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Studio Card #4

Carl Jung's Character Archetypes
What This Studio Card production features Carl Jung’s Archetypes of the Unconscious Mind. This Studio Card sets forth the 12 primary character archetypes.
When These 12 character archetypes can be used by participating youth for their own independent collaborations, just as they have been used by others throughout the course of time, from the ancient Greek plays to modern day Star Wars trilogies.
Who These character archetypes are important to understand because unlike character stereotypes, which are superficial generic generalizations, archetypes are said to have been deduced through the development of storytelling over tens of thousands of years, indicating repeating patterns of individual and group experience.
Why Character Archetypes can help one gain a better understanding and development of literary characters and stories for not only our Made Collaborative comic publications, but also independent collaborations of any participating youth and others.

Quick Introduction

Sometimes dreams are bizarre. Some dreams are scary. Others are downright silly. Most of the time, your dreams don’t have anything to say that is especially deep or profound. They simply echo your everyday experiences.

But Dr. Carl Gustav Jung was a 20th-century Swiss psychologist who thought that dreams had something more to tell us. He explored the hidden and mysterious aspects of the mind and found that some dreams are energized by timeless motifs that have echoes in art, poetry and music throughout all human existence. These dreams may hold intriguing new insights into life and the world, Jung believed, because they come from the “collective unconscious.”

The collective unconscious is bigger and more fundamental than the mind of any single individual; it is the profound and timeless wisdom that all humans share. But, because our waking minds aren’t able to directly communicate with the collective unconscious, it will sometimes send us unexpected signs and signals in our dreams.

When you decode the images in these important dreams you may find yourself the beneficiary of some new or hidden knowledge. In the classic cases of these instances, prophetic dreamers will receive esoteric knowledge that can help their community through a coming crisis.

With this Source Card production, we will provide you an overview of each of the 12 primary character archetypes, starting with The Hero. 

 

The Hero

Motto:
“I will achieve my goal.”
The Hero is the one the story is usually about. Some modern narratives have attempted to subvert this eternal expectation by featuring a villain or even side characters as the story’s main character. But even these “exceptions” must embrace a protagonist, and, practically speaking, a protagonist and the “Hero” are pretty much the same things. The Hero is the central figure of the story’s action and drama. The Hero has a problem to solve, or (very often) many problems. We will learn about the “Hero’s Journey” in the coming collaborations. 
The Hero’s Journey describes the different stages a Hero must be initiated through to achieve his or her ultimate goal. Heroes are easy to find in the stories and media you regularly consume, from superhero summer blockbusters featuring Marvel’s Avengers to more realistic dramas, like Selma, about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. Heroes are the classic initiators of change in both history and mythology. The Hero transforms their world and will usually go through a personal transformation, as well.
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The Mentor

Motto:
“I will guide and teach.”
The Mentor fulfills a very important role in the story (and in real life, for that matter). A Mentor is a wise old teacher or a guide whom many aspiring Heroes first encounter early in their journey, right before they cross the foreboding threshold into a strange new world of adventure. The Mentor provides motivation, insights and training to help the Hero overcome his or her doubts and fears. The Mentor prepares the Hero for the dangerous road ahead. The Hero may learn a new skill from his or her Mentor, or receive a magical gift. 
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda were both mentors to Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars Trilogy. Obi-Wan gave Luke his lightsabre and taught him how to use it. Later, Yoda teaches Luke how to further develop his mystical connection to the force. The Mentor role can change as the needs of the story and the characters change. The Mentor may have once been a Hero in another time or context. For instance, in many Marvel movies, Tony Stark (Iron Man) is Peter Parker’s (Spider-Man) Mentor, but Tony is also the Hero and protagonist in many Avengers movies.
Play Video

The Ruler

Motto:
“I will achieve my goal.”

The Ruler is also known as the King, the Queen, the Guardian, the Politician, etc. All of the archetypes go by many names because the simple and intuitive roles they describe belie significant complexity. Like real people, the archetypes of the unconscious contain both light and dark energy.

At their best, a Ruler provides structure and protection against the creeping threat of chaos and anarchy. But when does one’s quest for power make him or her a tyrant? At their worst, the Ruler’s “structure” is simply a prison. So you see that the Ruler especially, along with all the archetypes of the unconscious, has both good and bad aspects to them. Whichever aspects of the Ruler are manifest in a given story or situation depends a lot on context and the character that happens to be inhabiting the Ruler role at the time. 

Much of the resistance the Hero first encounters when they leave the familiar behind frequently comes in the form of institutional “red tape,” close-minded laws or irrational traditions. In fact, as part of their initial heroic baptism, the Hero might find his or herself having to take a stand against a corrupt Ruler, government or philosophy that defines the boundaries of the Ordinary World. 

In this way, Robin Hood classically combats the tyrannical Sheriff of Nottingham when the dashing archer and his Merrie Men rob from the rich and give to the poor on their quest to undermine the political and economic inequalities of their day. King Arthur, on the other hand, eventually became the Ruler as part of his Heroic Journey. A big theme of the Arthurian legends was Arthur’s quest to unite the feuding powers of medieval Britain to create a peaceful and stable homeland for his people. In some stories, the Hero rises to become Ruler but is eventually corrupted by that power. 

Play Video

The Explorer

Motto:
“What's That Over There?”

The Explorer wants to see the world! If every story is a journey of some sort, the Explorer embodies the willingness—nay, the eagerness—to seek the novel, the exotic and the intriguingly unfamiliar.

In life, dreams and in stories, characters are constantly changing roles, archetypes are always exchanging masks. If the Hero crosses paths with the Explorer, the Explorer may provide the Hero with some helpful information from the wider world, thus becoming a Mentor and guide. The Explorer’s wanderlust may be what sends him or her on a journey in the first place, across the threshold of adventure; thus the Explorer may become a Hero, in some cases. On the other hand, the lonely life of the Explorer may make them a permanent misfit, never at home wherever he goes. This makes the Explorer quite different than a Hero, depending on your perspective, because heroes are usually a champion of a particular community. 

In 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first human being to ever set foot on the moon. He eventually returned, of course. But, in that “one small step” he took onto the cold and distant lunar surface, he embodied the spirit of the Explorer for the 20th century. 

Renowned Explorer - Matthew Hanson (Click on the Image to Learn More)

The Dreamer

Motto:
“I have the faith of a child.”

All of us were innocent Dreamers once. As we learn the ways of the world and become wiser, there is something that is lost, too. 

The Dreamer experiences the world as we all did when we were wide-eyed children, when everything was still charged by the electric fairy dust of imagination. The Dreamer believes in a world beyond the one we can see. To some, these innocent young cherubs might seem very detached from the real world. The Dreamer can be incredibly naive. However, they do serve to constantly remind us (and possibly remind the Hero, as well) that paradise awaits at the end of the Journey when our present struggles have reached their conclusion. 

Even if their childish aphorisms are ultimately untrue, they’re worth fighting for. So, the Dreamer often reminds the Hero what he or she is fighting for. The Dreamer can be a focal point for all the transformative potential that transcends the restrictive structures of the Ordinary World, making them the stewards of some very potent energies, indeed. 

The adorable and innocent Baby Yoda character from the Mandalorian show is a good example of a Dreamer character. The show’s rugged protagonist fights to defend the green infant who unwittingly commands the powerful force.  And yet another Dreamer is a man named Tucker …

Play Video

The Rebel

Nelson Mandela
Motto:
“Rules are for fools.”

The rebel wants to change the world by tearing down the status quo. Many of the other archetypes have a strained relationship with “the ordinary world” that often sets the scene for dramatic changes and amazing journeys later in the story: the Hero, the Creator, the Explorer, etc. What distinguishes the Rebel from similar archetypes is his or her fiery passion for immediate change and their willingness to engage in disruptive, even destructive behavior in order to achieve their goals.

