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Archetypal Literary Criticism Essay

1762 words - 7 pages

In Literary Criticism, there is an idea that believes that Archetypes make up literature’s meaning. The concept of Archetypes in literature has been the subject of extensive examination in Literary Criticism. “Criticism can be broken down into two broad categories: evaluative and interpretive” (Gardner 1287). The criticism is based on Literary Theory, which is composed of ideas that help interpret, and analyze literature. Everything in literature has a meaning, and many different people came up with strategies to evaluate and interpret it. The use of Archetypes in Literary Criticism helped critics to interpret a text, and find its hidden meaning. In Archetypal Literary Criticism, archetypes hold the idea that cultures, folk- tales, and common mythical beings all play a role in a text’s significance.
Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst, came up with the idea of archetypes while studying the human psyche, and interpreting dreams. Jung was born in Kesswil, Switzerland on July 26, 1875. In the beginning of his studies, Jung collaborated with Sigmund Freud, the creator of psychoanalysis, and they both analyzed the language in dreams, which are basically just symbols. Jung claimed that behind symbols lie archetypes. “We meet dragons, helpful animals, and demons; also the Wise Old Man, the animal-man, the wishing tree, the hidden treasure, the well, the cave, the walled garden, the processes and substances of transformation in alchemy, and so forth-all things which in no way touch the banalities of everyday. The reason for this is that they have to do with the realization of a part of the personality which has not yet come to existence but is still in the process of becoming”(Jung 467). Archetypes represent practically
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any symbol, and are usually influenced by cultural and mythological characters. Jung’s discovery of archetypes was studied by many people, and the notion has been used for interpreting other different things besides personality, or dreams.
There are many different kinds of archetypes, and they can be divided into two parts: the anima and animus. The anima focuses on female archetypes, while the animus focuses on male
archetypes. According to Jung, the “shadows” of an archetype are a hidden personality trait. For example, masculine characters, like a warrior, indicate a physical trait and its shadow has an aggressive nature (Munafo 1). A feminine archetype, such as a maiden, indicates a physical trait and co-dependent shadow (Munafo 1). Archetypes are seen in all kinds of stories, and they usually have the same meaning. They help to understand personalities more, which can also help interpret the meaning of a text through the characters.
The archetype of a hero is the most common. It is seen in mostly all cultures, and a hero is an animus. In a story there is always a conflict, and then some sort of “hero” can come up to ease the conflict. “The archetype tells the writer about the most basic instincts of...

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