Taking responsibility not only for his own life, but the lives of others, the Ruler is one of the most recognizable and easily corruptible Jungian archetypes. This is the archetype of power, plain and simple, but what comes with power is a dangerous tightrope walk between order and chaos.
As I have mentioned in prior posts in this series, this collection of essays deal 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 conclude our look at the group known as the Self types, which are defined by goals related to the Ego, or agendas that serve to improve personal spiritual, mental, or physical standings with the world. The Ruler, driven by a need for power, is (fittingly) the final of the twelve archetypes in the series.
THE TWELVE ARCHETYPES
Also known as the king, queen, boss, leader, politician, role model, manager, or aristocrat, the Ruler is always at the top of the food chain, and is generally wholly responsible for the atmosphere of the world in which they inhabit. For this reason, it is quite common to either find the benevolent ruler killed or otherwise maimed early on in the story, or the evil dictator, who is the main villain the heroes must overcome by the end. Why is this? Because if the Ruler is available and doing her job properly, there would be no story to tell!
The Ruler is concerned with creating wealth and prosperity, and in order to do that, they must obtain absolute power. By the end of the story, many Heroes may, in fact, be on the path to become Rulers themselves. Unlike the Hero, the Ruler isn’t concerned with a singular purpose—they must weigh the entirety of the community they oversee, and as such, are rarely universally loved. In fact, there may even be a benevolent ruler who appears wholly the villain, simply because they can not grant the requests of their followers. They exert their power as a first course of action, with or without counsel.
The Ruler, therefore, also has a very real fear: being overthrown. In the Ruler’s mind, he is only doing what is best for the world, but the world may not agree, and so, as the story dictates, he must fall, so the cycle can start again.
The Ruler is one of the most dangerous archetypes to fall into shadow. Aragorn becomes Sauron. Peter Pan becomes Captain Hook. Katniss Everdeen becomes President Snow. When the Ruler falls, they fall with absolute power on their side, and are difficult to overcome without heavy costs to the opposing side.
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King Aragorn is shown at the peak of his arc–there’s no story to really tell after his ascension to the throne–but he embodies all that is benevolent and powerful. Give him a dark side, and he’d be King Arthur, who eventually fell to ruin, or Sauron himself.
President Snow, from the Hunger Games, is not exactly a unique villain, but his complete belief that he must do what he does to maintain the safety of District 1 is one of the reasons that he stands out in this list. He even knows that once he is gone, only another corrupt leader will take his place.
Claude Frollo is a master manipulator and controller, keeping Quasimodo locked in a tower for his entire childhood, and seeking to possess the gypsy Esmeralda. Not every Ruler needs to be a king or queen–they need only hold power over another soul.
Ah, Voldemort, seeking to cleanse the impurities from magician bloodlines–corrupted wholly the moment he seizes any sort of power, and unable to be stopped until he nearly destroys the whole of the wizarding world. He is an excellent example of “absolute power absolutely corrupts.”
Darth Vader’s rise to power was ABOUT power. More of it, always. To the point that an imbalance in the universe’s Force was created. To the end, he believes he is doing what is right, corrupted by an evil magician (as many of this archetype are).
Peter Pan is a great example of the Ruler. He is wholly in-charge of the Lost Boys, and the world he reigns over. In fact, Captain Hook, his spoiler, is merely a shadow of what he is/was to become, had he grown up entirely. And when the new children (especially Wendy) seem to garner more attention than him, his shadow side surfaces, Pan playing cruel pranks to lower the status of interlopers in the eyes of his followers.
The Red Queen learned long ago that to rule a place like Wonderland, you have to do so with sheer terror. Decapitations, bizarre game rituals, her court has it all–and I’m sure if you asked her, she’d tell you her way was the very best way.
Tony Soprano, like most mob bosses, has to keep a tight rein on his underlings. Any exposure of weakness will be exploited, and so, though he (at heart) does not like to do some of the things he orders, he does them anyway, in the name of maintaining his territory and his position within the mob.
Though Marie Antoinette was a real person in history, the movie adaptation of the same name creates a persona that embellishes just enough to add her to this fiction-centric list.
The Terminator may seem like an odd choice for this list, and you wouldn’t be wrong! But, in the end, the Terminator is the force of absolute power in his world, and his decision (though suspect as it might be) relies on the understanding that his solution is the right one, and that, in turn, people will follow him for its success. (Of course, subsequent revivals of the series may have botched this theory–I’ve never watched the new movies.)
