Archetypes in Literature


archetype (är´kĬtīp´) [Gr. arch=first, typos=mold], term whose earlier meaning, "original model," or "prototype," has been enlarged by C. G. Jung and by several contemporary literary critics. A Jungian archetype is a thought pattern that finds worldwide parallels, either in cultures (for example, the similarity of the ritual of Holy Communion in Europe with the tecqualo in ancient Mexico) or in individuals (a child's concept of a parent as both heroic and tyrannic, superman and ogre). Jung believed that such archetypal images and ideas reside in the unconscious level of the mind of every human being and are inherited from the ancestors of the race. They form the substance of the collective unconscious. Literary critics such as Northrop Frye and Maud Bodkin use the term archetype interchangeably with the term motif, emphasizing that the role of these elements in great works of literature is to unite readers with otherwise dispersed cultures and eras.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Archetypes in Literature: Selected full-text books and articles

Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer By Bettina L. Knapp Indiana University Press, 1986
A Jungian Approach to Literature By Bettina L. Knapp Southern Illinois University Press, 1984
The Bitch Is Back: Wicked Women in Literature By Sarah Appleton Aguiar Southern Illinois University Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "To Arche the Type or Not to Arche the Type"
Archetypes of the Family in Literature By Sven Armens University of Washington Press, 1966
The Company of Camelot: Arthurian Characters in Romance and Fantasy By Charlotte Spivack; Roberta Lynne Staples Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Merlin: The Archetypal Wizard," Chap. 3 "Morgan le Fay: Goddess or Witch?," and Chap. 8 "Mordred: Arthur's Shadow"
Literature and Film as Modern Mythology By William K. Ferrell Praeger, 2000
Librarian's tip: "Applying the Archetype to Novels and Film" begins on p. 47
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