Whether you view a Rebel character as either good or evil depends a lot on your perspective—one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Many criminals engage in Rebel-like behavior when they break the law to advance their own agenda. Entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, have a rebellious streak in them too, because they defy expectations and subvert conventions that would otherwise restrict innovation and creativity in their industry—that’s why Apple’s slogan is “Think Different.”

Civil rights leaders and activists must all be Rebels, too, because they are trying to topple the established structures of institutional racism.   


Play Video

The Magician

Motto:
“I will manifest my own destiny”

The Magician is the master of the universe. He or she is sometimes depicted with the forces of nature bending to their will. Also known as the Wizard, the Visionary or the Healer, we see these Shaman characters in fiction and in real life. 

The founders of the great Silicon Valley tech giants are often spoken of in the same terms as Wizards and Magicians—they imagined a different way of doing things and, using the mastery over occult forces (computer technology, in this case) they made those dreams a physical reality. Today, we are truly living in a world that was first dreamt of by Steve Jobs and the Google brain trust. 

In fantasy stories, like the Lord of the Rings, the Magician role is inhabited by a literal Wizard. Gandalf guides the journeys of his hobbit allies, also taking on the role of Mentor, on occasion. Some see the Magician as the inevitable conclusion of the Hero’s Journey, a journey which we’ll discuss in detail later. As the Hero is transformed through his or her trials of initiation, they transcend the boundaries of crude duality and basic conflict. 

Unlike the Hero, the Magician’s will is in accord with the will of the greater universe, and so they seek win-win solutions that dissolve differences rather than getting bound up in all that antagonistic tension. The Magician is sometimes the Hero’s shadow companion, using their unique talents to support the Hero’s crusade, as Merlin did with King Arthur.

The Trickster

Motto:
"Why so serious?”

There is a great tradition of comedy in American culture. We celebrate the Trickster because of his ability to speak truth to power and to turn expectations on their head. Also known as the Jester, the Joker, the Comedian or the Disruptor, this character does more than make us laugh. 

The Trickster brashly points out the unseen absurdities that govern all our lives. These absurdities are unseen because most “normal folks” are either unable or unwilling to acknowledge any incongruities in their boring existence until the Trickster’s cutting quips make them impossible to ignore. The classic observational comedy of Jerry Seinfeld is so fondly remembered for taking the mundane silliness of day-to-day life—things like airplane peanuts, searching for parking and going to a restaurant—and presenting them in a humorous way that makes us see the preposterous assumptions we make all the time. Comedians like Richard Prior and Dave Chapelle spotlight institutional racial injustices in a similar way. They challenged the invisible and unspeakable mechanisms of racism operating in every aspect of our society by making them look stupid (which they are). 

With their ability to help others see beyond the various veils of illusion, the Trickster often provides welcome “comic relief” in many movies and TV shows. They are the goofy friend or sidekick who release the pent-up tension of the pulse-pounding action and heart-rending drama with a few well-timed jokes. Trickster-Heroes like Deadpool use humor to outwit their opponents and confuse their rivals. Trickster-Villains like the Joker are a colorful contrast to absolute, black and white, law and order represented by Batman’s single-minded quest for vengeance.

Play Video

The Sidekick

Motto:
“I am at at my best when I'm with you.”

The “Sidekick” archetype is traditionally known as “the Lover,” but the “love” alluded to in this role can encompass many varieties of companionship. The Lover may literally be an intimate associate of the Hero, like a spouse or romantic partner. This role may also be inhabited by a dear friend or close associate to the protagonist. 

Robin is Batman’s Sidekick because they fight crime together. They share a mutual affection, admiration and respect for one another along with whatever professional bonds they’ve developed in the course of their superhero duties. The classic love shared between Romeo and Juliet certainly fulfills our expectations of the Lover role more closely. Even though it was forbidden by their feuding families, Romeo and Juliet’s flaming passion continued to develop until the two could not live without each other. They chose to squelch their own lives rather than live without each other. 

And therein lies the weakness of the Sidekick archetype. At his or her best, the Sidekick supports the Hero through the inevitable trials of the Journey. At their worst, the Sidekick can develop a self-destructive codependency as a result of their attachment to the Hero.

Play Video

The Caregiver

Motto:
“I will take care of you.”

The Caregiver can be a parent or an especially caring mother figure or father figure. More than a mere teacher (as the Mentor is), the Caregiver is a source of unconditional love and support. As such, the Caregiver often plays a vital role in the emotional stakes of a story. They personify the warm, loving feelings that are associated with home, which can motivate the Hero and in the last, most difficult steps of his or her Journey. 

The untimely passing of a Caregiver also lends energy to the narrative and may become a memorable inflection point in the development of a particular character. Batman and Spider-Man both lost important Caregivers as part of their tragic origin stories.

When taken to a dark extreme, the Caregiver role can become distorted into an overbearing, tyrannical figure that stands as an obstacle in the path of the Hero’s personal development. Who can forget when Darth Vader uttered the memorable words “I am your father” at the surprise ending of Return of the Jedi? In that moment, Vader became more than just a political adversary to the young Jedi, Luke Skywalker, and his newfound friends in the Rebellion. As a Caregiver gone bad, Darth lends frightful immanence and palpable peril to Luke’s internal struggle to come to terms with his own enigmatic past. 

Elsewhere in the Star Wars universe, on the popular Mandalorian TV show, we see an armored, gun-slinging bounty hunter become an unlikely Caregiver when he chooses to double-cross his client and instead save a strange, green, pointy-eared baby Yoda from being kidnapped by the mad doctors of the Galactic Empire.   

 

Play Video

The Everyperson

Motto:
“I like to keep it real.”

The Everyperson represents all that we have in common as fellow travelers through the human experience. They are the down-to-earth, “regular guy” or “girl next door” that does not have and great wealth or impressive power… and they don’t want then, either. That’s because the Everyperson is extremely fair. They are guided by a highly developed (though very conventional) moral code that stresses equality for all members of their community.

The Everyperson doesn’t appreciate it when either prejudice or privilege causes somebody to be treated unfairly. So, they sometimes find themselves as the unlikely champion of the oppressed. In these instances, the Everyperson moves towards the role of Hero not to seek glory or to revel in the glory of battle, but merely to set right the imbalances that would rob somebody of their basic human dignity. 

Frequently, politicians take on manners of speech and dress that make them appear like a “regular guy” because people tend to trust the mild-mannered ways of the Everyperson. As bespectacled reporter, Clark Kent, Superman pretends to be an Everyman when he moves about the crowds of Metropolis so that nobody suspects that he is a flying god from another planet.  

 

The Creator

Motto:
“I am master of my craft.”

Alternately known as the Artist, the Inventor, the Author and the Master of the Craft, this archetype is a visionary with the skills and the drive to make their vision a reality. Characters who inhabit the 

Creator archetypes may take on other roles, as well. Pablo Picasso was an artist with a unique perspective on the world who took a very distinctive approach to his art. He was a consummate Creator but parts of his story read like the Hero’s Journey as well. When Picasso started his career, all painting aspired to emulate real life as closely as possible. But, Picasso was on the vanguard of a sweeping change in art and expression in the 20th century. He and other brave “Heroes” like him had to leave familiar forms of expression behind as old-fashioned portraits and landscape paintings frankly became obsolete when the photographic technology had advanced enough to replace them. Like the Explorer, Picasso probed new aesthetic approaches and discovered a completely original, innovative, abstract approach to painting that presented drama and emotion in a way that does not compete with the camera’s lens. 

The Creator can also take on the roles of Sidekick, Magician or Trickster in your story, depending on what the scene requires. The Creator archetype is a popular one in movies and books because it provides an interesting opportunity to tell a story about telling a story. “Making of” documentaries and “Behind the Scenes” features capitalize on this same curiosity to see the Creator at work. 

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Let’ s Collaborate!

Table of Contents

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Submit Your Artwork

Collaborate with professional artists by contributing some artwork of your own! Some special pieces may be selected to appear in the Back of the Yards comic book.

UPLOAD YOUR IMAGES BELOW