You may have heard the word "archetype" tossed around before, but it's possible that you haven't quite learned the meaning of this word yet. Simply put, an archetype is something that reoccurs in literature and in art.
This something can be a symbol, a theme, a setting, or a character. This article focuses on character archetypes—that is, character types that pop up across all genres of literature, both classic and contemporary. Everyone is familiar with these guys, because everywhere we turn, there they are! Here's a list of some of the most commonly found archetypes in literature. Summary: The hero is always the protagonist though the protagonist is not always a hero.
Traditionally speaking, the hero has been male, though fortunately there are more female heroes appearing in contemporary literature think Katniss Everdeen and Lisbeth Salander. The hero is after some ultimate objective and must encounter and overcome obstacles along the way to achieving this goal.
He or she is usually morally good, though that goodness will likely be challenged throughout the story. That and the fact that they are often responsible for saving a bunch of people or hobbits, or wizards, or what have you. Examples of hero archetypes in literature: If you're a medieval literature buff, you'll be familiar with Sir Gawain of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight fame.
If reading Middle English literature isn't your thing, here's a quick breakdown: Sir Gawain, after stepping up to the plate and taking on a challenge that none of the other knights were brave or dumb enough to take on, must go on an adventure that is almost certain to end in his death. He faces many challenges along the way—most important, there is a very tempting and very married lady that Sir Gawain must resist. The whole thing is a test of Sir Gawain's integrity and bravery, and—honorable knight that he is—he passes with only a minor indiscretion.
Though not everyone is familiar with Sir Gawain, I think it's fair to assume that most people have heard of Harry Potter. Harry represents the hero archetype almost perfectly. He takes on more responsibility than he should reasonably have to—teens aren't usually expected to keep the world safe from evil, after all—and remains brave even when he knows he faces certain death.
Like many classic heroes, Harry conquers death, completes his mission, and never waivers from his true self, despite all the hardships he must face. Like many hero archetypes in literature before him, Harry is ethical almost to a fault. His friends accuse him of being a martyr, a role that often goes along with the hero territory. Summary: The mentor is a common archetype in literature. The mentor is usually old, and this person often has some kind of magical abilities or a much greater breadth of knowledge than others possess.
Mentors help heroes along their journeys, usually by teaching them how to help themselves though mentors sometimes directly intervene in extreme situations.
The mentor often ends up dying but is sometimes resurrected or revisited even after death. Examples of mentor archetypes in literature: One word, folks: Gandalf. This infamous The Lord of the Rings wizard is the guy you want to have on your side when you're faced with an unexpected journey. He knows when to help; he knows when to back off. Gandalf's magical powers seem almost inseparable from his knowledge.You might have even been told you need to be writing villains, memorable antagonists that can supercharge your plot.
Adapted by The Write Practice. You associate villains with Darth Vader and Jafar from Alladin. The villain, like the foolis a classic archetype seen in almost every story from Shakespeare to Disney to films like 27 Dresses. However, unlike the fool, the villain has no consistent character traits. They are a shadow version of the hero, and their personality morphs based on the strengths and weaknesses of the hero.
What this means is that whoever your main character is, the villain is somehow the opposite. Then, we will make some general observations based on our examples:. It is power hungry and malicious compared to his cheerful, relaxed self. And Sauron, in the end, finds his hero in Aragorn, the king who does not seek his own kingdom but is given it, almost against his will.
As I considered her responsible, shy, honest personality, I thought, Who was the character most opposite? Her sister Tess, of course. No, instead she wins by actually become more like Tess and Tess wins by becoming more like Jane.
They are Dmitri, who thinks with his gut, and Ivan, who thinks with his head. Alyosha, on the other hand, thinks with his heart. Together they form a kind of trinity of archetypes, the Jester, the Mastermind, and the Saint. There is no singlular villainous character in Finding Nemo. However, in reality the true villain is biggness.
Out of fear, Marlin has become small, and his internal villain is anything resembling big. This is an interesting study because the seeming antagonist to Jake, the main character, is his own impotence which keeps him from the love of his life, Lady Brett Ashley. Good external conflict always comes first from internal conflict you might need to tweet that.
So what are your characters conflicted about? What are their weaknesses, their regions needing growth? Who is their shadow? Who is your favorite villain from books or film?
Let us know in the comments section. Describe two characters, your hero and your villain. Show how your villain is really a shadow version, an opposite, of your hero. Practice this for fifteen minutes. Building an Author Website.How To Make A Great Villain
Joe Bunting. Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Parisa real life adventure story set in France. It was a 1 New Release on Amazon. You can follow him on Instagram jhbunting.
The Practicing Community. Rep Your Practice If you practice, let the people who read your blog know.By David Ball. Creating a believable villain can be difficult. A villain needs a sensible cause click here for an article about thatand they need to be credible click here for tips about that too.
This type of villain is often imprisoned, and uses the PCs to escape. Villain is the brother or sister of a PC. Their evil actions come from feelings of inadequacy, entitlement, or envy of the PC.
