Archetypes: Defined and Explained with Examples Essay Sample

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Courageous feats against evil, self-sacrificial acts for justice, and invincible God-given stamina which happens to accompany a chiseled robust frame that contours the perfect shadow in any light devises a common image. This recurring concept of the undaunted hero is archetypal; these symbols represent things that have been experienced throughout human existence. They are continuously used by writers and artists, meaning that the fundamental concept is transferred, making archetypal language a part of the everyday world. The daily lives of people are immersed in these symbols and ideas, leaving most unrecognizable. It is explained in a pattern Carl Jung calls the collective unconscious. Blogger Sandra Busby states that Jung compares humans to fish in the ocean; just as we breathe the air of our atmosphere, fish swim in the water. We are so frequently consumed in it, we don’t even know it’s there. Archetypes are everywhere, unconsciously absorbed energy patterns that are used to move humans along to grow and evolve. Due to different cultures and languages, heroes can be conceived in countless ways. The basic idea has been the same since the beginning of time: a hero represents a protector and savior. To achieve the status of ultimate defender the Monomyth Process must be endured.

According to a reference on wikipedia, Joseph Campbell explains the process in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949); he refers to it as “the hero’s journey.” Hercules from the Disney movie Hercules endures this exact journey throughout the movie. In a monomyth, a call is received to enter another world; this world consists of tasks and trials that must be accepted (Doner 8/20). In most cases the hero must survive a severe challenge; if the hero survives a gift is granted. The hero then has to decide whether or not to return to the ordinary world with the gift or to stay. If the hero decides to go, endeavors are most often faced along the way back. Hercules goes through all five stages of the monomyth, beginning with his departure from the heavens onto earth. Hercules doesn’t fit in, being one of Hercules’challegenges, and he struggles with the realization because he doesn’t understand why. Through his stepmother on earth, Hercules finds out that his true father is Zeus and he leaves to find him. Hercules’s journey to the temple to find Zeus is his first monomyth. Once he reaches the temple he is told that he is to do something of a heroic nature, which will then lead him to become a god again.

To achieve this, Hercules must first find someone named Phil. Phil is a trainer of the Heroes, which leads Hercules into the second stage; initiation. His official initiation begins when he accepts his training with Phil, he then transitions into the third stage. During The Road of Trials Hercules proves his heroism through small victories, like killing a multi headed beast. Hercules has not yet proven his ultimate act of heroism; to achieve it he must enter The Innermost Cave, the fourth stage. His ultimate challenge is to defeat the Titans, and at the same time he must risk his life to save Meg’s soul from the underworld. Hercules becomes a true hero by nature through the accomplishment of these challenges. Once the ultimate challenge was defeated Hercules then entered the fifth step of the monomyth process; Return and Reintegration with Society. Instead of going back to the heavens Hercules decides to remain on earth with the one he loves, Meg. Meg is an Archetype of Transformation. There is always an ending of one phase which then develops and grows into another phase. By undergoing these transitions the inner soul becomes open and then true self is revealed.

Meg commences as a follower to the evil figure, Hades. Even though Meg’s association with Hades is against her will she is categorized as a warrior maiden, a destroyer. When Meg is told to find Hercules’s ultimate weakness, transitioning her into the role of a temptress, Hercules somehow reaches through her and he reveals his true intentions. Rather than being ruled and manipulated through Hades, Meg falls in love with Hercules. Due to Hercules’s pure heart, her genuine decency shines through as well. Meg immediately becomes the vulnerable female character, the sleeping virgin, when Hades finds out that Hercules’s true weakness is his love for her. Hercules and Megs’ love for each other is one of the most recurring archetypical leitmotifs there is. It occurs in every Disney movie; from Cinderella to the Princess Frog. Not only does if appear through these children’s movies, it has been a recurring theme since the times of Greek mythology. There is a trace of love in every other movie, TV show, book, and music society provides.

People are most familiar with the term being used, “falling in love,” and it is bound to happen to everyone. Love is linked with our collective unconscious; therefore it is linked though the energy patterns that we use through our life experiences to revolutionize and grow. Jung believes that we will never be able to understand our “other” without getting our hearts broken. “The other” is our soul mate; only through this other person can we achieve ultimate peace and happiness. Through our evolution; we must fall in love, get our hearts broken, and then only through the experience will we have the wisdom to find our other half. Carl Jung concludes that his theory of archetypes explains that the ideas we come to possess are originated from other people’s experiences and are then presented in the subconscious of the individual. It is not only through myths and fairy tales that we acquire archetypes; they appear in our everyday lives.

These symbols are imbedded inside of people’s personalities. Time and culture changes though, so the images that used to mean certain things are not as relevant to the present understanding. Jane Cicchetti, the author of Dreams, Symbols, and Homeopathy, notes that it is our task to understand these symbols as they change. Each age has its own challenges and it is up to the new age to overcome them. Some images, no matter the century, seem to remain constant though. The fearless battles, selfless acts, and inhumanly strength that seems as if the gods themselves granted it is a timeless description that will at most times naturally begets the image of a hero.

Works Cited

“Archetypes: Defined and Explained with Examples.” hubpages. HubPages Inc., 23 Jun 2013. Web. 23 Sep 2012. <>. Doner, Valerie. “great mother/ Spiritual father.” Bishop Kenny High School, room: 602. 16, Aug 2012. Doner, Valerie. “mandala and transformation archetypes” Bishop Kenny High School, room: 602. 20, Aug 2012 “Mythology and Archetypes.” Blogspot. Blogspot, 03 Apr 2011. Web. 23 Sep 2012. <>.

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