Jul 30, 2012

Archetypal Awareness - The Forest

First, Laura is critiquing my blog today.  She always has some really great info and I look forward to what I can do to make my blog better.  I imagine some changes will be taking place - jump over here and see what she has to say.

Take a minute and think about some nursery rhymes - Goldilocks, Little Red Ridinghood, Hansel and Gretel.  Every single one of them go into a forest, and every single one of them come out changed beyond the ability to reconcile.  This isn't on accident.
The forest is one of the most prevalent setting archetypes in literature. All literature.

Harry Potter goes to the forest how many times? (Cassie actually probably knows). Each time he enters, he learns something that will change the way he perceives his world.

Frodo goes into the forest and will never be able to be the same again.

Tangled presents the forest in two ways - Rapunzel leaves her tower into the forest and will never be the same and so does Flynn Rider when he goes into the forest and discovers the tower.

When Luke Skywalker goes into the forest while training with Yoda,  he has a realization that he only begins to understand.

Think about the recent Batman trilogy.  When does Bruce Wayne really gain focus on something - anything?  When he starts his training in a forest.

But a forest doesn't always have to be a forest - sometimes it is a desert (Ironman), a cave (Goonies), a different planet (Avatar) or even a ball (Cinderella).  It is often depicted as a place that people shouldn't go into (Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, 1984, Variant, Matched, Uglies) because it is unknown, unpredictable and favorite element of dystopias.

In its very basest form, the forest is a symbol of the unconscious, what our character learns when placed in a primitive or unknown situation.  The education that is received allows our character to both understand his/her purpose better and to understand themselves better.  The character re-prioritizes, sees the world in a different life and often understands what the quest is in spite of what people tell them it is.

I could go on and on about forests (my poor students get variations of this lecture for a whole school year!).

What is your favorite forest in literature?  Can you think of a time when a character experiences the change of a forest but enters a different setting?

15 comments :

Jess Stork said...

I love this post! It really made me think. It reminded me of the reimagining of The Jungle Book, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. Bode becomes an independent young man through being raised by ghosts and a vampire.

Kelley Lynn said...

I really like the 'forests' in LoTR. I actually have one in my book as well. Great post!

Tara Tyler said...

love your thoughts on how a forest changes the perspective in scene and revelation!

Michelle Gregory said...

hmmm, 2 pairs of my characters met in a forest. i didn't even think about it. and i'm going to live in a forest of sorts. it's very dark and mysterious on the back of my new property, and inspires all kinds of ideas.

Jessie Humphries said...

I wish I had you for a teacher! I should move to Cedar and retake High School. What? It wouldnt be weird!

Emily R. King said...

Intriguing. Truly. Hmm, I think my favorite forest book is The Princess Bride. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought about it like that, but you're right.

Angela Cothran said...

I have a forest in my MS, but I didn't know I was being all archetypal :) My favorite would have to be HP.

Sarah Allen said...

I hadn't thought about it that way, but its true! Very awesome. I'll have to think about setting more in this way. I think it could make things more exciting.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Lisa Regan said...

Why does Young Goodman Brown immediately come to mind? This is an AWESOME post!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most enjoyable post to read.

Yvonne.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow, this so fits my current WIP but my forest is a desert.

Nicole said...

Yup, love the forest imagery! You've got some great examples here.

elizabeth seckman said...

Well, I can honestly say...I would have loved your class! Nothing more fun than dissecting literature. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Ha! Such a good point! I hadn't thought about that at all.... but my character totally goes through the woods. Twice. Right after the call to action, and at the climax.

Great post!