Female Archetypes

female archetypesYou may have heard the term Archetype, or Female/Feminine Archetype depending on the context. If you’re a lover of literature, theater and greek mythology you may be more aware of female archetypes and their meaning. In the majority if stories we read, or watch, there are female archetypes that line up with the twelve main archetypes that Carl Jung defined. Jung identified twelve types that reveal human motives, values, meanings and personality traits. While there are also variations around each specific type that are commonly used, the root of Jung’s research and philosophy gives an accurate understanding of categories that the majority of people fall in. Jung divided these types into three sets of four umbrella’s determining their intent and purpose; ego, soul, and self. