The Mother Archetype


An archetype is a character that represents how the general public feel that the character should look and act in a situation. And archetype is a universal model of expectations and closely matches an idealistically image. The meaning of an archetype is not just focussed on characters it can also apply to a theme, setting or a symbol. The Psychologist Carl Jung, felt that use of archetypes is a ‘’collective consciousness’, that is part of a shared opinion that can apply to a group of people, a race, a country or mankind. There are many types of archetypes that can illustrate different emotions (such as love or hate) or shared experiences or reactions to experiences (such as the struggle for survival or death).


Archetypal representations can come in the form of Literature or Art. The purpose of using archetypal characters in written work helps the readers to identify with the characters. This strategy give realism to the written work as the characters and story lines are devised to be parallel to real life stories and experiences. It makes the story seem real and culturally correct.


There are many archetype characters that are used in literature. One of the most important archetypes that are always found in a story is the character of the hero or heroine. They represent goodness. Goodness and evil are always in conflict so the villain is the opposite of the hero or heroine, they do whatever they can to destroy order. The villain does not have to be as dastardly as ‘Captain Hook’ in Peter Pan, but you will find that all villains will have a lot in common including attitude.


The mother archetype is usually a ‘Mother Earth’ type of character much like a Fairy God Mother or ‘Glenda the good witch’ in The Wizard of OZ or very typically the ‘Fairy Godmother’ in Cinderella. The mother archetype is always goo and kind, they always see the best in people and in Literature they are usually found supporting the downtrodden Heroine. The mother figure always visits people in their time of need, they always know exactly what to do and what to say. They are usually not shallow people as they have a spiritual aura surrounding them. The archetypal mother figure is not a new literary invention there are examples of the mother figure found in mythologies, in particular the character of Persephone is a very idealistic mother figure of an earth mother. Other mythical archetypal characters are Demeter and Medusa. The archetypal mother has a history as far back as cultural history itself.

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