Comedic, caustic, killer. Consider adding elements of the absurd and horrific in equal measure. Uses sexuality and seduction to get her way. Her motives come from abuse, hunger for power, or revenge against a PC. Tapping into our societal abhorrence at playing god, this super-smart villain has dire technology the PCs must counter. Typical stances include insane, eccentric, and bumbling genius turned evil or tricked into doing evil things. The villain has two minds. The first lets him brilliantly plan and plot against the world with a good chance his clever plans will succeed.
The second is tainted by madness and broken with reality, meaning motives and behaviours are unpredictable and irrational.
Related: How to write a credible villain. They want more power for its own sake, because of low self-esteem, or to prove something to a PC. An evil or underworld deity with nefarious plans.
Sometimes a demon or fallen god looking for retribution or return to glory. A great villain to spawn cults or evil empires. The society itself is the villain as the PCs try to survive or defend others against prejudice, oppression, and disregard for life.
People are just property for the system to chew up. Spurned or betrayed, the villain now seeks revenge against a person or group formerly close to them. The villain cannot be overcome through direct means. Email Address. Jun 5 By David Ball Tweet. Play-by-post Games OngoingWorlds is a website where you can work together to create interesting stories, and roleplay as any interesting characters.
Either join a game or create your own. Recent posts Latest sponsors Coronavirus lockdown — time for creative writing with friends? Subscribe via Email. Like this? Become a Patreon!What archetypes really do is tell us the role a character plays in the story.
During the journey, the hero will leave the world they are familiar with and enter a new one. This new world will be so different that whatever skills the hero used previously will no longer be sufficient.
Together, the hero and the audience will master the rules of the new world, and save the day. J is the heroic tour guide in Men in Black. A cop at the top of his beat, he is suddenly taken behind the masquerade of everyday life.
Waiting for him is a world where aliens are hiding among everyday people, and a galaxy can be as small as a marble. Other heroes: any protagonist fits the hero role. The hero has to learn how to survive in the new world incredibly fast, so the mentor appears to give them a fighting chance. This mentor will describe how the new world operates, and instruct the hero in using any innate abilities they possess. The mentor will also gift the hero with equipment, because a level one hero never has any decent weapons or armor.
Then, before the Wicked Witch of the West can claim the ruby slippers, Glinda gifts them to the hero instead. Often, the mentor will perform another important task — getting the plot moving.
Glinda tells Dorothy to seek the Wizard, and shows her the yellow brick road. Once the hero is on the right path and has what they need to survive, the mentor disappears. Heroes must fight without their help. The hero will have some great challenges ahead; too great for one person to face them alone. Plus, the journey could get a little dull without another character to interact with.
He starts the story as a gardener, joining the group almost by accident. But not all allies start that way. They can be more like Han Solo, disagreeable at first, then friendly once the hero earns their respect. Either way, the loyalty and admiration allies have for the hero tells the audience that they are worthy of the trials ahead.Plato referred to archetypes as Forms, which he saw as pre-existing ideal templates or blueprints.
Virtually every response you give to your environment—the way you behave—is an expression of an archetype too. The general belief about archetypes is that there are only a select few. For example, a list of archetypes might have only 4, 6 or The reality is that there are thousands of archetypes.
Each one possesses different behavioral patterns and subtleties. It seems appropriate to start our journey with the man who popularized the concept of archetypes. Perhaps more than anyone else, psychiatrist Carl Jung provided us with a map of the human psyche.
Through his analytical psychology, Jung classified many of the driving forces that dominate human behavior. Here are the primary Jungian archetypes, all of which Jung addresses in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious :.
Jung referenced many other archetypes in his work, but the above archetypes list highlights the primary ones. Perhaps my favorite and the most practical model for understanding archetypes comes from neo-Jungian Robert Moore.
In King Warrior Magician LoverMoore and Gillette highlight the four primary archetypes in the masculine psyche as well as the eight bipolar shadow archetypes that go with them. Every personality system represents a collection of archetypes. One of my favorite personality models is the Enneagram. Within the Enneagram community, there are two versions of the model.
While they are both similar, they use different names to characterize the archetypes. One model developed by Don Riso and Russ Hudson outlines the nine personality types or archetypes of the Enneagram as follows:. The other model used by the Enneagram Worldwide and highlighted by Helen Palmer in The Enneagram describes the personality archetypes as:. If we add each level as its own archetype, the Enneagram actually contains a list of 81 archetypes.
12 villain archetypes to choose from
Plus, each type has wings and variants, which easily quadruples the number of potential archetypes. One of the original archetypes lists is represented by the pantheon of gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology. As you can see, our psyche is filled with a pantheon of characters vying for our attention.
Want to begin to make sense of it all? Start with this guide. This was so helpful. Great comprehensive list on this subject. Would you look at the astrological signs and planets as well? Most definitely. The 12 Zodiac signs are arguably the original list of archetypes. Thanks for your comments. Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. Guides About Products Coaching Join.But there are many villainous archetypes a villain can fit into, some of which will be listed in this post.
