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Archetypes, according to Jung, are "primordial
images"; the "psychic residue" of repeated types
of experience in the lives of very ancient
ancestors which are inherited in the "collective
unconscious" of the human race and are
expressed in myths, religion, dreams, and private
fantasies, as well as in the works of literature.
Some common examples of archetypes include
water, sun, moon, colors, circles, the Great
Mother, Wise Old Man, etc. In terms of
archetypal criticism, the color white might be
associated with innocence or could signify
death or the supernatural.
• In literature and art an archetype
is a character, a tradition, an
event, a story or an image that
recurs in different works, in
different cultures and in different
periods of time.
What is an Archetype?
• An archetype is a pattern
from which other, similar
things can be developed.
• For example, “the Flood”
is an archetypal image
that exists in myths across
many cultures. The basic
model is a huge flood
covering the entire planet,
initiating a kind of “clean
Archetypal Characters
• Hero/Heroine • Mad Scientist
• Femme Fatale
• Sidekick/Helper
• “Don Juan”
• Villain
• Star-Crossed
• Wise Sage Lovers
• Outcast • Witch/Shrew
• Oracle • Underdog
• Caring • Stern Father
Mother/Earth • Damsel in
Mother Distress
Archetypal Situations

• The task/trial • Pursuit of revenge

• The journey • Descent into the
• The Quest underworld/heave
nly ascent
• The loss of
innocence • Searching for
• The initiation
• Damsel in distress
• Apocalypse/end of
the world • Banishment of the
Archetypal Critical Questions

• What images, symbols, figures, are present

that are present in other literary works?

• What myths, dreams and even ritualized

modes of social behavior are present?
Ferdinand de Saussure

• Language as a ‘system of signs’

rather than a naming process. A sign
is composed of ‘sound-image’ and
‘concept,’ or signifier and signified.
Parole and Langue
Parole - “living language” or individual
speech acts.
Langue - the shared system of
language in a society.
The Nature of the Linguistic “Sign”

Signifier (the mental

impression of the
sound image “tree”)
+ Signified (the
concept “tree”)
= Sign
Tree =

Horse =