1 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Reading Curricular Calendar Centers, Middle School, 2015- 2016
Dystopian and Fantasy Literary Device Center: Archetypical Characters
Overview Archetypes are characters or plots that are common in literature, and some say in life. Many people consider them universal – meaning that they apply to all people and cultures. The character archetype in fiction shows up in all fiction, but especially fantasy and science fiction. Dystopian is a subgenre of fantasy and science fiction which contains a lot of archetypes. Many authors and readers like archetypes because they are easily recognizable and are often a short-cut to communicating what a character is and how the character might relate to the theme.
There are a few common archetypes. On the attached sheet are descriptions of a few archetypes as well as some familiar examples. Look over the descriptions with your team. Then choose one or two activities so you can practice reading with archetypes in mind.
Task 1: Study the painting. (see Web Gallery of Art, http://www.wga.hu/index.html Search for Sadoma’s "St. George and the Dragon") Identify the archetypes you see. Then jot what you noticed as well as your reflections on these questions: • How do you know which character is which archetypes? • Why do you think the painter used archetypes in the painting?
Task 2: Watch the video clip of this trailer for an old movie called Willow with the lens of archetypes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZFtUwAs0wk Identify the archetypes you see represented in the clip. Then jot your reflections on these questions in your notebook after talking with your team: • Which archetypes did you see interacting with each other? • How does knowing the archetypes help you to begin to think thematically about the film, even in a short clip?
Task 3: Read the short excerpt from The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. Working with a partner or your team, answer the following questions in your notebook: • What character archetypes are you noticing? • What characters from other stories do they remind you of? • How does thinking about the character archetype affect your thinking about the passage?
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Character Description Example
The Hero The hero is often the main character, Harry Potter mainly good, who must go against evil, Alice usually by him or herself. Often the hero Frodo does not want to be the hero, and is Princess Anna called the ‘reluctant’ hero.
The Mother This character is often female, but not Mrs. Weasley always. They can be a mother, but can Glinda the Good Witch also be an aunt, a grandfather, or any Cinderella’s Stepmother caregiver in a parental role. They often deal directly with the hero. Mostly for the good – but not always
The Mentor This character is often a teacher and a Dumbledore protector for the hero. He or she is Obi-Wan Kenobi usually very wise. Often the mentor Alfred (Batman’s butler) cannot go with the hero all the way to the end of the quest.
The Villain This character is often evil and must be Voldemort confronted and stopped by the hero. The Big Bad Wolf The villain might not have always been The White Witch evil. Often there is some sort of connection between the hero and the villain.
The Faithful Friend This character is usually the one who is Hermione closest to the hero. They might help the Samwise hero on his or her quest, or even be the R2D2 reason the hero is going on the quest. Robin They are good and true to the character.
The Doppelganger This archetype is complicated. Often the Harry had many shadow versions Doppelganger is the evil side or version of himself, some say, including of the hero. But, it could also be a look- Voldemort alike, a twin, a shadow self, or past or Leia future version of the hero. They are not Bizarro always evil. They do represent the many facets of self.
The False Friend This is often a character who was once Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) trusted, but then betrays the hero. They Mr. Tumnus can redeem themselves, but don’t always.
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Excerpt from The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
CHAPTER 1: Warriors in the Mist
The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards. From the towns in its high valleys and the ports on its dark narrow bays many a Gontishman has gone forth to serve the Lords of the Archipelago in their cities as wizard or mage, or, looking for adventure, to wander working magic from isle to isle of all Earthsea. Of these some say the greatest, and surely the greatest voyager, was the man called Sparrowhawk, who in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage. His life is told of in Deed of Ged and in many songs, but this tale is a tale of the time before his fame, before the songs were made. He was born in a lonely village called Ten Alders, high on the mountain at the head of the Northward Vale. Below the village the pastures and plowlands of the Vale slope downward level below level towards the sea, and other towns lie on the bends of the River Ar; above the village only forest rises behind ridge to the stone and snow of the heights. The name he bore as a child, Duny, was given him by his mother, and that and his life were all she could give him, for she died before he was a year old. His father, the bronze-smith of the village, was a grim unspeaking man, and since Duny’s six brothers were older than he by many years and went one by one from home to farm the land or sail the sea or work as smith in other towns of the Northward Vale, there was no one to bring the child up in tenderness. He grew wild, a thriving weed, a tall, quick boy, loud and proud and full of temper.
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