Posted: March 12th, 2023

Character Archetypes Discussion

1.Review the following four evaluation questions posted below.

2.Choose one evaluation question to complete.


  • Develop a one-to-two paragraph response
  • Cite examples directly from the play (include citations)
  • Explain how the examples prove your evaluation to be valid

Evaluation Questions:

Q1: Wise Man: Which character in the play best fits the archetype of a Wise Man? In your answer, provide 2-3 examples for support.

Q2: Fool: Which character in the play best fits the archetype of a Fool? In your answer, provide 2-3 examples for support.

Q3: Mother: Which character in the play best fits the archetype of a Mother? In your answer, provide 2-3 examples for support.

Q4: Crone/Witch: Which character in the play best fits the archetype of a Crone/Witch? In your answer, provide 2-3 examples for support.

LIT1100 Introduction to Literature University of Northwestern – St. Paul

Archetypes for Twelfth Night

  • What is an Archetype?
  • 1. Instinctive patterns in the collective unconscious of humankind. Figures or patterns that recur in works of art

    from generation to generation.
    2. Archetypes can come in the form of stories, characters and symbols.
    3. These symbols must be shared by different cultures to be archetypes. They must be universal.

  • How is an archetype different than a symbol?
  • A symbol is an object that stands for something else. This can be a letter, a character or a sign such as the American flag,
    a police badge or the Greek letter delta. While these specific symbols have meaning, their meaning is specific to a
    culture or a context. For example, the American flag will only have symbolic meaning in the time period that America

    Another example is in Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark.” In that story, the birthmark is symbolic of man’s sin or
    corrupt nature. However, in real life or in another story or in another culture, a birthmark doesn’t contain that same
    symbolism. Thus, the birthmark is a symbol because its meaning is context-specific and not an archetype, which would
    have to be universally recognized as a symbol of man’s sin.

  • The Archetypal Comedy Plot
  • Comedy is a relative term; every culture’s definition of what is funny varies a little. However, three elements of comedy
    are found in almost all culture’s comedic storylines:

    1. The comedy revolves around a normal or common people
    2. The comedy includes some form of mistaken identity
    3. In a comedy, everyone gets married in the end (or everything ends happily)

  • Archetypal Characters
  • Some character types are considered archetypes because all cultures have the same basic character. There are four
    recognized character archetypes for men and four archetypes for women. The following characteristics define each
    character archetype, however, a character doesn’t have to display all characteristics to fall into that category; all
    examples are taken from popular Disney movies:


    Hero: young, handsome, muscular, courageous,
    strong (sometimes super-strength), rebel or
    Ex: Hercules, Aladdin, Peter Pan

    Maiden/virgin: Young, beautiful, often helpless,
    innocent, is usually saved by the hero
    Ex.: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty

    Wise Man: Older than hero, intelligent, spiritual and
    moral, sometimes has special powers
    Ex: Merlin, Genie, Gill (Finding Nemo)

    Mother: Birth, life, fertility, warmth, protection and
    Ex: Grandmother Willow

    Fool: Usually a physical defect, overweight, usually a
    sidekick, humorous and bumbling, occasionally
    speaks the truth no one else will
    Ex: Sebastian the crab, Dory, Terk (Tarzan)

    Crone/witch: Old or ugly, mysterious, intelligent,
    plotting or conniving (not necessarily magical)
    Ex: Cruella de Ville, Wicked Stepmother

    Devil: Usually offers a trade or exchange,
    manipulative and deceptive, often physically
    attractive and well-dressed
    Ex: Hades, Scar

    Temptress: Older than maiden, younger than
    mother, beautiful, usually dark-haired, sexual,
    deceptive and underhanded
    Ex: Queen Grimhilde (Snow White), Ursula

      What is an Archetype?

      How is an archetype different than a symbol?

      The Archetypal Comedy Plot

      Archetypal Characters

    LIT1100 Introduction to Literature University of Northwestern – St. Paul

    Twelfth Night Characters

  • Orsino, Duke of Illyria
  • The ruler of Illyria. Powerful and a gentleman, he is obsessed with
    gaining the hand in marriage of the fair

  • Lady Olivia
  • , unaware that he himself has a secret

  • Viola and disguised as a man, Cesario
  • The secret admirer of Orsino, Viola comes to work for
    Orsino when having been shipwrecked, she disguises herself as a man and works for the Duke.
    Much favored by the Duke, Viola is entrusted to convey the Duke’s love to Countess Olivia. This
    later causes problems for Viola, who serves her master faithfully, despite desiring Orsino for
    herself and being the unwitting (and unwilling!) target of Countess Olivia’s affections. Viola has
    a brother, called

  • Sebastian
  • who is identical to her male appearance as Cesario; she fears that he
    died when their ship broke up at the beginning of the play.

