Archetypes in Literature
On Auxiliary Pages
Periodic Table of Literary Archetypes
|IV a||III a||II a||I a||I c||II c||III c||IV c|
|----------||--- Shadow||types: ---||----------||IV p||III p||II p||I p||--------||I i||II i||III i||IV i||----------||--- Shadow||types: ---||----------|
IV integrative & spiritual
* All row and column positions were chosen for reasons, then the sequence numbers were added in simple left-to-right order.
* The small numbers in the upper-right of each element are references to sources. For the masculine archetypes, the number gives the page and paragraph in Moore and Gillette . For the feminine archetypes the number gives the paragraph and sentence in Wind Hughes .
* The colors are my arbitrary assignments, based on an older system assigning archetypes to directions colored by the Mayan tradition. The direction assignments were: Lover in the east, Warrior in the south, Magician in the west and King in the north however I am not attached to those assignments and used a different arrangement in my wedding design.
* The primordial archetypes are not numbered and their positions are not really meant to fit into the structure of the rest of the table.
* If you like structured charts related to categories of personality, you might also wish to check out my MBTI chart.
Archetypes in Human Psychological Development
Human beings undergo a maturation process that leads from prototypical human behavior during early childhood to fully powerful manifestations as mature adults. The mature adult character can be viewed as manifesting itself as a combination of archetypes. Each archetype represents certain attributes of temperament, character, and behavior. In the systems I use, there are five primordial dimensions (described in more detail on the primordial archetypes page) that combine to form the 48 numbered elements in the table.
Historical Origin of the Archetypes in Literature and Culture
As detailed here, behavioural functions can be divided into categories that correspond to regions of the brain. For the sake of this introduction, let us consider a simple two-category division, between "communication, perception and understanding" on the one hand, and "deduction, decision and action" on the other5.
Note that each occurs equally often in any living thing that exhibits behaviour, regardless of sex or gender. Also, each of these two categories includes physical, emotional and mental aspects. For example, communication can be mental (through words), emotional (facial expressions) or physical (touch, gestures, watching someone move around a room).
However, also note that this classification is reflected fairly well by gender-bias that is evident in mythology and literature from ancient times through to the present day.
The first category (communication) happens between two or more people, while the other can involve a single person or more than one. If you believe in the autonomy of multiple parts of the mind (the Id, ego, and super-ego, an Inner child, etc.) then there is "communication" inside the mind. I consider this to be part of the "deduction/decision/action" category; the individual is using several different skills at the same time. Awareness of the multi-part mind is fairly recent, and is too sophisticated a concept to be relevant here.
In ancient times when story-tellers "taught" wisdom they usually did so through fables involving characters6. Many of the stories that were being told concerned psychology, behaviour, ethics and morality, group interaction, and so on the kinds of things I am discussing when I refer to "archetypes" and why they are important.
I believe that when the story-tellers wanted to discuss a lesson related to communication, they were more likely to tell the story with a female character. When they wanted to discuss a lesson related to action, they more often chose a male character for their story.6
What happens if a young child is given a vaugely-defined object (say an oddly-shaped piece of wood) to play with? A boy is likely to pretend the object is some sort of tool or weapon, and a girl is likely to treat it like a baby or doll. There is a big Nature versus nurture debate regarding this phenomenon, but that does not need to be resolved here. The only thing we need to agree on is that this phenomenon also affected the story-tellers' choices of what characters to use in their fables6. (Of course, once they made such choices, the resulting oral tradition would have helped amplify the existing gender role bias in the culture).
This use of gendered characters in fables led to a gradual accumulation of beliefs (some of them subconscious) linking lessons to gender-roles. These lessons covered all the areas I listed above (behaviour, morality/ethics, group dynamics, etc.).
Over time, human cultures accumulated a vast body of literature (myths, fables, stories, etc.) containing lessons about behaviour, most of which can be classified into one or the other of the categories I set out above. Newer writers typically built on common themes and clarified old lessons, but the categorization of types of lesson, and association with specific types of characters, continued. Lessons regarding communication/perception/understanding were more likely to use female characters, and those regarding deduction/decision/action were more likely to use male characters.
Our modern descriptions of the archetypes were derived from the mythology fairly recently (e.g. by Jung, Moore and Gillette). The treatment of them as "masculine" and "feminine" is a convenience of nomenclature for those who study and understand the mythology. In general, a Jung/Moore/Gillette "masculine" archetype unifies lessons and wisdom imparted by myths/fables/stories that use male characters.
The association of these with actual male and female people (as distinguished from mythological characters) is an unfortunate accident caused by the terminology.
In other words, our current use of "male" and "female" to refer to the archetypes has no relevant connection to the use of the words "male" and "female" to refer to people or to the use of "male" and "female" to refer to electrical cable connectors! This is much like the treatment of such words in the east (see for example the relation between male and female in the Yin and yang distinction.) It is no surprise to me that eastern thought has less trouble with the gender words.
Given the problems of "sexism" in teachings that are meant to illustrate the same psychological principles in all people regardless of sex, it might be useful to purge all gender names from the archetypes entirely but that will be a lot of work. Moore and Gillette describe 24 "masculine" archetypes, and there are another 24 on the "feminine" side (see my table). Nearly all archetypes in the literature, including my sources, have genderized names.
Because this page is mainly about mythology and literature, it will use the "genderized" names freely. This is mainly as an aid to match the psychological elements (which are described in a more generic way on the primordial archetypes page) with their literary counterparts. In most of the discussion to follow, I do include references to the fact that both "genders" of archetypes occur in both genders of people.
Definition of "Archetype" and Related Concepts
These are from the Oxford English Dictionary:
archetype n 1. : a very typical example of a certain person or
1.c. PSYCHOANALYSIS (in Jungian psychology) : a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.
It is valuable to distinguish between proper-named icons for example, the typecast personality of Clint Eastwood and the Pandora of Greek mythology and generic archetypes like the Brother, the In-Law, and the Neighbor which invoke well-known stereotypes of family and community.
I also sometimes refer to the proper-named icons as character archetypes because they are often named after characters in fiction.
Both types of archetypes proper-named and generic serve as stereotyped examples of human behaviour by which we can better understand ourselves and those around us. The proper-named icons are very specific, and it is easy to resolve a question of whether that archetype would express a certain attitude or type of behavior. Generic archetypes are more general, and not as clearly defined we have good neighbors and annoying neighbors. "In-laws" and "brothers" also vary widely.
Contrasting both of these is the elemental archetype. These are even more "generic", but also more clearly defined, because they have been reduced to the simplest form. Whereas the proper-named and generic archetypes can be constructed out of a combination of two or more characteristics measured out in equal or differing quantities an elemental archetype cannot be so constructed out of a combination of others. Each elemental archetype represents the purest distilled refined form of a single desirable strength, or undesirable weakness.
The elemental archetypes are labels used by authors like those in my references (such as , ) when describing patterns seen in mythology and literature, with the belief or implication that the literature reflects reality of human experience.
Here are examples of the three different types of archetypes:
I tend to use elemental archetypes whenever possible, because they isolate certain specific personality types. For an example of the application of archetypes, see how I use the "Brother", the "In-Law" and the "Neighbor" to describe promotion.
The most important archetypes I present here represent eight dimensions of personality: two for each of four aspects of awareness and function, one archetype for each side of the task/relationship dichotomy: the Warrior, Lover, Magician, King on the task side, and the Maiden, Mother, Queen and Crone on the relationship side.
The main purpose of this article is to present the elemental archetypes defined by my model, which identifies an archetype with each combination of the following five distinctions:
- task versus relationship (these developed into masculine versus feminine; most believe through historical development of gender roles and gender-bias, though theories differ see sex and psychology),
- four aspects of ability discussed on a separate page: physical, emotional, mental/intellectual and spiritual/integrative,
- adult versus child,
- balanced versus shadow, and
- the two extremes of each shadow: aggressive versus passive on the task-oriented side and co-dependent versus isolated in the relationship-oriented side.
Most of these distinctions, taken alone and not combined with any of the others, result in various primordial archetypes discussed by Jung, Freud and others. These include the id, ego, and super-ego; the anti-ego, persona, anima and animus, wild man, and child. I have placed some of these in the periodic table although their positions really do not fit well with the rest of the table and for that reason I did not give them numbers. Select any of the links in this paragraph to read more about them.
Reasons for Having Four of Each
Carl Jung believed that "human preoccupation with quadration" came from a four-sided structure in the collective unconscious. This is reflected in a pyramid-like structure (called a "Quaternio") and a double-pyramid or octohedron (called a "Double-Quaternio") that appear in his Structure and Dynamics of the Self. These structures show (according to Jung) commonalities seen in the symbolism of "various philosophies and religions" including Gnostic and Christian cultures. The quaternio diagrams were adapted by Moore and Gillette (e.g. in ) and are now better known in that form.
I consider the symbolism used to illustrate these structures, and the somewhat simplified and modernized appproach of Moore and Gillette, to be too closely bound to non-elemental archetypal concepts (proper-named icons and generic archetypes). Instead, I classify all 48 archetypes by the aspects of ability that they belong to. These are four broad categories of human ability and activity/behaviour. The four aspects are described in more detail here: primordial aspect component.
Here are the four mature-adult archetypes of each side arranged by the four aspects:
This categorization brings a strong new clarity to the many of the details in discussions of what the archetypes are. For example, the classification between physical skills, emotional skills and mental skills helps illustrate how a person applies their experience and abilities to the many aspects of a romantic-sexual relationship. In most of the literature (notably in ), the entire area of romantic-sexual functioning is lumped into the Lover archetype.
A Note About "Spirituality" and "Integrative"
I distinguish between "religion" and "spirituality" as follows: Religion includes all aspects that are physical, emotional and mental. Spirituality includes is what is "left over" after those parts have been "removed". In other words, spirituality is the part of the religious experience that is neither physical, emotional, mental/intellectual or any combination of those three. Some people never have (any noticable) spiritual experience in their physical lifetime.
Along with "Spiritual" I also use the word "Integrative". This refers to a person's ability to integrate their physical, emotional and mental/intellectual skills into a complete facility and maturity. For example, a person who can overcome physical challenges is manifesting the Warrior and/or Maiden; when they are overcoming emotional challenges they are manifesting the Lover and/or Mother but if they can overcome both types of challenge at the same time they are also manifesting some of the King and/or Queen.
The Archetypes in Individual versus Group Behaviors
Each of the four archetypes can also be distinguished by how they are exemplified by individuals and by a group:
The Eight Primary Archetypes
There are eight archetypes that are both adult and balanced. Four are task oriented and the other four are relationship and communication oriented.
By "task-oriented", I refer to anything that a person does on their own, without the need to communicate with other people. I have grouped the "male" literary archetypes under this category.
The Warrior(task, physical, adult, balanced)
The Warrior is that part of the mature masculine who overcomes the physical challenges in life. He gives his best, does not quit, and often makes great personal sacrifices, subjugating his needs for the greater good. He is not afraid to die for what he believes in. He fights with honor, and never out of anger.
Shadows of the Warrior
(task, physical, adult, active-shadow)
This is the active shadow of the mature Warrior. Manifestations of the sadist shadow include:
- (This sub-section not finished yet)
(task, physical, adult, passive-shadow)
This is the passive shadow of the mature Warrior. Manifestations of the masochist shadow include:
- (This sub-section not finished yet)
The child (or "boy") form of the Warrior is the Hero. The hero is a shallow, rose-tinted version of the warrior: he knows of risk, failure and success and a motivation to help others, but knows little or none of the true pain and challenge that warriors need to overcome. The Hero has not yet learned that "war is hell".
The shadows of the Hero are:
(task, physical, child, active-shadow).
Coward (task, physical, child, passive-shadow)
The Lover(task, emotional, adult, balanced)
The Lover, is that part of the mature masculine who overcomes the emotional challenges in life. He has intuition and the artist's creative impulse; he is empathetic, compassionate and passionate. He is not afraid to tell the truth, even in defiance of the Warrior and the King. He goes deep and will not quit on a man in need until they get what they need.