Miranda Priestly, of “The Devil Wears Prada,” has worked hard to get her position of authority, and fights to keep that control. As a result, she comes off as cold and calculating; nearly like the devil.
Mufasa, of “The Lion King,” is a classic benevolent ruler (though one can wonder why, if he was so benevolent, why Scar starts the movie where he is)… however, because there is nothing but love for this ruler, he must quickly be put out of commission for the story to continue.
Ash Ketchum, of “Pokémon,” is a character on the road to becoming a Ruler. His one goal in all of his travels is to become #1, capture all the pokémon in the world, and win the championship (his world’s ruler standard). He may never achieve it, because then the story would have to end (no one has any interest in watching their beloved character get unseated!)
King Arthur, the original Ruler archetype, must obtain power to bring his kingdom together and overcome the forces that would seek to destroy it. But when his rule is challenged (as in the movie, “Excalibur,” he soon enters shadow, never to return.
If you’ve ever read fantasy, you know the Magician. Catalysts for change, Magicians operate on a plane above everyone else, able to conjure outcomes and affect change in ways that hoist them from mortal to magi in the eyes of the populace.
As I have mentioned in prior posts in this series, this collection of essays deal 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 continue looking at the group known as the Self types, which are defined by goals related to the Ego, or agendas that serve to improve personal spiritual, mental, or physical standings with the world. The Magician, driven by a need for transformation, is next.
THE TWELVE ARCHETYPES
Also known as the visionary, catalyst, charismatic leader, medicine man, healer, and inventor, the Magician is the archetype that seeks transformation, and a deep connection to the cosmos, whatever their definition of that might be.
The Magician is not involved in the everyday of regular people; they do not find ‘mortal’ concerns interesting or curious. Rather, they seek the threads beneath the surface that tie a world together. Unlike the Sage, however, knowledge isn’t enough. The Magician wishes to harness magic for their own purpose. Similarly, unlike the Creator, who uses the rules of the physical world, the Magician seems to draw his power from supernatural skill or resources.
The Magician is known as the catalyst for a reason. In the Hero’s Journey, the Magician is the pin in the balloon of a hero’s sheltered life. While the Magician, in fiction, is powerful, he is also often maimed by the same power, restricted (or willfully determined) from assisting the transformation of the world, except from a distance. The Magician is the chess-player. One of the reasons that a Magician might not be willing to risk life and limb is because his power is born of ego–to in turn be corrupted or otherwise consumed by “evil” is one of his greatest fears. The Magician has an extreme duty to his own self-preservation.
The Magician is one of the less flexible archetypes, when it comes to fiction. The faults of the Magician are typically unvarying, as if those limitations did not exist, most epics would end at the second chapter. This means that the Magician is often perceived to be a coward, manipulative, dishonest, and even cultish. However, when a Magician aligns himself fully to the light, away from his Shadow, he can be a force of great healing and transformation for others. The Magician can often return after a fall from grace as a galvanizing force for the Hero, and make all the difference in the world’s darkest hour.
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Sarumon the White is a class example of the Magician (in his original form) corrupted by Shadow, seeking only power, and forsaking the ties to the cosmos that made him who he is.
Arjuna is a high school girl who one days finds that she can not eat meat without getting flashes of the life of the animal it came from. This change sparks a personal journey to find her place in the fabric of the world, and awaken the latent power inside her.
Fascinating and terrifying, Frank Underwood is the modern Magician–shifting pawns and creating power out of nothing. Ruthless in his quest to transform himself, Underwood is masterful is his guise as a person of charisma and a catalyst for others, while harboring a deep, harmful need to simply satisfy himself.
Anakin, as a boy, is naturally gifted–possessing of power so pure that Obi Wan resists the urgings of the Council to not make him a Jedi. As a boy, his goals are to transform into something better than what he is–but through the course of the story, he becomes corrupted by evil (a Magician’s greatest fear), eventually re-emerging to the world as Darth Vader.
Ursula is about as bad as a Magician can go. Twisted and cynical, Ursula uses her powers of transformation to turn what is good into less, without remorse.
Mystique is a catalyst for change for many in the X-Men universe, most notably Rogue (in the comics) and Magneto (in the movies). Her power comes from her connection, and manipulation, of others, not so much from her very unique skills as a mutant.