    (Note: Cesario will be described in the third person as the man he appears to be to the other
    characters in this play, though Cesario is, of course, a woman in disguise).

  • A Sea Captain
  • A friend to Viola, he helps her to disguise herself as Cesario. He initially reports
    Sebastian dead.

    Lady Olivia
    A countess of high social standing and great beauty, her hand in marriage is
    desired by Orsino. She has resigned herself to seven years solitude following the loss of first her
    father and then her much loved brother. Spurning love in all its forms, she shuns Orsino’s
    romantic overtures, but at the sight of Cesario, falls deeply in love, causing many problems for
    Cesario (really Viola). She later marries Sebastian, who looking exactly like Cesario, also steals
    Lady Olivia’s heart.

    Viola’s twin brother. When the ship he and Viola were traveling on sinks, he
    fears his sister dead, as her sister does of him. Frequently mistaken for Cesario, Sebastian
    eventually is reunited with his sister, earlier taking the hand the willing Countess Olivia as his

  • Antonio
  • A Sea Captain by trade, Antonio is a man with many enemies in the Duke Orsino’s
    court. Nonetheless he accompanies Sebastian in his travels. Memorable for the expression,
    “That danger shall seem sport….” (Act II, Scene I).

    LIT1100 Introduction to Literature University of Northwestern – St. Paul

  • Sir Toby Belch, Uncle to Olivia
  • As Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby passes away his time drinking in
    Olivia’s house with fellow drinker

  • Sir Andrew Aguecheek
  • , much to the displeasure of Olivia, her

  • Maria
  • and Olivia’s uptight and humorless steward

  • Malvolio
  • . A great schemer of
    practical jokes, Sir Toby enjoys playing tricks on Malvolio, his friend Sir Andrew and anyone else
    who captures his fleeting attention.

    Sir Andrew Aguecheek
    The drinking partner of Sir Toby, he too pushes Lady Olivia’s patience
    and hospitality with his continuously loud and lewd behavior. Described by Sir Toby as being “as
    tall a man as any’s in Illyria”, Sir Andrew is not overly intelligent, Sir Andrew like Sir Toby having
    little love for the annoying Malvolio and is party to a practical joke against him. Sir Andrew
    however is greatly valued by Sir Toby since he is rich, earning some “three thousand ducats a
    year.” Unwittingly, Sir Andrew is also the pawn in Sir Toby’s plot making. Naive by nature, he is
    manipulated by Sir Toby into pursuing Lady Olivia since this will maintain Sir Toby’s drinking
    lifestyle. Later Sir Andrew is manipulated into challenging Cesario, who becomes a threat to Sir
    Toby’s plans.

    As Lady Olivia’s steward, Malvolio sees himself in a somewhat grandiose light,
    imagining Olivia to love him and wishing to be more than his current rank. This and his
    continuous disapproval of Sir Toby and Sir Andrew’s drinking, earn him their hatred and he
    quickly becomes their pawn in a complex romantic ruse.

    Lady Olivia’s woman, she is patient and tactful where Malvolio is brash and insulting.
    She too, disapproves of Sir Toby and company’s drinking but tries tactfully to subdue their
    boisterous spirits. Her dislike of Malvolio leads her to create an elaborate romantic trick on
    Malvolio, which she also uses to calm down Sir Toby and company, who are now enthusiastic
    conspirators in Malvolio’s humiliation.

  • Feste
  • Referred to in the text as “The Clown” and a servant to Olivia, Feste like so many of
    Shakespeare’s fools, speaks the truth from the source of recognized foolishness. He is much
    appreciated by Sir Toby, who spends many hours with him.

  • Fabian
  • A servant of Lady Olivia’s, he too dislikes Malvolio, and also participates
    enthusiastically in Malvolio’s downfall.

  • Valentine and Curio
  • Gentlemen attending Orsino at the start of the play.

      Orsino, Duke of Illyria

      Viola and disguised as a man, Cesario

      A Sea Captain

      Lady Olivia



      Sir Toby Belch, Uncle to Olivia

      Sir Andrew Aguecheek





      Valentine and Curio

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