Do Archetypes Matter?

Archetypes exist for a reason. They are the basis of all characters in literature and exist even though we ignore it and lie to ourselves that they only apply to myths. We are them but never realize it. It is the archetype that we use to base judgement of characters and real people.

But do they really matter? Are they truly set in stone?

The answer? Not exactly.

Archetypes are essentially the framework that we build our characters upon, and it is with that framework we usually have established dynamics to work with. For example, two common archetypes are the hero and the mentor. When I hear that I automatically think of King Arthur and Merlin. The mentor is stern and is trying to push the hero to his limit in order for him to be great, but after a while the hero gets frustrated eventually leading to a conflict that is usually resolved by the end of the plot.

On the other hand, modern characters rarely stick to one archetype, but that opinion doesn’t stick with Highlander Romance Novels. You kind of pull together from all archetypes to create a full character. Doing this can help develop multiple layers with your character and turning them into a wonderful literary onion for your readers to devour.

For example, one of my characters fits a scholar archetype really well but she is still a young adult so she also has some child-like personality traits. She is already showing signs of working with multiple archetypes.

So, in the end, no they aren’t set into stone but there is no way you can deny that they are there. They do still matter. Take a day or two and do some research on the different archetypes. Trust me, I could do it for hours.

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