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Archetypal Character

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"It may seem redundant at first as strictly speaking an archetype is simply an example of something, in short, every trope is a story archetype. However, here we are using the term about a concept in Jungian Psychology of the same name."

An Archetypal Character is a character who appears over and over in legends far and wide, even in cultures that have shut themselves off from the world; in other words, a Universal Character. The blood-drinking risen dead are an Archetype as almost every culture has come up with their legends independent of each other. Angel is an archetype: the tragic hero trying to overcome the evils of their past. Trickster God Coyote is an archetype. Xena is an archetype. Any of these may be disguised as a Space Alien. Some characters combine aspects of various archetypes to form more complex characterizations, like a being The Hero and The Trickster, or a combination of two opposing archetypes.

Some lit-theories classify archetypes by the role/purpose the character inhabits for the story. These classes are: Protagonist, Antagonist, Reason, Emotion, Sidekick, Skeptic, Guardian, and Contagonist.

A related concept is the 'ectype', a distorted or flawed version of the archetype. For example, Batman is archetypal. He's a rich man who dedicates himself to anonymously fighting crime (protecting society) with a variety of gadgets. Many of the characters in Watchmen are ectypes based on this archetype.

See also Stock Characters and Deconstructed Character Archetype.


Alternative Title(s): Character Archetype