Jo feels a deep connection with the twisters she chases, forged in fear and heartbreak, While the rest of her team cites science, she goes with gut and often speaks to the storm systems. When she achieves success, it is almost through unworldly “luck” and, in small part, seems to be a direct result of that initial relationship.
Crysta, of FernGully, is a Magician-in-training. She seeks harmony with nature and the spirits of the forest, her story culminating when she can at last harness the power that will purify the evils that infiltrated her land. These sorts of journeys are common for the Magician archetype, again, because once they have their power, the natural frame of story is impossible without the introduction of a character flaw.
The Evil Queen, especially in this rendition by Charlize Theron, is one of the best examples of the female Magician that I have seen in recent years. She is a chess-player, and is wholly absorbed in the transformation of herself into an incarnation of Beauty. She revels in the Shadow, and her destruction comes as a direct result of her interfering with the mortal coil to get her way.
Nathan is the techno Magician who created life, who turned something less into something autonomous. However, his desire to control his creation for selfish gain, and the foolish games he played to flaunt that power, ultimately lead to his destruction.
Merlin is a classic magician, and hardly needs the introduction. However, you can note in many of his appearances that he only changes/manipulates those around him; he does not actually risk harm to himself.
King Haggard, of The Last Unicorn, uses sorcery to trap the unicorns of the world for his own personal viewing pleasure. His world is one consumed by his own ego, and is a Jester (parading as a Magician) and a Lover (the Unicorn) who end up overcoming him.
Most of Aang’s journey is about his transformation into a Magician, and the powers that would control him when he achieves that state. However, his journey is a deeply personal one, rooted in a need to transform himself and connect with the energies of the Earth.
Snape is a literal sorcerer, but also a Magician in the sense of his ultimate purpose in guiding and protecting Harry Potter, even under the ruse of despising him.
Gandalf the Grey (also listed in The Sage as Gandalf the White) is a Magician who turns into Sage after his fall from grace. He is the galvanizing force of power in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, providing Hope (the hobbits) protection on their quest to destroy the evil that Gandalf himself is afraid of being corrupted by.
Bayaz, the wizard from First Law, is a master chess player. Rumored to have magic and sorcery beyond reckoning, but his true power comes in his ability to manipulate others and transform the world in horrifying ways, without exerting much effort.
All the books in all the world could not contain all there is to know.
Benevolent mentors and custodians of wisdom are some of the hallmark characters of fantasy. Part mystic, part genius, the Sage is an essential driver of the Hero’s Journey, delegating the task of changing the world to their often younger, more naive and eager fellows. The Sage differs from the Creator in that they do not always use their knowledge to change the world, and very rarely do they desire to create something new––in this, the Sage might be closer to the Explorer. While the Explorer’s goals are outward, the Sage’s are inward.
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 continue looking at 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 Sage, driven by a need for knowledge, is next.
THE TWELVE ARCHETYPES
Also known as the scholar, expert, detective, thinker, teacher, mentor, savant, and philosopher, the Sage seeks to understand the world in analytical ways, processing reality with logic and the wisdom of their often long life.
The Sage seeks nothing but the truth. Whether that truth is uncomfortable or heart-rendering, it will be accepted, as the only meaningful path in life is one that pursues truth.
Personal truth based on falsehood is one of the great fears of the Sage, and so they are always questioning what they know to be true. This eagerness to find contradiction sometimes leads the Sage to be misled, or even manipulated by others who are aware of their weakness. In addition, the Sage can be addicted to learning, spending so much time pouring over books and information that they never actively engage in the threat facing their world. One of the most easily recognized representations of this fault is Morla, the giant turtle from the Neverending Story, who is so trapped by her knowledge that she will not even pull herself out of the mud she is in, even to help save her world.
The Sage, being one of the pillars the Hero can depend on, is not easily corruptible. Though the Sage can function in ignorance, when the wool is removed, they often more easily accept that change than the other archetypes. But a shadow Sage is not impossible. A Sage surrounded by profound ignorance may become fed up with such an unenlightened world, and would be happily engage in its political, religious, moral, and spiritual sabotage. A Sage can also become overly critical, impractical, or even unsympathetic to those not on their intellectual plane. Due to the nature of genius, a Sage may also become addicted to mind-numbing substances.