Shadows of the Lover
(task, emotional, adult, passive-shadow)
This is the passive shadow of the mature Lover. The term Impotent is used in Moore and Gillette; Extremist calls attention to the possibility that the person's external manifestation of emotional behaviour can be a compensation for the difficulty in feeling emotion. Manifestations of the extremist shadow include:
- (This sub-section not finished yet)
(task, emotional, adult, active-shadow)
This is the active shadow of the mature Lover. Manifestations of the addict shadow include:
- (This sub-section not finished yet)
(not written yet)
The Magician(task, mental, adult, balanced)
The Magician is that part of a mature masculine who overcomes the intellectual challenges in life. The creativity of the inventor; inspiration; seeking answers to that burning question, and assimilating wisdom these are his skills. He is not afraid to be wrong, he questions everything and knows that there is always more to learn from the men around him.
Shadows of the Magician
This is the passive shadow of the mature Magician. Manifestations of the innocent shadow include:
- Uncounsciously pretending not to know something, with a result that influences others in some way (if conscious, it is probably the other shadow, the manipulator, see below)
- (This sub-section not finished yet)
This is the active shadow of the mature Magician. Manifestations of the manipulator shadow include:
- "Playing dumb" intentionally pretending to not know things in order to gain an advantage in some way. (If the person really doesn't think he knows anything, they're being the "innocent".)
- Pointing out incorrect details to change the topic or derail an argument, even when the result of the argument would be unaffected by those details.
- Stating opinions in the form of questions, so that any answer appears to manifest agreement ("leading" or "loaded" questions, see MCV09)
This is a shadow of the immature masculine described in  and possessing properties of both the Innocent and the Manipulator. Hoaxes are often perpetuated by the Trickster mentality:
A combination of all of the Magician shadows appears when a person makes decisions or takes actions without giving enough thought to the decision. Such actions can lead to a domino effect of undesirable consequences, as when (for example) a poorly researched or misleading news report spreads into widespread misunderstanding, causing anything from the sudden failure of a business to an international war.
(not written yet)
The King(task, spiritual/integrative, adult, balanced)
The King is that part of the mature masculine who manifests spiritual or integrative qualities. (By "integrative" I mean the application of the abilities and skills of the other archetypes in situations that cannot be handled by just one of them). The King brings the Courage of the Warrior, the Passion of the Lover, and the Wisdom of the Magician to the everything in his world. All energy flows from the King, he is the Source. When his life is in balance, his kingdom the world prospers. When he is out of balance the world suffers.
Shadows of the King
This is the passive shadow of the mature King. Manifestations of the weakling shadow include:
- Breaking off the conversation in response to other active shadows (can appear as "I am going to take my toys and go home": the man is "leaving" even if he does not physically leave)
This is the active shadow of the mature King. Manifestations of the tyrant shadow include:
- Not speaking personally (see MCV13).
- Making demands; speaking in the imperative.
This can be addressed by asking the person to speak personally. One possible prompt is: I would like you to re-state your demand in terms of your personal desire.
(not written yet)
Relationship and Communication Archetypes
By "relation and comunication", I refer to all the things that people do that involve communication with other people. I have grouped the "female" literary archetypes under this category. There is one for each primordial aspect
The Maiden(relationship, physical, adult, balanced)
In mythology, the Maiden is exemplified by the Greek goddess of youth, Hebe.
In the table, the shadows of the Maiden are archetypes 31 (the co-dependent side) and 27 (the isolated side). These are addressed thusly by Wind Hughes:
ar31 : She can [...] dangerously [take] risks, becoming self destructive, holding a deaf ear to the inner voice of her own Wise Woman and to the wisdom of others.
ar27 : She may be the dutiful daughter, her self worth linked to pleasing others in order to receive their approval. She has not developed a strong sense of self [...]. Wind Hughes 
The analogies to Cinderella and her step-sisters are clear, and described in my more thorough description of the Maiden shadows. Based on Wind Hughes' description I am calling archetype 31 the "self-destructive", and number 27 is "cinders" based on the Cinderella analogy. Both appear in male personalities as well.
The child (or girl) aspect of the Maiden is the flower girl; there are also two child shadows (number 43 "child-Ci" and 47 "child-Sd") which I have not yet named.
The Mother(relationship, emotional, adult, balanced)
In mythology, the Mother is exemplified by the Greek goddess of marriage and childbirth, Hera.
