Shadow Archetype

What is a Shadow Archetype?

A shadow archetype is a character comprising original characters’ life instincts and is often a shadow or a part of unconsciousness. In fact, they are representations of the personalities of the characters’ represented ideas and desires that have been lying latent in the depth of unconsciousness. These instincts come out or emerge in the shape of other personalities or shadows which try to meet the cultural mores and conventions.

Jung’s Views about Shadow Archetype

As Jung is attributed to have explained archetypes, he is considered the main exponent of these ideas. According to Jung, although shadow archetype characters do not exist, sometimes they merely appear in dreams or visions and become several things. They could be snakes, or demons, dragons, or even some esoteric figures. It could be another side of the psyche through people having shadow archetypes who do not accept this fact in real life.

Types of Shadow Archetype Characters

Although in some cases, such shadow archetypes do not exist and they are just shadows, in other cases, they could be in physical shapes and materialize into what imaginations force them to become. In several cases, they take up highly hideous shapes that force others to take refuge or secure themselves from such figures. In other cases, they become some other despicable creatures. Some of its types are as follows.

  1. Snake
  2. Monster
  3. Demon
  4. Dragon
  5. Exotic Figure
  6. Ghost
  7. Giant

Character Traits of Shadow Archetype Characters

Shadow archetype characters are mysterious, unknown, and sometimes anonymous. They are often associated with disorder, chaos, and even wildness. Some of them may appear in physical shape, while others not. However, one thing about them is certain that they are representations of real characters and represent their dreams, aspirations, visions, and expectations. That is why they resort to violence and torture and even go too far in this to kill others around them. Also, they keep themselves in hiding until such a time comes or when they find themselves exposed.

 Negative Traits of Shadow Archetype Characters

The interesting thing about shadow archetype characters is that they could be positive but this is highly rare. They are almost always negative as they demonstrate the representations of the dark sides of the good characters or at least seemingly good characters. Their negative character traits include cruelty, barbarism, violence, and a conspiring nature.

Shadow Archetype Character Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Although Dr. Jekyll is a well-known doctor who has won public reputation, public approval, and even honor in his community, he turns to evil deeds and dark powers to transform his physical body into Mr. Hyde and commit horrible acts. However, once he becomes powerful enough to transform his body at any time, he suddenly loses this power when he is in his other form. This is a good shadow archetype case, showing the other side of his character.

 Example #2

Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Classed as a world-class criminal, having acumen, intellect, and a deep understanding of the world of crimes, Professor Moriarty happens to appear in the movie of the same title and also in several stories of Sherlock Holmes. He is equal to Holmes in status but quite opposite to him, making him the most successful shadow archetype character in this series.

Example #3

Voldemort in Harry Porter Series by J. K. Rowling

The character of Voldemort appears to have several similarities with Harry Potter, the main and central character of the series. For example, his childhood is as hard and tough as that of Harry, and he leads a very difficult life woven around magic and a magical world. Both are very much fond of love and friendship, and also both want some power to drive around the world. That is why he seems a shadow archetype character in the series.

Example #4

Shadow in A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

The character of the shadow in the novel appears to have originated automatically, but later it appears that Ged is the main focus of the storyline, and he represents that shadow due to his coming-of-the-age happening. He has learned and identified the black part of his own personality that seems to him a shadow. Le Guin’s art also shows her at her best, presenting such a character, representing the same personality but in a reverse way. Therefore, the shadow is a shadow archetype example.