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It takes a great deal of finagling to get Yoda to come out of retirement and train Luke Skywalker, but Yoda is perhaps the most incorruptible of the Sages listed here. His wisdom and carriage suggest constant thought and patience as facts are deliberated. He is a mentor to many, but the peerlessness he faces also gives him an aura of profound loneliness.
Uncle Iroh, while certainly jolly, is the level head within the Fire Nation, guiding his nephew, and even the other side towards a revolution of peace. His wisdom is so sought after, in fact, that even after his death, he is sought out by the avatars for advice.
Morpheus, perhaps a Sage-in-Training, wants to free the world from untruths. His desire to see Neo succeed are in part tainted by his knowledge that only Neo will be imparted with some of the information he wishes to know about the world, and his paranoia about what is “real” and what is “not,” as well as the reality that he was ultimately misled, make Morpheus a tragic case of the Sage in Shadow.
What to do when you are simply too intelligent for this world? Cannibalism aside, Hannibal is a fascinating look at what happens to a genius who needs mental help. Hannibal is in the unique and terrifying position of being smarter than everyone in the room, but also desperately desiring to find someone with which he can relate, on the most base levels of communication. Hannibal is definitely the Sage in Shadow, unsympathetic, and even desiring, the world to burn.
When you think of the Cheshire Cat, you don’t really think of a Sage. But, factor in the laws of reality in Wonderland, and the Cheshire Cat is in fact the benevolent mentor to Alice, offering advice and wisdom on how to progress through the world and eventually return home. Even further than that, take into account Lewis Carroll’s designs in the structure of the novel, and the Cheshire Cat is the only voice of reason.
Advisor to the line of kings, Rafiki is a bit eccentric and at the best of times, not all that influential. His wisdom is overshadowed by the day-to-day struggles of the Sahara, but it is his eventual confrontation with Simba that sends the young lion back to save his pride.
Haymitch, an alcoholic and survivor of the Hunger Games, is a reluctant Sage — he carries in him all of the knowledge and wisdom Katniss will need to survive her obstacles, but is hesitant to give them and act without being begged. He is a Sage purposefully being misled, because in this case, the truth is too hard to stomach.
Katniss is a good example of one archetype turning into another. While I mentioned her originally in my Outlaw post, by the end of her character arc, she is on track to become the Sage, a seeker of truth, and an almost violent exposer of hypocrisy and falsehood. Katniss’s arc is also interesting in that the Sage rarely makes an interesting main character, but the circumstances of her story propel the Sage’s motives into the realm of requirement for freedom.
Ask any long-time reader of the X-Men comic universe, and it makes sense why Professor X makes this list. While in general a humanitarian and benevolent figure, there are many cases of Professor X’s desire for knowledge and the to test the limits of his mind leading the world into chaos and destruction.
Wan Shi Tong, the great owl that keeps a library of all the world’s knowledge, is a simplistic character, following the archetype’s desires almost perfectly. In his simplicity he is also a powerful message, showing, like the Great Sphynx, that knowledge can also be a gilded cage to those who acquire it.
For Spock, logic and reason are the key to everything. His level-headedness keeps his fleet balanced with the heroic tendencies of Kirk, while his rational way of looking at the world is constantly challenged by the erratic and incomprehensible decisions made by the people he interacts with.
Athena, muse and benefactor to men, is the Sage in Action – defying her father, weedling the other gods to give the humans favor, and fighting herself when all else fails, Athena remains a strong example of this archetype in its perfect form: knowledge and wisdom, with the desire to actively do good with it.
Oracle, from the Matrix, like many other oracles and diviners across Earth’s cache of stories, is an example of the Sage Entrapped. Similar to Wan Shi Tong, oracles are nearly stereotyped by their forward-seeing knowledge; knowledge that they can not share with anyone even if they wanted to. To share would be to change, and to change would have far-reaching, unexpected effects. As a story device, oracles run the risk of being deus ex machina, providing only the information the author needs the character to know to progress the story further, without warning that same character of the consequences awaiting him or her.
Rufus is a Sage-as-Time-Traveler, a device that separates this Sage from Oracle–the time traveler’s knowledge is limited, and once the past begins to change, their future knowledge is no longer relevant. In general, whenever a person comes back from the future with the intent to educate key players in a way to change the future, they can be called a Sage.
