Examples of the Sage Archetype Jung

Archetypes: Sage

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 Sage

The Sage is an archetype that is most commonly used in fantasy.

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 criticalimpractical, 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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Other Posts in this Series:

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Jester Archetypes Jungian archetypes in fiction

Archetypes: Jester

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 Jester

Jester archetype joker practical joker

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 joyletting 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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N is for Naming Characters

I’m one of those people that really enjoy naming characters. A lot of names that I use were chosen for their sound, more than their meaning (which means that a lot of my names are actually gibberish).

I think the longest name I have ever used for a character is “Akashiseizaborou”. At the time, I was specifically looking for the longest Japanese name I could find for a serious, frowny-pants archangel. Something that also happened a lot with my characters that were created in my teens is the use of Japanese names (see above, and several names below).

As I was saying, a lot of my characters from this period had names of words that I was trying to learn at the time. For instance, I have a set of triplets that students of nihongo might get a kick out of. Their names were Migi, Chushin, and Hidari. These names literally mean right, center, and left, respectively. I also had elementally locked characters named Zetsumei and Owari. (“Death” and “End”.)

In any case, had to stop doing that eventually, because 1) I branched out to different regions in my writing besides those that were inspired by Asia, and 2) I realized a lot of the names I was growing attached to wouldn’t work very well if I attempted to publish.

My penchant for naming people after regular, every day words didn’t really go away, as I now have a bunch of characters named things like Guillotine, Pussywillow, Slate, Otter, Holly, Fable, Narcissus, and Peony, among others.

When a name doesn’t automatically present itself as a word, I next try fun alliterations or syllable duos, like Yendi, Arcus, Jana, Ergon, Ryldur, and so on.

Of course, sometimes even that fails, and I take myself to the net, where I scour down names for regionally similar places to the ones I am writing (using a lot of Hindu and Turkish names right now). The problem with that is that sometimes I end up with a great name––but something far too similar to it is already in use for a bestseller.

For instance, in my current WIP, I am in love with the name “Katerine” (Kat-er-EEN). However, I also just went and watched The Hunger Games, and d’oh, can’t use it anymore! Back to the drawing board…

How do you name your characters? Have you ever fell in love with a name you can’t use anymore, for whatever reason?

Tomorrow: O is for Odds & Ends!