Archetypes: What they are and the different types

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June 10  

Archetypes definition

Archetypes are universal symbols and themes that appear in stories, myths, and human behavior. They help us understand patterns in our thoughts and actions, making sense of the world around us.

What are archetypes according to Jung?

According to Carl Jung, fundamental images and themes are stored in the collective unconscious. These mental images influence our experiences and behaviors, guiding how we perceive and react to various situations.

Different Archetypes

1. Jungian Archetypes:

Definition and Origin: Carl Jung introduced the concept of archetypes as universal, archaic symbols rooted in the collective unconscious. These archetypes are shared by all humans, representing common experiences and emotions.

Key Aspects:

Primordial Images: These are basic, universal symbols embedded in our collective psyche.

Collective Unconscious: A part of the unconscious mind shared among all humans, containing these archetypal images.

2. Character Archetypes in Fiction and Media:

Literature: Archetypes in literature are typical characters or storylines that recur in various works. They help readers quickly grasp and relate to the characters and plots.


Hero: Frodo Baggins in “Lord of the Rings” is an ordinary character who embarks on a significant quest.

Mentor: Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars” guides the hero with wisdom and knowledge.

Everyman: Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit” represents the common person, thrust into an extraordinary situation.

3. Brand Archetypes:

Application in Marketing: Brands use archetypes to create a strong identity and emotional connection with their audience. These archetypes personify the brand, making it relatable and memorable.


Magician: Red Bull embodies the magician archetype, focusing on transformation and energy.

Jester: M&M’s represents the jester, bringing joy and fun to its audience.

4. Human Experience and Behavior Archetypes:

Personality Traits: Archetypes help in grasping different personality traits and behaviors by categorizing common patterns and motivations.


The Rebel: Someone who challenges norms and seeks change.

The Innocent: A person who desires safety and happiness, often seen as pure and optimistic.

What are the Main Archetypes?

Carl Jung identified several primary archetypes that represent different aspects of the human experience. Here are the main ones:

1. The Hero:

Description: The Hero archetype represents courage, determination, and the will to overcome adversity. This character often embarks on a journey or faces significant challenges to achieve a goal.

Example: Harry Potter, who battles dark forces and overcomes numerous obstacles to save the wizarding world.

2. The Mentor:

Description: The Mentor provides guidance, wisdom, and support to the hero. This character helps the hero gain the knowledge needed to succeed.

Example: Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars,” who teaches and guides Luke Skywalker.

3. The Innocent:

Description: The Innocent archetype seeks safety and happiness, representing purity and optimism. This character often sees the world through a lens of hope and simplicity.

Example: Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” who embarks on a journey filled with wonder and innocence.

4. The Rebel:

Description: The Rebel challenges the status quo, often fighting for change or justice. This character resists authority and seeks to bring about transformation.

Example: Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” who leads a rebellion against an oppressive regime.

5. The Lover:

Description: The Lover archetype is driven by passion, emotion, and the desire for intimacy. This character seeks to build deep connections with others.

Example: Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet,” whose love for Juliet defies family feuds.

6. The Caregiver:

Description: The Caregiver is nurturing and selfless, often putting others’ needs before their own. This character is motivated by compassion and a desire to help others.

Example: Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings,” who supports and protects Frodo on their journey.

7. The Sage:

Description: The Sage archetype represents wisdom, knowledge, and a deep insight of the world. This character often serves as a teacher or philosopher.

Example: Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings,” who provides wisdom and guidance to the fellowship.

What are Archetypes in Literature?

Archetypes are recurring symbols, themes, and character types that resonate universally with readers. These archetypes help create relatable and engaging stories by tapping into familiar patterns of human behavior and experience.

1. Common Character Archetypes:

The Hero: Embarks on a quest and faces challenges.

The Mentor: Offers wisdom and guidance.

The Sidekick: Supports the hero and offers companionship.

The Villain: Opposes the hero and creates conflict.

The Trickster: Uses wit and cunning to achieve goals, often bringing humor.

2. Plot Archetypes:

The Hero’s Journey: A narrative pattern where the hero goes on an adventure, faces a crisis, and returns transformed.