While Gandalf later transforms himself into the Magician by becoming Gandalf the White, he very much starts as a Sage. Addicted to pipe weed and inconsequential knowledge, Gandalf languishes his talents in the Shire, and in general, putting others in danger before himself, and even doing so knowingly. Like many sages, he does not tell his younger cohorts the true motives behind his actions or theirs, to deadly consequence.
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You only live once, and life’s not worth living without a little fun.
In fact, if you happen to be the Jester, present-minded joy is your first and primary concern. As a Jungian archetype, the Jester takes a break from the often romantic or courageous ideals of his cousins, displaying a masterful use of humor to reveal, heal – even hide – the deepest recesses of human trauma and subconscious.
As I have mentioned in prior posts of 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 dives into the last group of Archetypes, the Self Types, which are defined by goals related to independent desires for development, power, or life. The Jester, whose main desire it to stay fully, happily “in the moment,” is today’s selection.
THE TWELVE ARCHETYPES
Also known as the clown, trickster, comedian, practical joker or the fool, the Jester is an archetype that is at peace with the paradoxes of the world. He uses humor to illuminate hypocrisy, and also level the playing field between those of power and those without.
The Jester is a fun-loving character who seeks the now, inviting others to partake in creating a self-depreciating form of satire. The Jester is also almost always male, though this may be more from the cultural gendering of humor more than a limitation on the archetype itself. The Jester excels at projecting infectious joy, letting go, and banishing depression or aggression from their friends and enemies. They strive for light-heartedness and carefree living.
A moot life is a Jester’s worst nightmare. In some cases, a Jester can also have a second “dragon,” which takes the form as humor being raised as a shield to deflect inquiries about personal trauma. Since fun and humor are requirements for a Jester’s lifestyle, periods of time where humor might be inappropriate make them uncomfortable, and maybe even willfully insensitive.
The Jester does not seek to solve the story’s problem. His main purpose on the journey is the journey itself. The outcome rarely matters to him, and in some cases, he may even be a bit of a devil’s advocate in the interest of spicing things up. The Jester does not reminisce, or plan for the future. In his darker, shadow form, the Jester may be prone to constant inebriation, or drug abuse. These vices could also manifest as a pervert, or any other negative trait defined by a lack of impulse control.
Unlike some of the other archetypes, there is also a secondary, split framework for this archetype in fiction. The Jester is sometimes cast as the comic relief (often the best friend to the lead character). The main difference between the Jester-as-Jungian and Jester-as-Comic-Relief is that the latter does not know he is the Jester. Comic reliefs are built as humorous foils for the audience, yet still often show the same characteristics of the classic Jungian archetype.
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Fat Amy is a fascinating character in that she flips the stereotype of fat = insecure on its head, while laughingly pointing out the often hypocritical standards of the acapella culture she takes part in. However, her humor becomes a barbed shield to those who try to get closer to her (such as the rival acapella group leader).
There are a lot of serious, heavy things going on in Kamala Khan’s life, like getting into arguments with her family, alienating her friends, and, oh yeah, super powers, but it’s hard to find a single frame where Kamala isn’t issuing a wisecrack. Aware of her humor being a defense mechanism, but still unable to help herself, that humor, in the end, aids her in gaining new allies and soothing strained relationships.
It’s hard to make a list of Jesters and not include Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice takes the Jester archetype to the extreme — as he is already dead and is willing to do anything to get back with the living, Beetlejuice adopts a cavalier, often perverted, and definitely inebriated approach to seeking “aliveness” once more.
Austin Powers is a good example of a Jester used in the secondary capacity. Austin believes himself sexy and suave, but of course the audience knows better. As a main character, you can see how goal-related plots might be ill-suited; Austin is often distracted, and the strength of the story comes solely from its satire.
Talk about a devil’s advocate! Leslie Chow is a gangster, and delights in creating chaos for those that consider him a friend. Not above leaving those “friends” out high and dry, Leslie often observes from afar the havoc his actions have wrought, yet shows no remorse, or even a sense of wrong-doing. For Leslie, it is all about the now, now, now.
While Disney has its fair share of jesters (Goofy, Mushu and Lumiere, to name a few), the most memorable of them all has probably got to be Genie, from the Aladdin trilogy and TV show. “Infinite, cosmic power…. and an itty bitty living space” remains one of the first film’s most memorable, and concise conflicts, and Genie’s humor, as well as his guidance toward Aladdin, showing the street rat how to live in the now with what he has, VS what he may never receive, eventually earn him his freedom.