The shadows of the Mother are elemental archetypes 32 (co-dependent) and 28 (isolated). They are described by Wind Hughes :
ar28 : [Because we] depend on the mother to nurture us and protect us, [...] she has the power to abuse and abandon us. She can control, criticize and reject the [maiden aspect].
ar32 : [...] She may lose herself into the "other", and dissolve away, taking care of [others] while denying herself, becoming a martyr. Wind Hughes 
Based on these descriptions I am tentatively using the names "critic" and "martyr" for these shadow elements. Both are abundantly common in men and women alike.
The Crone(relationship, mental, adult, balanced)
A reviewer of Donna Henes' book  states:
The Crone is the ancient one, the wise one, the all-knowing, all-giving one who dispenses her knowledge with patience and largesse.2
According to Carol Christ,
The older woman or crone is, "The wise old woman, the woman who knows from experience what life is about, the woman whose closeness to her own death gives distance and perspective on the problems of life."1
The Crone is looked to by all in the community, men and women alike, as a source of wisdom regarding relationships, family, community, and of course the personal affairs of women.
The shadows of the Crone are elements 33 (the co-dependent extreme) and 29 (isolated). Wind Hughes  describes mainly the latter, which I am tentatively calling the "bitter old maid":
ar29 : She can be bitter if she did not complete actualization of the previous stages of life, making it difficult for her to let go of her youth, dreams, people and living in the body. She may isolate herself and may blame others for her misfortunes. Her rage can be fiery. Her sadness and pain deep. Wind Hughes 
We can deduce the nature of archetype 33, the co-dependent shadow Crone, by imagining how her power might be misguided. The Crone's job is described by Wind Hughes:
[...] Her responsibilities have moved into the arena of sharing the knowledge that she has acquired and she welcomes the invitation to share it. She returns the seed of vision back to the Maiden. [...] Wind Hughes 
Combined with the bitterness or resentment mentioned earlier, but without the isolation, I imagine that ar33 would provide incorrect or harmful guidance to the younger women and others in her community who seek her wisdom. I am tentatively calling this shadow the "wicked witch". Despite the female-sounding names, the bitter old maid and the wicked witch also appear as shadows in male personalities.
The child (or girl) aspect of the Crone is a brilliant and accomplished but socially average girl; I have not found an archetypical name and am referring to using an iconic archetype, Lisa Simpson. There are also two child shadows (number 45 "child-Bi" and 49 "child-Ww") which I have not yet named.
The Queen(relationship, spiritual/integrative, adult, balanced)
The shadows of the Queen, are archetypes 34 (co-dependent) and 30 (isolated). They are described this way by Wind Hughes :
ar34 : The powerful queen can abuse her power and direct her knowledge and status for negative purposes, clinging to all she has achieved, becoming consumed with acquiring more and more power.
ar30 : She may respond to her sense of personal, familial or social responsibilities by withdrawing and withholding. [...] She may feel drained, resentful and misdirect her anger [or] feel she has [nothing] to offer this stage of life. Wind Hughes 
The first description sounds a lot like the male archetype 19, the tyrant. To distinguish 34 from the tyrant, and to emphasize the co-dependent relationship aspects, I am using the name "control queen". For archetype 30 I am tentatively using the name "resentful spinster". Despite these female names, both shadows appear in male personalities as well.
The child (or girl) aspect of the Queen is the princess; there are also two child shadows (number 46 "child-Re" and 50 "child-Cq") which I have not yet named.
Extending the Chemical Analogy
As I described earlier, I chose to arrange the archetypes in a table of rows and columns because that seemed less arbitrary, and more flexible, than the Double Quaternio of Jung. Once deciding to use rows and columns, I then had some options as to ordering, including which distinctions are vertical and which are horizontal; what order the four aspects of ability should go in; whether to put the child next to the adult or the shadow next to the balanced; and so on. The ordering that I ended up with combines several analogies to chemistry, which I list here.
Each archetype is an "element", because it can not be expressed as a combination of other archetypes in the table. So, for example, the Mother is not a combination of the Ingenue plusthe Queen, or the Lover plus the Maiden, or any other set of archetypes.