The Quest: The protagonist searches for something of great value.

Overcoming the Monster: The hero faces a formidable foe and triumphs.

Rags to Riches: The protagonist rises from poverty to wealth or success.

What are Archetypes in Psychology?

In psychology, archetypes are universal symbols that reside in the collective unconscious, influencing thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes is foundational in comprehending the human psyche and its development.

1. The Shadow:

Description: Symbolizes the darker aspects of the self, including repressed desires and instincts. The Shadow must be acknowledged and integrated for personal growth.

Example: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the shadow embodies the hidden, darker side of the protagonist.

2. The Anima/Animus:

Description: The Anima symbolizes the feminine aspect in men, while the Animus represents the masculine aspect in women. These archetypes help balance gender traits within individuals.

Example: In literature, the Anima might be portrayed as a nurturing, intuitive figure, while the Animus might be depicted as a logical, assertive character.

3. The Self:

Description: Represents the unified unconsciousness and consciousness of an individual, striving for balance and harmony.

Example: The Self is often symbolized in myths as a circle, square, or mandala.

What are Archetypes in Mythology?

Archetypes in mythology are recurring motifs and symbols that appear in myths from various cultures, representing universal human experiences and values.

1. The Hero:

Description: The hero in mythology often embarks on a journey or quest, facing trials and acquiring wisdom or power.

Example: Hercules, who completes twelve labors to prove his strength and valor.

2. The Great Mother:

Description: Symbolizes fertility, creation, and nurturing. This archetype appears in many cultures as a goddess or maternal figure.

Example: Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth.

3. The Trickster:

Description: A cunning, playful figure who uses wit to overcome challenges, often causing chaos but also bringing change.

Example: Loki in Norse mythology, known for his mischievous and clever antics.

What are Archetypes in Spirituality?

In spirituality, archetypes represent stages of spiritual development and ideals that guide individuals towards enlightenment and self-realization.

1. The Divine Child:

Description: Represents innocence, purity, and potential. This archetype often symbolizes new beginnings and hope.

Example: The Christ Child in Christianity, symbolizing hope and redemption.

2. The Wise Old Man/Woman:

Description: Embodies wisdom, guidance, and spiritual insight. This archetype helps others on their spiritual journey.

Example: The Dalai Lama, often seen as a spiritual guide and wise leader.

3. The Seeker:

Description: Represents the quest for knowledge and truth. This archetype is driven by a desire to understand the deeper meanings of life.

Example: Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha after seeking enlightenment.

Examples of Archetypes

1. Popular Culture:

Harry Potter: The series highlights the hero’s journey through the character of Harry Potter, with mentors like Dumbledore guiding him.

Lord of the Rings: Features a reluctant hero (Frodo) and a wise old man (Gandalf) archetype.

2. Marketing:

Red Bull: Represents the magician archetype, focusing on transformation and high energy.

Nike: Embodies the hero archetype, encouraging perseverance and victory through their slogan “Just Do It.”

3. Psychology and Spirituality:

Jungian Psychology: Uses archetypes to explore the human psyche and the process of individuation, helping individuals achieve personal growth.

Spirituality: Archetypes symbolize spiritual ideals and stages of enlightenment, such as the Wise Sage or the Divine Child.

Importance and Benefits of Archetypes

Understanding archetypes allows us to gain deeper insights into human behavior, storytelling, and branding. This knowledge can lead to personal growth, psychological healing, and creating resonant marketing messages.

1. Personal Growth: Recognizing and understanding one’s own archetypes can lead to greater self-awareness and personal development.

2. Psychological Insight: Archetypes provide a framework for understanding psychological patterns, facilitating therapy and self-discovery.

3. Marketing and Branding: Using archetypes in branding helps create strong emotional connections with the target audience, enhancing brand loyalty and recognition.

Related Terms

Collective Unconscious: The shared part of the unconscious mind containing archetypes.

Hero’s Journey: A common narrative archetype in literature, detailing a hero’s adventure.

Personality Types: Different patterns of personality traits that align with archetypes.

References and Further Reading


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“Man and His Symbols” by Carl G. Jung

“The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell

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