You wouldn’t know tornadoes were a deadly force with the way Dusty goes on about them. While Dusty shows human emotion (particularly fear) towards the end of the film, it remains that the “ride” was what it was always about. That and Aunt May’s cooking.
Taking a long trip into deep space for a long shot at rescuing humanity is no easy thing, and for the crew in Interstellar, mental breakdowns are a very real concern. TARS, one of the robot interfaces designed to assist the human pilots, is programmed with a snarky sense of humor, no doubt a crucial element to the crew’s actual psychological health.
Yes, Joker from the same franchise probably should have made my list, but I personally find Harley more compelling, and her motivations are more in line with this archetype (over Joker’s more “Outlaw” leanings). Harley has lived a hard life, and her relationship with Joker is an abusive one – yet, Harley keeps a smile and joke on her lips like war paint, never letting her guard down, perhaps in fear of her own weakness. For Harley, it is easier to strive to be in the moment than to reflect on the vicious cause and effect cycle she has allowed herself to fall into.
The Weasley Twins hardly need an introduction from me. Their shenanigans are known in our world as well as they are in the world of Harry Potter. And they embody this archetype to a ‘T.’ Fred and George refuse to live a normal day, creating mischief, infectious joy, and light-heartedness wherever they go.
You have to feel pretty sorry for C3P0; designed as no more than a translator droid, C3P0 becomes the brunt of every joke in every language throughout the arcs of the series he is a part of. Definitely more “fool” than “jester,” C3P0 illuminates the bizarre behaviors of people and aliens alike, and we all love him for it.
Meriadock Brandybuck and Peregrin “Fool” Took are about as lighthearted as you can get. Their journey with Frodo is more about being with Frodo than destroying the ring ––and
Roger Zelazny’s classic metaphysical science fiction universe has its fair share of archetypes, but perhaps the most curious twist is Jester as Ruler. (SPOILERS) There is a theme in premodern uses of the archetype (in royal court stories, for example) to cast the Jester as the wisest character, a foil to the foolish king. Random is no exception, and in the arms race to the throne, his attitude of ‘I’ve got no chance so I might as well enjoy myself’ allows him to surpass all of his siblings.
A man with a horribly dark past, Gambit (aka Remy LeBeau) would rather not think about the Thieves Guild, his ex-wife Belladonna, or the fact that he unwittingly took part in the Mutant Massacre as lead man. So, humor is his coat of armor, disarming friend and foe alike to not look that much deeper. (Also notice the motif of the Jester as Ruler in this image).
Nothing takes you further from living than being a skeleton in a catacomb. Skeleton is so desperate to feel the warmth of life again that he can be tricked by a magician into believing air is wine. Though once a king, he is very clearly now a Jester, forcing those who wish to enter the door he guards to play riddle games with him.
This is the motto of the Creator, the Jungian archetype driven by the need to see dream become reality, while providing structure to the world. They are the great architects: the artists, the scientists, the gods and goddesses. Their mind is always questioning, tinkering, and entertaining new theorems. Ingenuity is their hallmark.
As I have mentioned in prior posts of 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 continues 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 Creator, driven by a need for progress, is today’s selection.
THE TWELVE ARCHETYPES
Also known as the artist, innovator, inventor, architect, musician, artist, and dreamer, the Creator is solely focused on examining the boundaries or our reality and perception. As a character, they often take the position of the well-meaning scientist, or savant artist.
The Creator carries an inexhaustible imagination, often excelling at their chosen vocation. When presenting as a mortal character in a reality-based world, he is often portrayed as a man ahead of his time. There are often better examples of this archetype in the real world (Galileo, Einstein, Mozart, Steve Jobs) than in fiction!
Mediocrity is the Creator’s worst fear. Whether this result comes from concept or execution doesn’t matter. The creator wishes to be an authentic voice in a world of white noise. They gain rivals easily, answering those challenges with innovation in their work, and their personal outlook.
The Creator, however, has no shortage of a Shadow. Often given to starting multiple projects but finishing none, or abandoning morality for the sake of their craft, they can be taxing on other people for their insensitivity. Because of their genius, the Creator often tends to play god, allowing the end to justify the means, and deciding what is best for the masses without consulting outside opinion. Many a tormented villain began life as the over-eager, excitable, and impulsive Creator.
