12 Archetypal Characters in Story Writing

An archetype character is a character that is recurrent and significant, representing the collective human consciousness. Such characters become role models for other writers to follow and bring an immediate feeling of having come across them somewhere in reality or a fictional world. The top twelve archetype characters that appear in fiction or other literary pieces are as follows.

Example #1

Hero Archetype

The hero archetype comes at the top when it comes to story writing. In fact, this is the first and the complete archetype that has lived across ages from the Grecian to modern and postmodern. A hero archetype has various common qualities and character traits. For example, several of them have courage, honor, perseverance, moral qualities, and features, with some weaknesses such as pride, overconfidence, and arrogance. This is the hubris of a hero that causes his/her downfall. Some of the best hero archetype examples are as follows.

  1. Achilles in The Iliad by Homer
  2. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars
  3. Odysseus or Ulysses in Odyssey by Homer
  4. Beowulf in Beowulf by Anonymous

Example #2

Explorer Archetype

Explorer archetypes or examples of such archetypes that are explorers by nature. They push forward the limits of status and explore something unknown. Such characters often leave their homelands and keep longing to return at some suitable time. Such archetype examples are curious, self-driven, and motivated persons, yet they are never satisfied and sometimes prove highly unreliable. Some of the best explorer archetype examples are as follows.

  1. Odysseus in Odyssey by Homer
  2. Sal Paradise in On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  3. Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  4. Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Example #3

Sage Archetype

Such archetype examples are often old people, men or women, with wisdom, sagacity, and intellectuality at their hands to stay focused, steadfast, and upright and advise others. Such figures offer knowledgeable consultation to the seekers of knowledge and prove father-figure archetype examples. They have wisdom, insight, and experience of mundane affairs, while they exercise extreme restraint and caution, staying hesitant and reluctant at times. Some of the popular sage archetype examples are as follows.

  1. Athena in The Odyssey by Homer
  2. Tiresias in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
  3. Merlin in Le Morte Darthur by Sir Thomas

Example #4

Lover Archetype

Such types of lover archetypes are the servants of their hearts, and their hearts guide their actions in the world. They are romantic and passionate by conviction. They are humanistic and follow the good path despite their irrationality in their love affair and naivete in forming a conjugal bond. Such heroes often do not reach their conjugal bond and die before reaching a mature age. Some of the best romantic lover archetypes are as follows.

  1. Romeo in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  2. Noah Calhoun in The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  3. O’ Hara in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Example #5

Magician Archetype

Such types of archetypes appear in fantasy stories, as the current trend also proves. Magician archetypes are not only disciplined in their profession but also omnipotent and omniscient. They prove, however, arrogant fellows due to their skills which keep them away from achieving the status of a hero. They, therefore, lean toward corruptibility. Such archetype examples are experts in using magic to achieve their ends and make their people feel relaxed and comfortable. Some of the best magician archetype examples are as follows.

  1. Prospero in The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  2. Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings by J. K. K. Tolkien
  3. Morpheus in The Matrix movie

Example #6

Ruler Archetype

Although the ruler archetype examples do not match the strength of the heroes, they sometimes appear to have hero-like qualities. They are not only resourceful in this connection but also have a good and noble status. They demonstrate their omnipotence-like quality due to their being a just ruler having public legitimacy behind them. When they lose this legitimacy, they become despots. In such circumstances, they lose the appeal to the public like before as they stay isolated and keep themselves out of touch with the realities around them. Some of the best examples of ruler archetypes are as follows.

  1. Creon in Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles
  2. King Lear in King Lear by William Shakespeare
  3. Aunt Sally in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Example #7

Caregiver Archetype

The caregiver archetype examples have been placed at seventh in our order of ranking due to the support and assistance that they extend to other characters. They even sacrifice their best things to make others feel good or relieve others from their pains. That is why these types of archetypes are often loyal and honorable persons with selfless and altruistic nature. They, however, lack personal ambitions, which make them somewhat, spineless characters. Some of the best caregiver archetypes are as follows.

  1. Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Samwell Tarly in The Game of Throne Series
  3. Beth March in Little Women by Louisa Alcott

Example #8

Innocent Archetype

Innocent archetypes are often pure characters, possibly a child, with good intentions for all others. Such archetypes often demonstrate moral goodness and prove this through the kind-heartedness and sincerity they demonstrate when in relationships. Such characters, however, are very naïve and are not skilled in dealing with social complexities. They are also vulnerable when they face bullies around them. Some of the best innocent archetypes are as follows.

  1. Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  2. Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  3. Elie in Night by Elie Wiesel

Example #9

Jester Archetype

Jester types of archetypes are comic characters who provide trickery, fun, and laughter at the expense of other characters, their own personality, or through wit and irony. They speak the truth through irony and play tricks with others to make their readers or audiences laugh. They, however, show some insight into human nature through their funny comments. Yet, they could be obnoxious and superficial. Some of the best jester types of archetypes are as follows.

  1. Gravedigger in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  2. Fool in King Lear by William Shakespeare

Example #10

Outlaw Archetype

Such types of archetypes are unique in that they defy commonly accepted conventions and traditions. They prove rebels and outlaws by violating all rules and regulations and even breaking laws. That is why they are titled as outlaws. In one sense, this is an expression of their independent thinking which may be considered a virtue, but in another sense, this is a criminal act. They owe no favor to others as they demonstrate their self-involvement. Some of these outlaw archetypes are as follows.

  1. Moriarty in On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  2. Humbert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Example #11

Creator Archetype

Although it seems that the creator archetype title suggests something having divine power, these characters are just common and normal human beings but with strong conviction about their creative power as well as willpower. They demonstrate a strong focus on the work at hand, do it single-mindedly with self-involvement, and show this to other characters. Some of them may be divine characters but most of them are human beings. Some of the best examples of the creator archetypes are as follows.

  1. Zeus in Iliad by Homer
  2. Moreau in The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
  3. Victor in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Example #12

Everyman Archetype

Such types of archetypes are common people, recognizable and identifiable with common people, and often stay grounded in the realities. They are relatable and common yet have a strong sense of being superior to others. They, however, lack some special powers that they think they have and stay unprepared to face the realities as they think that they are living in reality. Some of the best everyman archetypes are as follows.

  1. Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Winston Smith in 1984 by George Orwell
  3. Leopold Bloom in Ulysses in James Joyce