a heros journey (5 stages): Stage 1: Departure: the Hero is called (or forced) to adventure, although he may be
reluctant to accept Stage 2: Initiation: The hero crosses a threshold into a new, more dangerous world, where he gains more perspective on life Stage 3: The Road of Trials: The Hero is given supernatural aide, endures tests of strength, resourcefulness, and endurance. Stage 4: The Innermost Cave: The Hero descends into the underworld and is reborn in some way, either physically or mentally (this is the final standoff btwn good and evil) Stage 5: Return to society: The Hero
returns home and restores order to his kingdom More Situational Archetypes 1. The Task: The nearly super-human feats the Hero must perform in order to help himself or his kingdom. 2. The Fall: The descent from a higher to lower state of being, usually as a punishment for screwing up (going from god-like to man) 3. Death and Rebirth: The most common situational archetype. Basically the Hero dies (figuratively or literally) and is reborn. 4. Battle Between Good and Evil: When the hero,
usually a symbol of goodness, battles an evil character. USUALLY, good triumphs over evil, thus showing mans eternal optimism. Symbolic Archetypes: Patterns of symbols in stories 1. Wisdom vs. Stupidity: Some characters have wisdom while others, who are usually in charge and make tons of mistakes, do not. These people accompany the hero on his journey to give him advice. 2. Supernatural Intervention: When spiritual beings intervene on behalf of the hero. 3. The Underworld: A place of death where the
hero faces his fear of death or a great challenge during his journey. 4. Haven vs. Wilderness: A haven is a place of safety which is typically contrasted to the wilderness, a place of danger. Heroes are often sheltered from the wilderness during their journey. 5. The Crossroads: A place or time of decision when a realization is made and a change occurs in the Hero. 6. The Whirlpool: Symbolizes the destructive power of nature 7. Fog: Symbolizes uncertainty
spiritual purity Black: darkness, chaos, mystery, death, evil White: light, purity, innocence, timelessness Yellow: Wisdom, enlightenment Purple: Royalty The Journey Heroes can go on many types of journeys. They can be a quest for: identity, vengeance, love, the Holy Grail, knowledge, freedom or safety for his people, or a tragic quest which is penance
for something the hero thinks he did wrong or did do wrong. It can also be an epic journey which occurs over a long period of time, usually years/decades of a heros life (Gilgamesh) The Hero 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
The Traditional/Classical hero: Strong, good-looking, noble, skilled, honorable, brave Antihero: the exact opposite of a traditional hero: unhelpful, lacking courage and honesty, physically and mentally weak ( also called a Byronic hero) (Example: the phantom from Phantom of the Opera) Tragic Hero: main character in a tragedy who makes an error that leads to his/her downfall (Examples: Queen Elsa, the Grinch, the Hulk) Unsung hero: Heroes who do not get credit for their great deeds and go unnoticed by society (listing an example here might be ironic) Super hero: Heroes who have some sort of magical/mythical power that helps them in their tasks
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