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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Archetypes Part 4: Assorted Shit I forgot to wrap up

I've got family stories to tell, actually, but I promised I'd wrap this up and I hate to leave shit hanging. I'll try and post the family stories tomorrow--they're worth remembering:-)

The points that many of you brought up, as well as the ones I made to Ilona Andrews are important enough to recap, and to add shit to:

* These archetypes were established with male dominated, male written, male critiqued literature--they are going to be heavy on the misogyny. Just stands to reason.

* No genre gets legitimacy without them. That's the way life works.

* The big transition of heroines from the four V's (Virgins, Vixens, Victims, and DEFINITELY Vamps) to the male archetypes indicates that women, in recent years, have been given equal billing in the heroine department.

* That last thing I said relates directly to my snarkiness about relating it all to the almighty penis. If sex=power in the male archetype world, then when our girls move in on the boy's territory, it's going to mean the same thing.

* In the case of our ladies, sex also equals full fledged humanity. Like I said, it's a woman's full-access visa to both saving the world and fucking it up beyond repair--just like the big boys.

* Even though our characters may be striving for a relationship, and working towards the ideal of love, you can write volumes about how love and power can self-annihilate on a planetary scale. That doesn't make the love any less real, or the carnage any less appalling. (I'm firmly convinced that Hamlet loved Ophelia. Fat lot of fucking good that did all the bodies on the stage at the end.)

* Sex itself is not a requirement of the literature--but an opportunity for a relationship that combines sex and power is. (In this case, Kate Daniels IS a Gothic heroine.)

* If anyone wants to argue which archetype a heroine/hero falls under, well, feel free. SCHOLARS HAVE BEEN DOING IT FOR YEARS! The fact is, the archetypes seem to be (and this is wholly my own observation) a sliding scale of a hero's humanity, and his ability to fuck up his life by swapping humanity for power--or by having power and not using it to serve humanity, depending on your character, archetype, etc. No matter how clear you make your scholarly criteria for an archetype, that sort of scale is bound to be up for interpretation. For several years I've shown Gladiator, and had the kids tell ME which archetype Maximus falls under. Sometimes he's an Epic Hero. Sometimes he's a Tragic Hero. Sometimes he's a Romantic Hero--it all depends on the kid and how he or she interprets Maximus' actions. We like our heroes complex--that's why they're not all Epic Heroes, and that's why it's fun to talk about.

* Regarding the Gothic vs. the American Romantic archetypes--they are VERY close to each other--and they emerged in literature at about the same time, only on different continents. In American Literature, the America Romantic hero goes Goth when Poe and Hawthorne write--and they're the closest writers to European literature as any American writer at the time. It seems that the difference between the two archetypes is the difference between royalty and peasantry. If the royalty went rogue, he'd rise above humanity and fell hard and fast--hullo, Gothic. If the peasantry went rogue, even the peasantry with societal heft, well, as long as his ideals were still good, he couldn't wreak a whole lot of havoc. So the across the pond, the rogue hero went Gothic. Over here, he went Bruce Willis.

* (And you knew I had to bring this up.) Supernatural. I've got some theories on the show that relate directly to this discussion, because I think it comes down to this in the end:

Sam Winchester goes Gothic for a couple of reasons:
A. Sam has an education--the American olive wreath, right there
B. Sam's demon blood--it's not that it's demonic, it's that it raises him to the rank of royalty
C. Sam's lack of sacrifice--what has Sam given for anybody in his family? He succumbed to the lure of the power because he wanted to do things the easy way--no sacrifice, no redemption. Just ask his brother.
D. Sam's entire personality change this last season has been to pursue the heroic agenda no matter the human cost. Including his brother.

While Dean stays American Romantic for some archetypal reasons as well:
A. Dean manages to retain his innocence--even when he comes back from hell. He is hurt--he is not jaded.
B. Dean never succumbs to the chosen one idea, unless it's for a chance at redemption. All romantic heroes are pretty big on redemption.
C. They're also big on sacrifice. Hull-o, Dean Winchester-- who hasn't he died for? Except his father, but that really wasn't his fault--he would have done that if daddy hadn't beaten him to it!
D. He forsakes his heroic agenda for his personal agenda in a heartbeat.


And the final addendum to this whole thing--although I'm sure there will be more questions/discussion forthcoming, and that will be fun too!

Big T is ALWAYS asking me, "Is this guy a Gothic hero or an Epic hero? American Romantic or Tragic? What kind of hero is it mom?"

My answer never varies: "Big T--we don't really know for sure until he's dead."

And that's the Goddess' honest truth!

Tomorrow, a tale of a box, a movie, and kids that make me crazy!

3 comments:

KnitTech said...

That was my comment while watching the last two episodes, Dean's really learned to identify and Sam has become indifferent.

Roxie said...

Much as I would love to join the conversation, watching Supernatural just feeds the bats and vultures in my head. Right now I am trying to strengthen and train a platoon of ninja butterflies to take out the bats and vultures altogether.

I wish, oh how I wish I had taken English from you! Can I come down and audit a class sometime? Maybe you'd at least post a reading list and study questions for those of us who can't get enough?

NeedleTart said...

I second Roxie, on all counts. Yeecch, nightmares. And Whee! reading lists.