The Orphan is an archetype that represents the fear of not belonging, of being an outsider. It is often associated with childhood trauma, abuse or neglect. This archetypal trait can be seen in hero characters like Harry Potter or Batman, who are both orphans who have experienced great loss and trauma in their lives. The Orphan often leads to a pessimistic outlook on life, as these characters have often been through a lot of pain and suffering.
The orphan is one that is often seen in stories and films. It is the story of the child who is alone in the world, without parents or family. This can be due to them being orphaned children, or it can be because they are different from everyone else and so they are rejected by society. The orphan often leads to the character becoming a rebel, as they have no authority figures in their life to tell them what to do. They are also often very extraordinary, as they have had to fend for themselves from a young age. This can make them pessimistic about the world, as they have seen the worst of it. However, it can also inspire them to fight for justice, as they have seen firsthand the injustice that exists in the world. The orphan shows us that even if we are alone in the world, we can still make a difference. It is an archetype that is often used in stories to inspire us and to show us that even if we come from nothing, we can still achieve great things, and find acceptance.
The Orphan archetype, by this name, is not one of Jung’s original 12 archetypes. However, it can be connected to both the Child and the Everyman, both of which are part of Jung’s archetype outline. Therefore, it is related to these original twelve, even if it is not specifically one of them.
In this article, you’ll find out more information about the Orphan archetype and learn how it pertains to your life, the people around you, and the characters you love.
Read through the section below to better understand the Orphan archetype. You may be surprised to find that you exhibit traits of this archetype, even if you aren’t a literal orphan yourself.
- In some instances, the Orphan is likened to the Everyman or Ordinary Person archetype. This is because there is some Orphan in all of us, and the themes and expressions that are present within the Orphan archetype can be found in every human in some capacity.
- In other instances, the Orphan is more closely linked to the Child archetype. This is due to very similar concepts—we all have some of the Child within us, and for many, that Child is an Orphan variant.
- Since there is so much crossover between both the Ordinary Person and the Child archetypes, the Orphan can be considered its own separate archetype that nevertheless fits into both of these as variants.
- The ultimate objective of the Orphan is to become capable of taking care of themselves. They must overcome significant struggle in order to learn the skills required to make this happen, and there may be many times in which they think they are going to fail. They may go through much of their journey completely alone, only to realize in the end that they only need themselves and are strong enough to go it alone.
- A unique desire of the Orphan archetype is to find others who are like them. Orphans look for a sense of belonging, because they lost it in their own lives long ago. They seek out those who share their experiences, beliefs, or lifestyles in order to find a new “home.”
- Orphans desperately want to find a place where they feel safe and protected. They don’t mind contributing to the safety and protection of a group, if it means everyone can be equally and adequately cared for.
- The Orphan often simply wants to survive, and to keep carrying on until they can find a place to feel comfortable settling down.
- One of the Orphan’s goals is to avoid anyone or anything they deem “bad.” This is relative, of course, to the Orphan in question. However, most concepts of what is “bad” versus what is “good” in an Orphan’s life revolve around the experiences that led them to become an Orphan in the first place.
- The Orphan may strive with all they can to keep their sense of normalcy intact, especially when they have found a place where they feel they belong. If something comes along to potentially disrupt that, they may become defensive quickly.
- Orphans are good at inciting other people to join their cause. They may be able to convince others to side with them, even without really trying, simply because they are relatable.
- Orphans are generally kind and compassionate because they understand what it means to live without kindness. They don’t like to see others suffering, so they go out of their way to keep that from happening—especially to those they are close to.
- Most Orphans have a realistic worldview that doesn’t swing too far toward the negative or to the positive. They are neutral, but their neutrality is one of their strongest attributes.
- Orphans who desperately want to find a place to belong may quickly lose sight of who they really are. They may have no sense of Self and may be unable to allow their true personalities to shine through.
- Since the Orphan doesn’t want to lose the people who make them feel like they belong, they can quickly become clingy. They may overdo it when it comes to pleasing those they care about.
- It’s easy for the Orphan to swing too far to the negative when it comes to their worldview. They may begin to think everyone else is out to get them.
- The Orphan archetype values safety and security, and will do whatever it takes to find them.
- If the Orphan finds a sense of belonging with a person, such as in a romantic relationship, they will commit themselves fully to that person and to making sure it works out.
- The Orphan may be distrusting because of the struggles they’ve been through, and they may especially have trouble believing or accepting what is told to them by authority figures.
- The Orphan believes that good comes from being an active part of a group.
Do you feel like you understand the Orphan archetype a little bit better? This archetype isn’t quite what it sounds like, although literal orphans do fit into the category as well. There’s something a little deeper and more metaphorical about the Orphan archetype, however, that is easy to see when you take time to consider your own life and experiences from this perspective.
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Consider these examples of the Orphan archetype as you continue your studies:
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- Huckleberry Finn: Huckleberry Finn has a father, but he is abusive and cruel toward Huck. Therefore, Huck’s Orphan status isn’t literal, but it leaves him drifting on the edges of society, not really belonging.
- Harry Potter: Harry is a literal orphan as well as an Orphan archetype. He is relatable in his desire to find friends and a home where he can be safe and belong.
- Annie of Little Orphan Annie: A literal orphan, Annie was separated from her biological parents and is often separated from her adoptive father figure as well. Despite this, she moves forward and relies on her relationships to get her through her struggles.
- Luke Skywalker of Star Wars: Luke wants to find a purpose in his life, and he knows there’s something bigger out there for him. As a literal and metaphorical Orphan, Luke is kind, gentle, and hopes to find his place in the world.
- Tarzan: Tarzan is also a literal Orphan. As soon as he realizes there could be a place for him, he is driven by a need to find it.
Remember that all of us has some Orphan inside of our psyche. Some people are able to reconcile their experiences much more fully and can, therefore, “absorb” the Orphan in themselves. Others, however, are fueled by the sorrow that comes from being an Orphan and the deep, desperate desire to fit in and belong that drives this archetype. Wherever you fall on the Orphan archetype spectrum, it’s good to identify how this label relates to you and whether or not it provides any qualities you’d like to focus on in your life moving forward.