Posted: March 12th, 2023

Shakespeare and Archetypes Analysis

Instructions and questions are in the first pdf

Second pdf is information about archetypes

LIT1100 Introduction to Literature University of Northwestern – St. Paul

Shakespeare and Archetypes Analysis 30 pts

 Answer five of the following questions; each question is worth six points.
 Type your responses to each question in a word processing file, answering the questions

to the best of your ability. Be sure to include your name, date and question #.
 For each question, develop a 1-2 paragraph answer, explaining your interpretation and

supporting your ideas with specific references from the text itself (either paraphrased or
directly quoted).

 Use textual support and proper in-text citations for all answers.

1. Which archetypal plot does Shakespeare use in this play? What elements of this archetypal plot are
present? Are there any missing elements?

2. In what ways does Viola embody the archetypal maiden? Are there any inconsistencies in her
character in your opinion (if so, what are they)?

3. In what ways does Orsino embody the archetypal hero? Are there any inconsistencies in his
character in your opinion (if so, what are they)?

4. As individuals, Lady Olivia and Sebastian seem to embody the standard roles of maiden and hero. As
a couple, however, what happens to their roles?

5. The fool character usually speaks a truth or piece of wisdom that no one else will. Identify one truth
or piece of wisdom that Feste speaks in this play (there may be more than one possible answer), and
explain why Shakespeare would use him to speak the truth rather than having another the hero or
maiden speak it.

6. Because archetypes are supposed to be universal, this play should appeal to any culture in any era
on some level. Based on the type of archetypal plot, what aspects of this play would appeal a
modern American audience? Explain why.

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

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