Archetypes are original models in which other similar things are patterned or copied upon. It could also be used to mean a symbolic imagery which is derived from the past collective experience. Archetypes can be used for illuminating personality and literature. They are important to both the ancient mythology and modern narratives. (Fiero, 2010)
Freud’s personal unconscious theory states that ‘personal experiences have been forgotten but still linger in the personal unconscious mind and has some form of control in our behavior. (Kalsched, 1996)
Jung on the other hand believed that a collection of experiences and memories of humanity as a race exists. The experiences of mankind are somehow embedded into the minds of all men and women, a mixture of the experiences of humanity and of the archetypes of basic themes and motifs. They are referred to as genetic memory or racial memory. He further believes that the basic foundation of the collective unconscious is the archetype which he describes as unconscious pattern, which have developed through the ages. (Jung, 2003)
Archetypes influence the way people think. This is due to the fact that the same ideas are repeatedly used as previous generations. The archetypes present themselves through art, mythology, literature and dreams. (Jung, 2003)
The term archetype can be applied to the following:
- Character type
- Plot pattern
- An image
Archetypes in literature refer to an image, story pattern, and flow of events or character type which is used frequently to bring to mind a strong, unconscious relationship in a reader. Examples of archetypes in literature may include representations or terms like: the wicked witch, the enchanted prince, the sleeping beauty, fairy godmother. Such representations appear in different forms in poetry, drama and novels. (Harrison, 1993)
Advantages/ benefits of using archetypes in arts and Literature
- Speaking directly to our sentiments which allows for an emotionally powerful relationship with the brand.
- Creating shortcuts to meanings which allows for much faster cognitive processing.
- Compelling even after years of exposure which enables a compelling execution despite several repetitions which may exist in the message
- Transcend culture which enables a consistent global positioning.
Characteristics of archetypes
- They are universal. They remain the same
- Their appearance in diverse cultures cannot be explained as many cultures have a distinct separation
- They are not individual; they are the part we share with all humanity
- They are the inherited part of being which brings about the relationship between the current and the past.
- They are recurrent and appear in altered forms to take the present day situations and bring about a relationship between them and find a meaning in relation to the contemporary world.
Examples on how the archetypes are used in art and literature
Archetypes have been used in arts and literature for different types of representations. Examples of archetypal symbols include the snake, whale, eagle and vulture. An archetypal theme is the passage from innocence to experience. Archetypal characters include the blood brother, rebel, wise, grandparent and prostitute with a heart of gold. (Elke et al 2007)
Some other examples of the use of archetypes in art and literature include: creative experiences of mystics of all religions or the parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy tales and literature.
Uses of Archetypes in Arts and Literature
Archetypes are used in arts and literature to bring about the similarities between the current and the past events. In the book “The Humanistic Tradition Book 6 by Gloria K. Fiero 6th Edition, explores the political, economic and social contexts of human culture. It also provides a global and a multicultural perspective which helps to understand the relationship existing between the west and other world cultures. It also helps the students to understand humankind’s creative legacy as a continuum rather than a series of isolated events. It also covers history’s most memorable achievements. (Fiero, 2010)
Archetypes are further used in arts and literature to perform the following:
- Organize training materials around tacit knowledge skills: This can be seen on how the book “The Humanistic Tradition” is organized that gives the students a clear understanding on the relationships existing between different world cultures. This is best achieved through the use of archetypes.
- Help different groups understand their differing ways of working: The Archetypes have been used in several books to show how different communities differ with each other and how they relate to each other.
- Organize narrative historical data so as to enable them find a reasonable analogy to a current situation:
- Designing new products by testing new features and checking the reactions of a collection of archetypes representing features of the customer community.
How the two cultures (western and eastern) collide with the different archetypes
The use of archetypes has had a significant impact in the way western and eastern cultures interact. Western observers considered African art to be purely traditional which was passed down from one generation to another. Little acknowledgement existed in the creativity of individual artists. Through the use of archetypes, many western artists were inspired by the powerful forms of African objects. This later resulted into separation of objects from their intended contexts. This has had a great impact on the western culture especially how the westerners view the Eastern culture. All these have been made possible through the use of archetypes. (Elke et al 2007)
The most important archetype of all is self, the ultimate unity of the personality is. This can be represented by Mandala which is a drawing used in meditation as it tends to draw one’s focus to the centre. It can be as simple as a geometric figure or as complicated as a stained glass window. Some of the personifications which may represent self in the best possible way are Buddha and Christ who are considered and believed to have achieved perfection. However, Jung felt that perfection of the personality is only achieved in death. (Jung, 2003)
Work cited List
Gloria K. Fiero The Humanistic Tradition Book 6 (6th Edition). MC Graw Hill Publishers 2010
Elke Linda Buchholz, Sussane Kaepele, Karoline Hille, Irina Stotland & Gerhard Buhler. Art: A
World History. Abraham Publishers 2007
Harrison Charles. Art in theory 1900 -2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Willey-Blackwell
Jung, C.G. The Archetypes and the collective Unconscious. Routledge Publishers
Jung, C.G. The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature. Routledge Publishers 2003
Symbols of Transformation. Collected works of C.G Jung
The 20th Century Art Book. Phaidon Press. 2002
The developments of Personality. Collected Works of C.G. Jung
The Story of Human Creation: 30,000 Years of Art. By Editors of Phaidon
Kalsched Donald. The Inner World of trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit.
Routledge Publishers. 1996