However, with a deeper understanding of the structure of the table (or any other orderly structured arrangement) each archetype can be shown to be a combination of primordial archetypes. For example, the Mother represents the communication, emotional, adult, balanced aspect of human personality. The Coward is the task, physical, child, passive-shadow aspect of human personality. The primordial archetypes are therefore analogous to the proton, electron, neutron, and other sub-atomic particles.
"Compounds" found in Literature
Just as chemical elements from opposite ends of the normal periodic table combine to form compounds, archetypes at symmetrically opposite positions in the table are found side-by-side in literature. There are numerous "warrior-and-maiden" stories, in which both are presented as fully mature, good and admirable; and other similar pairings such as Mother and Lover, or King and Queen. Shadows are also often juxtaposed in a symmetrical way for example, the Wizard of Oz (a Detached Manipulator, number 20 in the table) and the Wicked Witch of the West (archetype number 33).
Iconic or Character Archetypes
I describe "iconic" archetypes as being those that have a specific name, like Icarus, Lady MacBeth, Han Solo, and Hermione Granger. These are characters in mythology and literature, who have a specific personality that is a combination or several or many elemental archetypes. If the archetypes are "elements", then iconic or character archetypes are like "molecules".
In some cases, two characters from entirely different stories (like Doc Brown from Back to the Future and Merlin as portrayed by Disney) can be thought of as "the same personality" because they consist of the same combination of elemental archetypes (in this case, both are an "absent-minded professor", a combination of a strong Magician with child and/or passive shadows of the other three masculine archetypes each in smaller amounts, e.g. the Divine Child, the Dreamer, and the Hero). If we imagine the Magician component to be twice as strong as each of the other three, we would have:
Doc Brown = DiM2DrHe
That is, "Divine Child plus 2 × Magician plus Dreamer plus Hero".
Such cases are actually fairly rare, because characters are rarely so well-defined, and because most characters manifest different archetypes at different times in the story. In fact, such archetypal character changes are an important component of good plot development.
A generic classification, like the in-law or the gunslinger, includes a number of characters that tend to share some archetypal components in common, but differ in many others. If each character is a molecule (as just described), then a generic archetype is a family of molecules (like the Esters, the Amino acids, or the Paraffins).
2 : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/0975890603 Customer review of The Queen of Myself on Amazon.
6 : human characters in fables : Of course, actual history is more complex than this. Many of the earliest known fables used animal characters, not human. According to Joseph Campbell, all mythology began with animal religion and animal symbolism. However, most of the animal stories eventually evolved into a more sophisticated mythology involving gendered (human or human-like) characters. It was during this evolution that the story-tellers were able to choose which gender to give each character.
 Carl Jung, The Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self, in the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume IX part II, Carrie Lee Rothgeb (Ed.), Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691018263
 Appendix A ("Decoding the Quaternio") from: Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, The King Within: Accessing the Lover in the Male Psyche, William Morrow and Co., Inc, (New York) (1993) ISBN 0-688-09593-3
 Mary Ovenstone, Understanding the Four Primary Archetypes, interview in Odyssey Magazine. Names the feminine archetypes "Warrioress", "Lover", "Crone" and "Queen". Much in common with Moore and Gillette; also names several composite god and goddess archetypes. Available here
 Robert P. Munafo, Marriage initiation ritual, available on this page. Treats the wedding guests as representatives of a larger "community" whose role is to endorse and support the marriage; uses the 8 mature archetypes to represent all aspects of human maturity as manifested by that community.
 Sunyata Satchitananda, What is the Divine Feminine?, and What is the Divine Masculine? web pages, 2008. Presents a system of twelve primary archetypes, grouped into six pairs: God/Goddess, King/Queen/Mother, Priest/Priestess, Warrior/Warrioress, Lover, and Sage/Wise Woman. Some reflect complementary aspects of psychology commonly viewed through gender personalities, while others are virtually identical.
 *ComputerSherpa, The Periodic Table of Storytelling. A much larger and somewhat less structured "periodic table" based on a few hundred entries from the tvtropes wiki. A fraction of this material describes character types, most of which are very specific or narrowly-focused.
This page was last updated on 2015 Jan 01. s.11