Archetypes: Innocent

What endears us to a character?

Centuries of literature from all across the globe have shown us kings, highwaymen, samurai, wisemen, star-crossed lovers, and wizards––many so common that they have become archetypes in our consciousness. According to Carl Jung, there are twelve in all, set into three different categories of Ego, Soul, and Self.

In addition to these archetypes, which each have their own motivations, mottos, and shadows, are the Anima, Animus, and Persona.

Archetypes work as an appealing framework for the characters that fill our myths, legends, fairytales, and literature. They exist in all sorts of cultures (sometimes under different names, such as the Sage being also the Wiseman, Shaman, or Taoist Monk).

What follows is a mini-series devoted to the explanation of Jung’s twelve archetypes, through examples in film*, literature, and video games, and close looks at the elements that separate them from the rest.

The series will have thirteen posts in all, including this one, and the previously published The Anima and Animus in Fantasy. It will start with the archetypes in the Ego category (Innocent, Everyperson, Hero, Caregiver), then move on to the Soul (Explorer, Outlaw, Lover, Creator), and finish with the Self (Jester, Sage, Magician, Ruler).

*examples gleaned from film and television are more accessible than those through literature, as the likelihood that a movie has been watched is higher than a book having been read.



The Innocent

The Innocent

Known by many other names, including the Child, the Youth, Utopian, naive, and mystic, the Innocent embodies all that we wish to return to in old age, and a soul untarnished by the harshness of the world.

The Innocent craves happiness above all else. It need not be just his own; the Innocent desires paradise for all, even his enemy. The motivations for the Innocent are sincere. Truth is all he knows.

This unadulterated innocence is what makes this archetype one of the most sympathetic characters, and in group settings, it is the Innocent who often rallies those sooner down-trodden. They inspire people to default to the good, especially those that are apathetic. At his height, the Innocent can convince a neutral party to fight for the Hero, even if there is no reward to be had and the chance of success is slim. His optimism is unrivaled.

However, the Innocent is not impervious to the Shadow, or those elements of an archetype that the Self rejects from its day-to-day Persona. In fact, the Innocent can be terribly naive, to the point of endangering those around him. The Innocent can also be precocious, and difficult to reason with. They are dependent on the skill of others to survive, but may not be aware of it, often living sheltered lives or having a disposition that ignores reality in order to retain a fantasy ideal.


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21 thoughts on “Archetypes: Innocent

  1. Brilliant post — I’ve always been fascinated with archetypes. Even though certainly people cannot be grouped or clustered into an archetype so wholly, it’s always interesting to read up and learn from these frameworks, as you aptly put it.


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, the thing that separates the archetypes from tropes or stereotypes as they ARE just the “frameworks”, rather than the character as a whole. All of the characters in the gallery are quite different from each other, but hold the same, integral “innocence” of the archetype. 🙂

      I had a lot of fun writing this one, and can’t wait to work on the next one!


  2. Is this my magic 12? I know the character said “Why can’t it ever be just about me!” but I am sensitive to the number 12 since I woke up thinking about the 12 Tattoos…
    Thx Alex. I have much to learn! You are a good teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, like 3, 12 is a good number. Twelve months, four seasons of three months each… Twelve hours in a half day cycle, etc. I’m really glad you enjoyed the post, Stuart! I had a lot of fun writing it!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really glad you enjoyed it! I still have 5 more to write. I’m really excited about this series!


    1. Thank you! Hopefully once the series is finished, I’ll be able to pull all the information together for a self-published book. I want to make worksheets and longer examples of the character studies, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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