Jul 2, 2012

Archetypal Awareness - The Hero

I guess the best way to start this series is with the main character that shows up the most often in archetypes - the hero.  Now this hero doesn't have to wear tights, save people in a single bound or even fight a villain.

This is going to take some participation, so before reading think of a main character - movie, book, your own WIP, and check off the list as we go through (if you need some ideas think Star Wars, Harry Potter, fairy tales, Pride and Prejudice, any comic book hero, etc.).

A hero is someone who heeds the call to do something, often something they don't want to do. They put their own desired aside, if even just a bit, to take upon themselves the role this call is going to require. Very, very often, this means they leave their own family - their home - and live with others.  During this time, they often gain a greater perspective of their own life and the world around them.


A hero often has a wound - a scar even - that cannot heal.  This does not have to be physical, and in contemporary literature, it's often more mental and emotional than physical. Along with this generally is a traumatic event that will catapult them into their call.  This can be a death of a loved one, but doesn't have to be - the disruption of social status, expectations, loss of trust can serve this purpose as well.

A hero has a special weapon.  In magical and supernatural settings, this will be a weapon only they can yield, but in contemporary times, it can be a wit, wisdom, perspective, etc.

A hero will start to prove themselves in some way as they work to answer the call that they initially started out on - win a small battle, show more inner strength than they thought they had, rise to the challenge issued when they doubted.

A hero also will make amends, restitution even, for something they have done wrong or something their ancestors did wrong.  While the hero generally can't right all the wrongs, he/she can set the path to let the healing and redemption begin.

Some of my favorite archetypal heroes are William Wallace, Simba, Elizabeth Bennett, Belle (Beauty and the Beast) and Val Jean.

Who are some of your favorite archetypal heroes?  Where there more than you realized?  Have you been writing this archetype?  Did you know it?

10 comments :

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post. My brain is still asleep so I can't think of any, besides the ones you've got listed.

Miranda Hardy said...

Elizabeth Bennett is one of my favorites, too. I think many women can relate to her.

Matthew MacNish said...

I love a story like Lord of the Rings, because there are so many heroes, and you can't really say whether one does more to save the world than another.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Great post and so interesting to read.

Yvonne.

nutschell said...

great post. I do love learning about the different archetypes ( i wrote a few posts on archetypes as well in my blog:)) Harry Potter still has to be my favorite archetypal hero.
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Richard Rahl in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is one of my favorite heroes.

deathwriter said...

This post had me with a photo of Viggo:)
I like unlikely heroes. When I was in grad school, we watched the movie "Almost Famous" and plotted the heroic journey for the geeky wannabe rock writer.

Kristin Baker said...

Oh, fun! I was going "check..check...check" with my main character in my WIP as I was reading through this post. The only thing that doesn't apply to her is restitution, unless you count her picking up where her father left off in his business, after he went missing and she discovered the truth...

Alleged Author said...

Percy Jackson comes to mind for me, especially in the last part of the list. :)

Morgan said...

Val Jean is the ULTIMATE hero!!!!! I also love the Count de Monte Cristo... although, he's a bit off the beaten path, LOL...