Some writers label any antagonistic force as a villain, but there is a difference. For the purposes of this post within the Character Archetypes A to Z series, the terms will be defined, and the post will deal with human ish villain types.
Antagonists are antagonistic forces with opposing goals to the protagonist. Conflict can exist between —. In above the antagonistic force a super-storm, a rampaging robot, a dystopian authority, a giant slug, or pure bad luck may not even have an awareness of the main character and their predicaments, or humanistic goals. Many stories have multiple antagonists — an adventure story for instance may have the main hero firstly tackling an icy storm stuck up the middle of a high cliff-top, then tackling the evil corporation which sent him to that cliff, then later fighting with his wife over the fact he is fighting a corporation in the first place, then in the climax fighting fist to fist with an assassin sent out by the corporation to track down the hero, and eradicate him and all his knowledge.
If that assassin was involved in the first act, with goals to kill the hero, then I would consider him a story-wide villain. For the true villain antagonist, the hero is somebody who is getting in their way and must be stopped.
They will plot and plan to do this. All stories only need two types of character — a hero and a villain or antagonistic force. Most people understand anti-heroes a little. Some well-known examples of reluctant or slightly non-heroic heroes exist, such as serial murderer Dexter.
The anti-hero possesses non-heroic qualities. They may be incompetent, a coward, clumsy, unskilled, naive, selfish, brattish, barbaric or reluctant to really go out there and fight monsters. Or they possess ambiguous morals — something Dexter does well. Han Solo and other heroes for rent Solo initially helped in Star Wars because he was being paid are anti-heroes.
An anti-hero is a monster on our good side. He could be a hero who is prepared to kill or break laws for altruistic purposes. Conversely, an anti-villain is a nice guy who is on their bad side. He may possess some good characteristics like a moral code of ethics, or loves his family, or he may refuse to kill women or children or break some laws for selfish goals, but ultimately he is bad.
The anti-villain serial killer may draw the line at killing children, women and animals for instance, so to assist himself, he may hire himself out as a political assassin only killing men.
The spiritual leader who truly wants the world to attain world peace may kill to get the world there. Dexter could be considered an anti-villain in this respect, as he still has a drive to kill people, but with a code that he will only kill those who deserve it, ie.
Using both, we have the noble jewel thief as hero versus the corrupt lawman as villain. Write Practise summarizes 5 types of anti-hero from TV Tropes. Shadows in this sense can be a non-human and symbolic antagonist, as with shadows we are talking solely about one internal shadow for a character.
5 Common Character Archetypes in Literature
Whilst Frodo is relaxed and cheerful before being overtaken by the Ring and the Ring is power-hungry and malicious with whomever touches it. Shadow or mirrors reflect back to the main character the one characteristic they most fear, or their inner weakness. There are many motivational forces which can work on your villain types, but here are some basics, single or combined:.
Below this is an even bigger but simple list of all the villain types I could think of — most of these will fit into one or two of the general archetypes listed here.So I have been doing a little bit of a character study on a large selection of villains and have been trying to dissect them to see what makes them tick. I have also been trying to come up with environmental entropy for the world that might promote drama.
Boiling my studies down to a thousand or so words is a little tough, but I will cover what I found were my favorite villain archetypes and how someone could string them together in order to come up with a core concept for a villain hierarchy. It is important to note that a villain is not always an antagonist, and an antagonist is not always a villain.
Because we know this fact, we can exploit it to create a story that has depth. An antagonist is just an opposing force to the protagonists, creating some sort of conflict in your story. This means you can have things like nature, machines, society, fate, etc.
A villain on the other hand, is just some corporeal form that embodies and promotes the conflict that you are trying to create in the story. The following is but a short list of the several different villain types I found while doing my research. I will name examples of villains so that you might be able to do a similar study on those you are not familiar with. It is also important to note that some of these can fall under more than one category listed, I just picked a single villain that I felt best represented the category.
This villain is one that is always running from something or caught up in some sort of a jam. They tend to be a person that was degenerated by outside forces and now must do unspeakable things to survive and sometimes thrive.
These characters tend to be lackeys for other, more powerful villains, and sometimes, they rise to power. A great example of this type of villain is how the Penguin is depicted in the first season of Gotham.
Writing Villains: 9 Evil Examples of the Villain Archetype
This villain is an extremely deceptive and dangerous one. They are usually very cunning, manipulative, and ruthless.
They use their charm to seduce the opposite sex to get what they want. A great example here is Mystique from X-Men. This is an easy one to adopt for Dungeons and Dragons. The murderous robot is a construct that has a singular purpose, usually destroy. They are sometimes sentient, which can make them more lethal, and in turn more fun. Great character examples would be Ultron or Frankenstein's Monster.
The boss villain archetype is deceptively named but it makes sense after a little explaining. They can be fiercely loyal or extremely koniving depending on what you want out of your villains. These villains like to be in charge and thrive on it, but something keeps them from taking the final step to becoming the true boss. Many times what holds them back are themselves, but sometimes it is out of pure oppression.