What are Archetypes in Literature?

Updated: January 12, 2023
An archetype is a typical character, an action, or a situation that is universally understood. Archetypes are often used in literature to help the reader understand the characters and the story.
Detailed answer:

Archetypes are literary device that refers to a character or pattern of behavior that is common to all human cultures.

The term archetype comes from the Greek word archetypos, meaning “original pattern.” In literature, it refers to a character, setting, plot, or symbol that represents an idea or a universal symbol. Archetypes are found in classic stories and myths because they’ve been passed down through generations. They highlight important human experiences such as love and death.

Archetypes can help readers understand a story on a deeper level. For example, when you read about a hero fighting against evil forces to save his kingdom from destruction, you might think of King Arthur or Hercules fighting against various monsters during their adventures. You might also think of Harry Potter battling Voldemort in order to defeat evil forces and save Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from being destroyed by Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters.

The use of archetypes allows writers to tell stories with common themes that resonate with readers because they recognize certain characters or situations within the stories they read.

Common archetypes include the hero (a brave person who saves others from danger), the villain (a cruel person who causes harm to others), and other characters such as mentors (adults who help others learn important life lessons) or sidekicks (comic relief characters).

Archetypes can be found in many forms of art, including literature, music and film.

What are Archetypes in Literature?. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/qa/what-are-archetypes-in-literature/