Friday, 14 October 2011

Looking at Archetpyes: Beyond the Core Seven

Previously I had taken a look at archetypes I had looked at the seven main types, using images from Star Wars to present a familiar face upon the concepts so that readers may be able to make the connections more easily, Below is that main article:

The Hero
In Narrative often the protagonist and focus of the story is the hero character, who must go on a journey which involves seperation from a previous comfortable life to develop as a character, in essence grow into a new more developed character. Often the Hero is Self Sacrificing, other traits such as strength and bravery are not always needed. In the Star Wars films the character Luke Skywalker is the Hero, he must travel from his home planet to learn to become a Jedi Knight along the way he faces many trials and tribulations that will test his worth as a hero.

The Sage
More often than not The Sage is a mentor to the hero, often an old man/woman whom contains vast amounts of knowledge and is often presented as mysterious or godlike. The Sage will gift the hero with various items such as knowledge, weapons or magic. Often The Sage will be taken out of the story as a part of the test to the Hero to see if they have truly learned the skills need to proceed. In the Star Wars films the role of The Sage is taken upon by Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi, whom the Hero meets prior to the quest, Obi-Wan teaches Luke of the Jedi teachings and the force, even gifting him with a weapon, the lightsabre. Obi-Wan remains a presence through out all of Luke's journey guiding his hand and offering advice where needed.

The Herald
Often acting as the catalyst to the Hero's reason for starting the journey. The Herald can either be a character, event or a piece of information that inspires the character to set out on their journey. In the Starwars films there are a number of factors that go into the classification of The Herald, but without a doubt it's Princess Leia, it's her message in R2-D2 that inspires Luke to search for Obi-wan whom starts Luke's Quest. There are various factors in the opening of Star Wars that relate to the beginnings of Luke's Quest such as the Droids, the imperial staff that didn't destroy the escape pod, Luke's Uncle buying the droids but, ultimately it's Leia's Message that causes the start of the journey.

The Threshold Guardian
It's the role of the Threshold Guardian to present the hero with their first challenge. Often the Threshold Guardian is a henchman or much less powerful than the final antagonist, sometimes the guardian can be of nuetral alliance with no connection to any other characters and merely exist for the purpose of posing a challenge to the Hero. In Star Wars without a doubt the Threshold is the Galactic Empire, it was stormtroopers who where looking for the droids that murdered Luke's family, giving him the freedom to set out on the quest, the empire also try to prevent Luke and Obi-wan obtaining a pilot to get off Tatooine. Through out the series the Empire constantly test the Hero and his companions making it a sort of re-appearing Threshold Guardian.

The Shapeshifter
This character's role is to present uncertainty in the Hero. Often The Shapeshifter's alliance can change between the Hero's or the Villian's and when alligned with the hero it's the Shapeshifter's role to question the beliefs and teachs of the hero. The Shapeshifter can also be a friend to the Hero or even a love interest, ultimately this character's role is to offer a balance of opinion to the Hero's. In Star Wars this role is filled by Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca, often Solo claims to look out for himself and even at time seem cold to the Luke's plight even noting that the ways of a Jedi are no match for "a good blaster", ultimately Solo becomes a friend and does always come through for the hero.

The Trickster
It's the role of this character to offer comedic relief to the story often to balance out an overly dramatic plot. The trickster's alliance can fall in either camps and can either be a bumbling fool or a cunning mastermind, their schemes can either result in success or failure but aslong as it happens with comedy the role of the trickster has been fufilled. In some stories the the trickster can be removed through a tragic event to denote the end of a film's light hearted nature and the beginning of a darker chapter. In Star Wars the role of the trickster is filled by R2-D2 and his companion C-3PO, often their antics are the present a light hearted nature to the film's darker themes, both characters are protrayed as intelligent with R2 being more cunning and 3PO being more bumbling, in Empire' 3PO's temporary death builds upon the darkening plot.

The Shadow
This is the Antagonist of the plot, often but not always the Shadow is the villian but it can also be a character with disagreeing veiws to the Hero. The Shadow must also be a worth opponent that will challenge the Hero's skills in a conflict that results in one being destroyed or rendered powerless. The Shadow is the negative force of the story but does not recognise themselves as the villian rather sees the narratives hero as the Villian. Undoubtable Darth Vader is the shadow in Star Wars, controlling the threshold guardian and constantly posing challenges to Luke and the other Rebels, although it is revealed that there is a greater evil above Vader, he still remains the main focus of Luke's ultimate challenge which is to bring Vader back to the good side of the force.

Adapting a blank slate to one of these would be fairly easy but during deeper research into archetypes it was revealed that there are many more. Working like the video game genres of combing two together to create a blend and ultimately something new, these sub-archetypes give a much wider variety than the initial seven and help give more interesting ideas to a character's role.

My research brought me to this list of archetypes availible on, that collects a total of 140 archetypes all seperated into catergorys, these being:
  • Main Archetypes
  • Minor Archetypes
  • RPG Archetypes
  • Cinese Zodiac Animal-Types
  • Carolyn Myss's Archetypes

Whilst within this lists there are a few archetypes that are repeated but it's still quite comprehensive and will be a big help in when it comes to my own characters as previously I just had "hero" in my mind, now I have the likes of "Willing Hero", "Tragic Anti-Hero" and "Catalyst Hero". Instead of Sage I now have "Fallen Mentor" and "Dark Mentor".

These variations aren't the only thing on the list though, there are also roles such as "The Judge" who is described in the List as :
"The Dispensation of punishments and rewards according to the precepts of Karmic Law, which is represented on the Physical Plane by external legal systems: lawyers, courts, prisons, etc. However, it is the Spiritual workings of an involuntary nature of which this Archetype speaks"
There are many other new roles I hadn't know about too; "Death", "Giver", "Caretaker", "Artist" etc. The list goes on. This guide to Archetypes though does some what take the magic out of things as in some places it's far to specific featuring elements such as "Spirit World" and "Sacrificial dance", which I wouldn't class as characters but more elements that may come up in a story, archetypical to a narrative but not to characters.

Regardless this guide of archetypes will prove useful as it also give good examples of characters who fall under each of the roles. I may do a bit of analysiation on a game and try identify the charcaters roles using this new guide to update upon my Star Wars guide.

Whats true though is that characters are the driving point of a narrative, you're story can be fairly mundane but if you're characters don't strike a chord on some level with the audience they will soon lose interest. When I start developing my characters further from just plain ideas in my head to something a little more tangible I will be using this list to help with inspiration.

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