Archetypal Characters

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What is a character archetype?

How do character archetypes differ from traditional Jungian archetypes?

When would you most likely use this kind of archetype?

Although the 12 character archetypes laid out by Carl Jung may be included, these are not the only character archetypes out there. In fact, there are hundreds of archetypes that fictional characters may embody, although some are more common than others.

This kind of information is usually used to make archetype character analyses. You can study characters on a deeper level than simply just the Jungian archetypes list and learn more about them with regard to their specific actions, feelings, and words.

Learning about the archetypes that best suit your favorite characters can make it easier for you to learn more about yourself at the same time. Check out the list of character archetypes below to discover more.

Character Archetypes List

Through this archetype list, you should be able to learn more about the characters you enjoy and where they fall into these categories. Remember that, while some of these are Jungian archetypes, not all of them are. Some may come from other lists and some may simply be archetypes that have come into popularity through literature, film, and TV over the years.

1. The Hero

  • Objectives: To save something—the world, the day, the damsel in distress, etc.
  • Goals: To be worthy enough to call themselves a hero; to be recognized as such; to make a difference for at least one other character
  • Strengths: Physical strength, emotional strength, courage
  • Weaknesses: Can become corrupt with power; may quickly become too prideful because of their skill; may sink into a dark place mentally if they fail at something along the way
  • Qualities: Self-confident, capable, caring toward others, willing to go on a quest or undertake an assignment in order to do the right thing

2. The Mentor

  • Objectives: To guide others and provide advice that can assist the Hero or anyone else in striving for their goals
  • Goals: To share wisdom learned through experience; to impart knowledge that may help the Hero on their quest
  • Strengths: Experience, understanding, plenty of information to help others get through situations
  • Weaknesses: May be too slow to act and could cause the Hero or anyone else in the story to suffer because of it; may be too old-fashioned or set in their ways to allow much change
  • Qualities: Intelligent, wise, calm, soothing

3. The Orphan

  • Objectives: To find a new family (literally or metaphorically)
  • Goals: To belong somewhere, to be loved, to make a difference
  • Strengths: Strong street-smarts, compassion, empathy, emotional strength
  • Weaknesses: May be taken advantage of easily, may come off as desperate
  • Qualities: Genuinely cares about others, wants to connect

4. The Father (Figure)

  • Objectives: To take care of and impart wisdom to someone else
  • Goals: To take care of the family or found family, to make sure at least one other character succeeds and remains safe
  • Strengths: Caring, willing to educate when necessary, part of the team
  • Weaknesses: Can be set in old ways and unwilling to change; may be hard to talk to openly about feelings
  • Qualities: Wants to help others thrive without making the same mistakes he made in life; emotionally strong

5. The Loner

  • Objectives: To handle life without assistance from others
  • Goals: To follow their dreams or reach their goals on their own time
  • Strengths: Self-driven, good at what they do, strong survivalist skills (literally and metaphorically)
  • Weaknesses: Unskilled at making lasting relationship connections, not good at asking for help when it’s needed
  • Qualities: Well-rounded, knowledgeable, drifter

6. The Observer

  • Objectives: To discover knowledge about what’s going on around them
  • Goals: To “watch and learn” from others; to know the details
  • Strengths: Understanding, deep thinking, capable of quietly paying attention and remembering details of importance
  • Weaknesses: May be too passive and inactive when needed; may be guarded or hard to press for information
  • Qualities: Calm, quiet, gentle in nature, always alert

7. The Nerd

  • Objectives: To be liked and appreciated for who they are, despite their interests in concepts that are nerdy or undesirable to many
  • Goals: To fit in with the crowd, to make friends, to pursue knowledge in their topic or area of interest
  • Strengths: Thorough understanding of one or two topics or fields; capable of making lasting, close friendship with other Nerd archetypes; usually intelligent or book-smart
  • Weaknesses: May have very little social skills or not be very street-smart; lack of ability to make connections with people outside their own archetype; easily dejected or thrown off-course by society
  • Qualities: Smart, self-motivated, driven to look for answers or solve problems

8. The Magician

  • Objectives: To learn and become intelligent enough to handle decision-making for themselves and for those around them
  • Goals: To have others listen to them, to be heard, to be enlightened
  • Strengths: Impressive intelligence, thorough knowledge, reasoning
  • Weaknesses: Pride and arrogance, lack of personal relationships
  • Qualities: Smart, deep thinker, able to solve complex mysteries or problems with just a little thought

9. The Artist

  • Objectives: To create something of value
  • Goals: To find meaning in their own creations, to share their creations with others
  • Strengths: Creativity, imagination, vision
  • Weaknesses: May become narrow-minded, can be too focused on their vision to see the world around them
  • Qualities: Self-motivated, driven, inventive

10. The Jester

  • Objectives: To make people happy
  • Goals: To earn laughs, to find the silver lining in situations
  • Strengths: Optimism, good comedic timing, cares about their fellow teammates
  • Weaknesses: May not take things seriously enough, can put others in harm’s way accidentally
  • Qualities: Jokester, lighthearted, easygoing; often a genuine friend to those they are close to

11. The Tomboy

  • Objectives: To be herself, regardless of what others may think
  • Goals: To have fun, to live life to its fullest
  • Strengths: Self-confidence, self-realization, not caught up in others’ opinions
  • Weaknesses: Hardheaded, stubborn, may take risks
  • Qualities: Boyish but still with a feminine flair; can be a child or an adult character, but is always female.

Conclusion

With a more solid understanding of the character archetype definition, you may be able to better understand a few things about yourself as well. Knowing which character types you lean more toward, you may be able to tell which archetypes might represent you yourself. At the very least, you can narrow down archetypes and find a few that call out to you.

On the other hand, you may also notice a trend in the types of characters you dislike, find annoying, or even completely hate. If this is true, you can examine their archetypes and see if there’s a connecting factor to give you some insight into the types of people you may want to stay away from, too.

But are these character archetypes examples really very believable? Are they realistic, or are they more likely to be found in characters than in real human beings? Are there even any actual people who fit these archetypes?

Absolutely! Archetypes in fiction come about because of archetypes that can be found in real people. These archetypes can be traced throughout history and are easy to spot when you get used to recognizing their qualities. Take your time and think about the people closest to you, as well as yourself, to see if you can determine these real-life archetypes.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH:

https://self-publishingschool.com/character-archetypes/
https://blog.reedsy.com/12-common-character-archetypes-every-writer-should-already-know/
https://screencraft.org/2018/07/09/99-archetypes-and-stock-characters-screenwriters-can-mold/

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