Archetypes

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Common core standards


Related articles

Teaching strategies

Definition

  • At its heart, an archetype is a pattern that we see repeated over and over again.
    • In psychology, Karl Jung discusses the collective unconscious and a whole lot of other stuff that has a little more to do with Psych 101 than high school and middle school English. For the purposes of this article, archetypes can be either characters or situations/events that are found in most stories and across most societies. Common character archetypes are the hero, the villain, the mother figure, the father figure, and the underdog. Common situations/events are the quest, the journey, the task and the fall. There are plenty more of both, but most districts start by teaching students about the hero’s journey in the context of fairy tales and comics.


  • Here are some more definitions and information:
    • Goldwriter, on BrightHub, offers this definition; “Archetypical characters are characters which may fit a stereotype and have character traits which are repeated time and again in stories.” [1]
    • Latisha Coleman, on BetterLessons, has this explanation for students; “Archetypes are the repeated patterns that we see across stories.
      • In fairy tales, one archetype is a villain. No matter what fairly tale you read there will be villain. When we understand the repeated elements; archetypes, across literature we can read and understand the text even better.” [2]
    • D. Harris at USF says this about why we study them; “Archetypes are recurring elements in stories that express the human condition
      • Archetypes further the plot and add value to the text
      • Many archetypes have their roots in the first stories ever told, and remain the same through human history
      • All cultures have similar archetypes, connecting human societies
      • Deconstructing literature into components identifies strategies to write effective narrative.” [3]

Lists

Lists of common archetypes and explanations:

Classroom activities

  • Latisha Coleman, on BetterLessons, has a solid middle school lesson on archetypes in Fairy Tales. She has the students look at three versions of “Cinderella” and three versions of “The Three Little Pigs” to look for archetypes present in all of them. Most importantly, she has a middle school level graphic organizer for archetypes. It has boxes for the innocent, hero, villain, mother figure, and happy ending.


  • BrightHub Archetypes has two good activity suggestions.
    • 1. Break students into groups. Give each group a list of common archetypes. Have them choose a familiar fairy tale or super hero tale and identify the characters and what archetype they represent.
    • 2. Keep students in their groups. Give them collage supplies. Assign them an archetype and have them make a collage about it.


  • Learning To Give SuperHeroes as Philanthropsits is a short overview of a lesson on discussing the archetypes of superheroes. Two handouts are included with archetype definitions, information on SuperMan and discussion questions. The definitions are pretty high level.


  • D Harris at USF has written an 11-12th grade lesson on archetypes that has students use Second Life to explore the concept. Awesome if your student still use Second Life. Even if they don’t, he has some good language on connecting archetypes in literature, games and life.


  • Byrdseed Character Archetypes is an overview of a different approach to introducing character archetypes. The teacher creates a collage of images of familiar characters and has the students deduce which characters have things in common (e.g. Dumbledore and Yoda are both wise teachers or something similar), sort the pictures into categories, and infer the archetypes on their own.

Cyber activities

iPad apps

Free worksheets



  • Novel Wise East Archetypes is a worksheet developed to go with the novel East , but could be used with others. Students list character/plot point, archetypal role, evidence, and similar to…

Videos

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| Archetypes in 70 seconds is a 70 second explanation of what archetypes are with pictures. Hosted on YouTube.
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| Character Archetypes is a two minute video showing different archetypal characters through photos of famous characters. It's engaging with easy to understand vocabulary and recognizable characters. Also hosted on YouTube.
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| Film Archetypes is a 60 second explanation of film archetypes like water, trees, devil characters, etc. It's not specifically targeted at archetypal characters.
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| Trickster Archetype is a four minute slide show style video on the trickster archetype with film clips and good examples.

At home

Helpful links

  • Center for Learning has a sample lesson for download on monomyths. Basically, the lesson goes into the hero’s journey in a lot of detail. There are charts and graphic organizers. Good for upper level high school students.


  • Mrob Archetypes is a periodic table of archetypes. The archetypes listed are pretty intensely Jungian, so of limited use in the classroom. The lay out of the site is neat and could provide some good background if you want to go the psychology route.


  • Brook Blaylock Lying to Tell the Truth is an overview of an eighth grade unit on the hero’s journey. The content is okay but the formatting is horrible and the first two sections are pretty theoretical. The end is useful (if you can get past the failed HTML tags).


  • To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader Chapter 2 is a 26 page chapter that focuses on exposing young male readers to positive male archetypes. The article goes through ten different positive male archetypes, gives information on each and gives examples of books and stories that feature these archetypes.


  • Archetypes Storytelling for Survival and Hope on Docstoc is a 26 slide powerpoint on what archetypes and types of archetypes. There are A LOT of different archetypes discussed, but they are well explained, and have good examples. The slide show ends with an explanation of archetypes in Shrek.

Product reviews

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Hero's Journey

Teaching strategies

Graphic organizers

  • ReadWriteThink Hero Log has students write down character traits of the hero, whether or not it’s heroic, and how we learn about the trait.



  • Teacherweb Hero Study Guide is a 13 page guide. The last two pages are another good organizer for identifying the hero’s journey in films.


Classroom activities

  • ReadWriteThink Heroes Made This is a six lesson unit plan on characteristics of heroes. The lessons focus exclusively on the traits that make someone a hero or anti-hero and not on the quest.


Cyber games and activities

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| ReadWriteThink Hero’s Journey Interactive does, as always, win the award for best interactive ever. The student puts in all of the information to create their hero’s journey. Engaging and informative.
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| SlideShare WebQuest the Hero’s Journey is a cute, short web quest.
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| PBS Learning Media The Hero has lessons and materials on heroes for 2-4 grades. It includes a short video clip and several handouts.

iPad apps

Free worksheets

Handouts

Videos

Hero you.JPG
| YouTube The Hero’s Journey is a seven minute piece with each stage of the journey explained and followed by two or more film clips examples.

At home

Helpful links

  • SlideShare Journey of The Hero is an easy to follow 24 slide examination of the Hero’s Journey with pictures and examples from Shrek for each part of the journey.
  • Tatsbox Hero is a great site explaining the archetypal characteristics of a hero with pictures and examples from StarWars, King Arthur, Moses, and more.


Product reviews

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