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Tinker Bell, in her movie incarnations, has a much richer personality than in her Peter Pan days, as Hannah Givens (check the recommended readings) points out. In these movies she is a tinker, and inventor, and she must come to terms with the goodness of that designation before she can begin to grow as a person (or fairy!)
Kevin McCallister, from Home Alone, is the common portrayal of the Child Creator. Like Dennis the Mennis, Harriet the Spy, and Matilda, Child Creators’s ingenuity is often used for the good of harmony and overpowering those who disrupt the proper order (happiness and peace) of the world.
All of the characters pictured here from Big Hero 6 (sans Baymax) could be included in the Creator Archetype, which may be the reason that some found the story a bit flat — there were no real foils or different personalities to round out the cast.
Ratatouille is the creator chef, and with his rat’s palette, he is able to combine new ingredients for unexpected tastes.
Turning to Chinese mythology for a moment, we have Nüwa, the female equivalent of Zeus. She, too, made humans from clay, and set order to the world, at one point repairing the heavens when they tore away from the world.
No list about the Creator could be complete without Dr. Frankenstein, the original pop-culture inventor. While Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde could also make the list, here we have a man playing god, with horrific consequence.
Mythology’s original creator. Not much needs to be said here; the stories of Zeus and his creations, and his anger when those creations fail to venerate him properly, are world famous, and with good reason.
Known as some of the most creative artisans of Middle Earth, the dwarves of Tolkein’s world are also greedy, erring on the side of arrogance and superiority.
Bulma, inventor extraordinaire, is one of the few females to make this list. As a scientist in Capsule Corp, Bulma’s ingenuity nearly functions as a plot device to get the heroes out of tight situations, but his arrogance as the “brains” behind the operation often put her at odds with the rest of the group.
Frida Kahlo, as portrayed by Salma Hayek, was a woman beyond the literal scope of her reality. Confined in body but not in spirit or mind, she advances the ideas of feminism, marriage, sexuality, and art in ways few in her era could.
Karen Eiffel, the effective “god” of Stranger than Fiction, is an author who does not realize the words of her imagination are reality for her protagonist Harold Crick, but in the end, she chooses compassion over genius, sparing his life.
An obvious inclusion, the figurines of the LEGO universe (and the company as well) are all about Creators as a brand. Build anything. Everyone is the Special.
Another example of the Creator falling victim to his own genius, Tony Stark is a master tinkerer, unable to keep himself from exploring, or asking questions that shouldn’t be answered. In the most recent film, this led to the creation of the diabolical Ultron and the neutral Vision.
Wayne Szalinski, from Honey I Shrunk the Kids, rarely thinks about the consequences of his inventions. He sees them only for the good they can do. This of course led to a highly successful series of movies revolving around his irresponsibility with his genius, where he must often rely on his children to clean up his mistakes.
Cisco, from the TV series The Flash, is a geeky Creator. If it sounds cool, he’ll build it, sometimes with disastrous outcomes. However, his pure heart is never tampered with, and since he never believes himself superior to others, he is able to maintain his relationships, redirecting his genius to solve the various problems the team faces.
Wednesday Addams is one of the more precocious children in TV and Film, taking her “arts” to new levels at every opportunity. She lives outside of her life as a little girl, often speaking and conducting herself in ways that are more mature than even the adults in her household.
John Hammond wanted a simple thing: to create life. To bring what was extinct back from the dead. But his internal vision was not the outcome: chaos can not be controlled, and Hammond was no god.
Dr. Emmett Brown of Back to the Future fame, is your standard Creator archetype. Like most inventors, his inventions tend to backfire in unexpected ways, and he must both grapple with and correct those errors before they result in catastrophe.
Mozart, as portrayed in Amadeus, is so consumed by his brilliance that he can not notice the way his life is crumbling all around him, ultimately bringing him to his final destruction.
Brilliant, confused, angry. The history of Dr. Wells is complex and fascinating, but his use of the particle excelerator for his own ends is a classic example of “playing god” and allowing the end to justify the means.
Forge is an interesting paradox for this list in that he is a Creator – able to create anything in all the world he wishes to create – but he lacks the imagination to do it by himself. The complex nature of his gift forces him to rely on the ingenuity and imagination of others, while his fingers make what would only be dreams, otherwise, reality.