Scapegoat Archetype

What is a Scapegoat Archetype?

The characters presenting the scapegoat archetypes are types of characters who become wittingly or unwittingly responsible for all misdeeds, misadventures, mistakes, and other bad actions of all the members of a group or even a social group. They could happen to be present at some critical juncture of history or could be in some social groups or even witness to revolutions. They take all the bad things and upheavals upon themselves, seeing their helplessness in explaining the real situations and ensuring their safety in their immediate flight.

Types of Scapegoat Archetype Characters

Although it is common that a scapegoat archetype character moves out of the ambit of the main events and disappears, he/she remains present through his/her absence. Therefore, it depends on the circumstances what sort of a scapegoat archetype could be. It also depends on how a scapegoat handles the situations and in what situations such characters could be present. For example, they could be religious figures, or religious scapegoat archetypes, revolutionary scapegoat archetypes, political scapegoat archetypes, military scapegoat archetypes, social scapegoat archetypes, or even financial scapegoat archetypes.

Character Traits of Scapegoat Character Archetypes

The scapegoat archetype characters have many positive traits that lead them to have a good public perception in the far future. They often take all the allegations of others on them and become the sources of all social or political ills despite having an innocent persona. Although most of such characters are just individuals, sometimes they could be a group, taking responsibility for all the misdeeds and misadventures of others. They are, however, innocent and simpleton in that they become scapegoats but do not harm others or even think of harming the opponents. That is why most of such characters evoke feelings of pity among the readers.

Negative Traits of Scapegoat Character Archetypes

The scapegoat archetype characters are mostly innocent and simpleton, yet they have some negative traits. The first one is that they do not have the courage to confront the opponents when they allege them of the wrongdoings and attribute them causing all the wrongs to the social fabric. In some cases, such characters try but think it futile to present their cases, believing in their innocence and good nature, which does not seem enough in such circumstances. Their gullibility and naivete lead them to face such a flight in which they become full scapegoats.

Scapegoat Archetype Character Examples from Literature

Example #1

John in The Scapegoat by Daphne Due Maurier

Published in 1957, this novel presents the character of John, an English teacher visiting France who comes across his doppelganger and decides to change not only his name but also his very figure and identity. In this effort, he comes across several people, including his own family, the family of his doppelganger, and the world around him. This constant flight makes him a good scapegoat character in the novel as the title also suggests so.

Example #2

Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

He is another character who proves to be a good scapegoat archetype as he flees and becomes the source of all ills in his absence. When he rapes the white lady, he instantly becomes a source of evil as well as all the ills that befall upon his community. Although Atticus Finch knows about Tom and his innocence, his best efforts to save his life and reputation fail. Thus, he proves a good case of the scapegoat archetype character.

Example #3

Snowball in Animal Farm by George Orwell

Although Snowball and Napolean work together for the revolution on Animal Farm and succeed in changing the regime, Napolean takes the other route and succeeds in expelling Snowball to become the all-powerful leader. After his absence, everybody on the farm alleges that Snowball is the source of all ills and wrongs on the farm. Although he is absent, he is allegedly behind every attack on the farm, the reason that every animal considers him responsible for all the ills. Thus, he seems a good scapegoat archetype.

Example # 4

Goldstein in 1984 by George Orwell

The novel 1984 is another good example of having a good scapegoat archetype character in it. It shows that Goldstein becomes a scapegoat archetype in that he becomes the center of public attention so that the regime cannot be allegedly targeted. Although Orwell identifies him with certain physical features, his becoming of the scapegoat archetype goes well with the line of the government.