There is strength in intimacy; divinity in love, and no archetype wields this power more skillfully than the Lover: aptly named, often misunderstood.
This archetype brings to mind the great romances, playboys, and jilted lovers of the world’s story tapestry, but they are not limited to passionate affections. The Lover presides over all love: familial, religious, cultural, romantic, peaceful. The Lover desires their anima and animus to be united, in whatever form that might be.
As I have mentioned in prior posts in this series, this collection of posts deals with the archetypes first put forth by psychiatrist Carl Jung, and the use of these archetypes in fiction. Every post deals with the motivations, character profiles, and Shadows (or negatives) of each archetype. This week we are continuing the group known as the Soul types, which are defined by goals related to personal development, or agendas that serve to improve their spiritual, mental, or physical standing with the world. The Lover, driven by a need for soul-rendering bliss, is this week’s archetype. In addition to being a Soul type, it is often grouped with three other archetypes (Magician, Ruler, Warrior) to constitute what has been termed the Mature Masculine types. See my post on the Anima & Animus to learn more about the gender-denomination of the archetypes.
THE TWELVE ARCHETYPES
Sometimes known as the friend, partner, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, or team-builder, the Lover is all about creating lasting, meaningful relationships. They thrive in situations that bring them closer to the things they love.
The Lover performs best under mutually-beneficial arrangements. They are no stranger to dedication and commitment, will show appreciation and gratitude for others without being prompted, and are quickest to (excuse the cliches) wear their heart on their sleeve and view the world through rose-tinted glasses.
They are terrified of being alone. Getting excluded from the group, not having their passions reciprocated or even acknowledged are some of the greatest fears for the Lover, who usually has such a narrow, precise goal that anything less than bliss will leave them broken-hearted. The Lover rarely recovers from this sort of loss.
The Lover’s shadow can take many forms. As a chameleon, thy can risk losing their own self-identity in trying to remake themselves into the image their desired wishes, or can grow so bitter over their failure that they will obstruct the path of their scorning love, or naive people who remind them of their former, innocent passion. The shadow side of the Lover is also one of the most dangerous, as he can not be reasoned with. There is no life for the Lover after loss of love, and many times, they are willing to take many down with them in a final, fitting end. They can also have commitment problems, objectify their desire, and become addicts in the pursuit of recreating the instigating emotion.
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Jamal just wants the girl. How he gets there is his story, but his goal never changes. It would be hard to imagine an ending where he doesn’t get her.
Samwise is a wonderful example of the Lover. His goal throughout the entire LOTR story is to protect Frodo, not just from the evil of the world he is thrust into, but also from the evil threatening to poison his heart. When he seems to have lost Frodo’s friendship, Samwise rallies, overcoming his own hurt to fulfill his promise to his friend–continuing to love Frodo, even when there is no promise that he will return to Frodo’s good graces.
Rogue is a southern belle who wants nothing more than to find love and keep it–but her powers don’t allow skin-to-skin contact with anyone. Her struggles to find fulfillment are one of the tennents of her character.
Agent K is a lover who has lost, or at least he thinks so. He pines after the woman in his former life who he now protects–his motive for fighting aliens for the MiB.
Luna Lovegood has no romantic interest, but she is firmly in the realm of the Lover. She cares more about her friends (visible or not) than anything else, and it is the threat to their safety that spurs her into action to fight.
The most famous romantic couple of literature needs no introduction, their tale having birthed about half a dozen tropes and cliches that were timeless when Shakespeare first penned them. Love or Death. Those are the only options.
Again, another couple that needs no introduction. Beast and Belle occupy different sides of the Lover spectrum, Belle abandoning her need for perfection, and Beast learns to take into account the will of Belle, instead of objectifying her as his way out of the curse.
Charlotte, of Sex and the City, is the Lover of the group. She wants the perfect man, a white dress and diamond ring. A perfect, cosy house and children. Anything outside of that idea shatters her for many seasons, and because of that, she throws away several good relationships.
M. Gustave is a bit of a rogue, but his passions are with the Budapest Hotel and her guests, sometimes forcing him to go into surprising lengths.
Anna falls in love with the first guy she meets, and doesn’t understand why everyone else says its a bad idea. Her growth through the story strips away the rose-tinted glasses and forces her to see the true meaning of love.
Well, what’s the Joker doing here? For this list, I am focusing on Ledger’s Joker, a villain that created an entire narrative around he and Batman being a divine couple (one can not exist without the other), and a sort of mad obsession with how he expects things will play out. Obviously Batman finds the third option in that dichotomy, but the Joker wins: He becomes a mark on Batman’s psyche.
Felix ‘s main arc in Wreck-it-Ralph had more to do with the woman he was determined to impress than actually finding Ralph, though in the end, his friendship with his nemesis is also explored.
Baby falls head first and fast into her first romance. There is heartbreak, there are fights and misunderstandings, but the pain is as important to Baby as the intimacy.
Old Yeller. The dog that loved, and loved until sickness forced his friend to betray (or honor, depending on how you look at it) that trust. Animals as characters tend to fall under this archetype, as they are bastions for ‘unconditional love’.
Phil has a black heart at the beginning of Groundhog’s Day, and his manipulative attempts to get with his boss Rita end in slaps and slammed doors. However, as the movie progresses, Phil goes from self-centered to generous and passionate individual, taking a new appreciation for life and the people that populate his world.
Other Posts in this Series: