Oct 29, 2012

Archetypal Awareness - Water

It's actually bodies of water, but does a river count as a body of water? I'm going to go with yes because I don't know what else to call it.

There are several meanings behind water - one that comes to mind for many people is a cleansing or rebirth, in line with the Christian concept of baptism.  The character will go under water (may or may not include drowning) and come back up a new person.  
This can also happen in the crossing of the water.  If you want to go classic literature, think Huck Finn - life on the raft and on the river is serene, a recreation of the Garden of Eden almost, with the river providing everything that Huck and Jim need.  However, when they enter land, there is chaos and deception, etc.  

In Greek mythology, people had to pay to cross the River Styx in order to move on with their lives. In more modern time, it's not an accident that Harry Potter first enters Hogwarts via a boat.

The sea can represent either the transitions as mentioned above, or can be a physical representation of chaos.  Titanic takes this to a whole new level, but even before the iceberg incident, in the movie we got to see the way certain characters were transitioning.  And the chaos was forming on the boat before the iceberg as well.  

There are revelations for characters in submarines too - like a favorite of mine (in spite of the fact that the Russian Captain has a Scottish accent) is The Hunt for Red October.  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?  U-571?  There are all kinds of "water" movies where we see the transition a character experiences because of the waterly journey.  

Either the river or the sea can also symbolize a passing of time.  This is brilliantly done in Lisa Mangum's The Hourglass Door Trilogy.  The river embodies the idea that people who go to it will never be the same and the passing of time.  


Can you think of literature/movies when characters encounter water?  What changes have you seen in them before and after their H20 experience?  


13 comments :

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The Abyss comes to mind first. There were a lot of changes to the crew while they were under the sea. Of course, aliens played a part in that...

Julie Luek said...

One of my very favorite movies O Brother Where Art Thou, based on Homer's Odyssey is filled with water references carrying various meanings-- baptisms, flooding, and a host environment for the sirens.

Elaine said...

Water is an interesting paradox in lost-at-sea books like Life of Pi and Unbroken. There's water everywhere, yet characters are dehydrated for lack of fresh water. Great post, Tasha!

J. A. Bennett said...

Can't think about water without thinking about Percy Jackson. He's the son of Posiden after all. I didn't know the Harry Potter thing. thanks for the enlightenment!

S.P. Bowers said...

Both of my current books are based around water. Not only is it symbolic of rebirth, water represents life, because everyone needs it to live.

Joshua said...

Does JAWS count? Though that was less about water and more about a shark.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I know, I know!!! My books, Beyond the Gate and Beneath the Mountain both have crossing the ocean as a big transitional action on so many levels.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fellowship of the Ring. Love it when Arwen (even if it wasn't Arwen in the book) brings the river down on the Black Riders.

Lisa Regan said...

I can't think of any but I still love this post!!!! Oh wait, this is not classical literature but in one of my favorite writer, Karin Slaughter's books, the main character falls into the river and almost gets swept away and that near-death experience allows her to move on from something she was quite stuck on before that. How about that!

Angela Cothran said...

I loved Hourglass Door :) I think of HP6 and the lake filled with Inferni.

Jessie Humphries said...

Hmmm, I got nothin'. But this is terribly interesting:)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

"A River Runs Through It"...it's fishing at the river that they find peace and healing.

Cassie Mae said...

I'm brain farting. But I totally know what you mean! I love the symbolism of water in books and movies. :)