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Archetype Prophetic Characters in Literature Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 21st, 2021

The notion of archetype has a Greek origin that means “original or old.” This term may also be translated into English as a model or pattern. “In literature, an archetype is a typical character, an action or a situation that seems to represent such universal patterns of human nature” (“Archetype” par.1).

Archetype prophetical characters are present in all genres of literature, and they may be defined as oft-recurring images, plots, motives in literature works. Another possible definition of the term archetype is “an original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied, or on which they are based” (Mcsorley par.2).

In literature, the term archetype sometimes is replaced with a prototype that means a plot, theme, or characters that are typical for a definite literary genre. These typical peculiarities, which are typical for Archetype Prophetical Characters due to their universal nature, help “to get the message of a work across the reader” (Mcsorley par.3).

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was among the first to develop the notion of an archetypal character. While studying the peculiarities of the ancient Greek drama plays, Aristotle pays attention to the fact that all major characters are rather typical, and they possess certain peculiarities that are adherent to this very genre. Later based on his findings, Aristotle has implemented the notion of the tragic hero, which now may be considered to be the first archetype character.

Another prominent figure who has applied the notion of the archetype to literature was Carl Jung. He states that in different historical periods in different literary sources, there were universal patterns of characters regardless of the culture.

In contemporary literature, due to the development of different genres and literary schools, there may be observed a huge amount of different archetype prophetical characters. At the same time, it is possible to distinguish several most common literary prototypes.

The most commonly encountered archetype prophetical character is a hero. As a rule, this prototype is associated with an image of a warrior who faces different challenges and does his best to overcome them. The examples of such prototypes may be exemplified by such literary characters as Hercules, Beowulf, and others.

Another very popular archetype in literature is the figure of the mother. It is represented as a devoted mother who cares about their child and sacrifices herself for their sake.

Sometimes maybe found an archetype, which is called the innocent youth (“Common Archetypes and Symbols in Literature” 2). As a rule, it is an inexperienced person with many weak points but who encourages sympathy due to his or her moral qualities. Sometimes this young person from a province has been taken away in early childhood. Being an adult, he or she returns home to face new problems and challenges.

In childrens literature, the archetype of an orphan is very popular. As a rule, the main hero is painted in the best light in order to arouse sympathy from young readers.

Apart from the typical archetype characters, there are also such rare examples as a scapegoat who takes his blame upon himself or a mentor whose aim is to support the main hero.

There is hardly a literary work in which that or this archetype character is absent. Most archetypes are based on cultural myths, and they have universal nature. By means of different archetypes, an author gives his audience a clear idea concerning the main character and the plot of the literary work in general.

Works Cited

.” Literary Devices, n.d. Web.

.” AP Lang Gonzo, n.d. Web.

Mcsorley, Brittany. . 2014. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Archetype Prophetic Characters in Literature'. 21 April.

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