Saturday, July 19, 2014

Archetypes: All the World's a Stage Part 2

Read previous entries on archetypes:
Archetypes: A Hero's Journey Part 1
Archetypes: A Hero's Journey Part 2
Archetypes: All the World's a Stage Part 1

Between the Beautiful People link up, my neglect of my school work from last semester and my attempt to make summer holidays the best is can be, I let blogging slip through my fingertips. Whoops...*coughs* Now that's it's officially summer, I don't have many excuses though ;) 
Before Beautiful People, I wrote about the situational setting archetypes in stories. This time I'm going to write about symbolic setting archetypes. The difference you ask? While situational settings are more like the premise of stories, symbolic settings are more like elements in the story that show up once or twice. I suppose you could say that the main difference is that symbolic settings don't wrap the story around them as much as they add extra punch to the plot, characters and theme. Since there's a lot of them, I decided that I'd split this post into a two shorter parts rather than making it super long. 

FUN FACT: Joseph Campbell took Carl Jung's ideas of archetypes and used them to write his book, A Hero with a Thousand Faces. This book is what aided George Lucas in creating the Star Wars Saga

Bilbo Baggins in
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
1) The Threshold 

This is the metaphorical gateway to a new world. The hero has to go through it in order to start the journey, to change and to grow. It's a pretty broad term but I really do think that all stories have them. The Threshold could be a conversation with a certain person, an irreversible action, a decision that have to make within themselves or it really could be a door. Going trough the threshold won't ever be easy. Our hero will struggle to go through it either internally or externally. 
In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins signs the contract with the dwarves but not after he really thinks about it. However, in the The Fifth Wave Ben's Threshold is the gruelling military training camp. In both cases, these things set the character on a path to change and grow. If a major character change doesn't come afterwards, it's not a Threshold and without the Threshold there is no story.

2) The Underworld

This is another thing I think all stories have. It shouldn't be taken though as a literal underworld. In archetypes the underworld is the place where our hero will encounter their greatest fear and maybe even death if it's that kind of story. It can be a dragon's den like in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or a big city like in Mockingjay. Of course, or hero is always confronting their fears and possibly death throughout the entire story but the Underworld will be the place where they almost won't make it out. Don't let the hero fail though! We all want them to beat their fears, that's what we've been routing for since the start. 

Katniss and Gale in the film
adaptation of The Hunger Games
3) The Wilderness 

Rules don't apply here and people and things run wild. A fantastic example of this is the forest outside of District 12 in The Hunger Games. There's no peacekeepers out here to tell Katniss and Gale that they can't hunt. Many times the wilderness is tied to serenity but not always. 
Something I've noticed is that children are often associated with this archetype. Where the Wild Things Are, The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin the music video for Featherstone by The Paper Kites comes to mind. 
ex. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Epic

4) The River

In archetypes, when our hero comes in contact with river it represent the flow of time. This can be taken in many different ways. Maybe our hero took a trip back in time and ends up near a river, maybe like in the case of the film Chocolat the village is trapped in their traditional ways and our hero often finds herself looking out over the river. In Tom Sawyer, Tom and his friends play by the river, bringing emphasis to the boys' youthfulness. 
It's a more subtle symbol but it can be pretty effective if used properly. It's probably one of my favourite symbols ^ ^ 
ex. Chocolat, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain 

5) The Wasteland

Erindale as a frozen wasteland in Frozen
You see this one all the time now in pop culture since dystopian novels and film adaptations have peaked. This represents loneliness, desolation, despair and no growth. The Scorch in The Scorch Trials is a great example. Sun flares destroyed the land and left it dry and festering with disease. The characters come across an near empty city, getting a taste of just how lonely this wasteland is. 
Another good example of a wasteland is in Frozen. Instead of a dry wasteland, it's a frozen one. Who would have guessed? XD After Erindale is cast into eternal winter, the people of the kingdom are in despair. Scene cuts to the kingdom really do leave you feeling lonely. Not until the resolution of the film does that feeling let up. 
ex. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, Frozen

6) The Crossroads 

Another element that I think is in every story is the crossroads. This is where our hero enters a place of suffering (maybe even the underworld!) and is forced to make a decision that will affect the rest of their journey. This is a pivotal moment for the hero no matter what they choose. 
Since most people have seen Frozen, I'll use that as an example. 
Spoiler alert! At the end of the movie, Anna is freezing to death and knows that only an act of love can save her. She sees Kristof running towards her, he can save her. But in the other direction, her sister is about to be killed. She's dying and must choose her life or her sister's.

Are any of these symbolic archetypes in your story? What's the threshold, underworld and crossroads in your heroes journey? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to read them! :) 

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