What are the female archetypes?
Can these archetypes ever be used for men or male characters, or are they for women only?
How are feminine archetypes represented in the world and society today?
Female archetypes are any archetype that can be applied to characters or real people and has some feminine quality about it. These may include overtly feminine labels (such as Mother), or they may be variants on other archetypes that have a female twist (like the Huntress).
These archetypes can be found throughout history, mythology, literature, film, and even in modern society. And although they are labeled as feminine, they are not specific to women only. It is entirely possible for men and male characters to showcase or even fully embody a female archetype, depending on their character, psyche, personality, and sense of Self.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of the female archetype by diving into some examples. With this information, you can better determine if any of the female archetypes apply to you—or, on the other hand, if you need to work on some of these areas and boost the feminine energies in your life a bit more.
The Female Archetypes
There are many archetypes that can be considered feminine or female in nature, and even masculine or neutral archetypes can have feminine variants. However, this short list will give you a quick but thorough idea of what makes up the feminine in the world of archetypes.
Option #1. Maiden
- The Maiden is innocent, youthful, and searching for a definition for herself. This archetype is rarely a permanent one in characters or in real-life people, but it is often the first phase of the female archetype after a Child grows up a little bit. Maidens may have an idealized concept of love and family, and they may be waiting for a lover to come and sweep them off their feet. When this happens, they will then shift into the second phase, which is the Lover archetype.
Option #2. Lover
- The Lover is sexual, sensual, and energetic. She wants to fall in love and she wants a lasting and meaningful relationship out of it, too. She may have a desire for sex, but she doesn’t have to; the Lover can also have a desire to create and to make life, which would eventually propel her into the realm of the Mother archetype instead. The Lover is often considered a step on the path to womanhood, between Maiden and Mother.
Option #3. Mother
- The Mother is the archetype that follows the Maiden and the Lover. When a woman has grown and has found someone to love, she eventually become a Mother. Of course, this is not the only way this archetype presents itself, and in some instances, fictional and real-life Mothers don’t actually have any children of their own. This is an archetype of protection, nurturing, caring, compassion, and generosity. The Mother creates, and she is something like a cross between the Caregiver and Creator archetypes outlined in Carl Jung’s original list of twelve. This archetype has several variants within it.
Option #4. Huntress
- This archetype represents the independence that goes along with femininity. Think of the Huntress as a career-minded woman who cares about her goals and achievements in life. She wants to protect her own sense of identity, and does so by using her skill. At the same time, she may also reach out to try to protect and defend other women who are in the same situation she once found herself in. The Huntress is a protector and a caregiver at the same time that she is a leader and a warrior.
Option #5. Sage/Mystic
- This archetype cares about knowledge above all else. She wants to discover and learn, but she also wants to share her knowledge and information with those around her. She may guide the Hero on their journey, or she may simply provide clues to help another character in the story come to the right conclusions. She is often also a Mentor.
Option #6. Queen
- The Queen may also be the Goddess, depending on the context. This archetype is the feminine take on the Ruler and the counterpart to the King. She is strong and sturdy, both emotionally and physically, and she can handle just about anything the world might throw at her. The Queen wants to be in control, but a good Queen will do so in a way that is also nurturing, protective, and kind. A Shadow Queen, however, is angry, violent, and vicious, especially toward other women. It is unfortunately easy for a positive Queen to become a Shadow Queen when she is given power.
Option #7. Crone/Wise Woman
- Last but not least, the Crone or Wise Woman archetype is the eventual culmination of the path of womanhood. The female archetypes shift from Child to Maiden, then to Lover, then to Mother, and eventually to Queen. From there, when a woman ages and when she has had many life experiences to share with those around her, she becomes a Wise Woman or a Crone. This is like the Wise Old Man archetype, including the mentorship, guidance, advice, and care that comes along with it. Of course, some women who fit into this archetype may also come off as silly or strange, and this may shift them more into the Crone identity than the Wise Old Woman. In both instances, however, they are there to help and give answers.
When you understand the female archetypes, you can determine which may be strong in you. You may also be able to narrow down archetypes that are weak in your own psyche, and consider whether or not you want to work on expanding or exploring them further. These archetypes can help any individual become more well-balanced and reach a higher sense of Self.
Consider these examples to help you understand the female archetypes discussed above:
- Maiden: Snow White. She is innocent and weak, but compassionate and loving.
- Lover: Rose DeWitt in Titanic. She is a romantic, she is passionate, and she is driven by her love and desire for a relationship.
- Mother: Elastigirl in The Incredibles. She’s a strong Mother who cares for her children and does everything it takes to defend and protect them.
- Huntress: Artemis. This goddess of the hunt was also associated with chaste relationships, balancing the often masculine concept of hunting with her feminine qualities.
- Sage: Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle in Time. Serving as a mentor and guide to the main characters of the story, Mrs. Whatsit always seems to know what advice to offer them.
- Queen: Arwen in The Lord of the Rings. She is noble, wise, and capable of uniting the kingdom.
- Crone: Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle. Although Sophie embodies the Maiden, the Lover, and the Crone throughout her story, her time as the Crone showcases her character and its development as she moves toward becoming the woman she is meant to be.
When you have solid examples from fictional sources to help you, it can become even easier to understand and pinpoint these female archetypes. Of course, archetypes are prevalent throughout literature, movies, and mythology, so finding fictional representation of these archetypes is not difficult. Do some of your favorite characters fit into the female archetypes discussed in this article? If so, which ones, and how do they relate to your life?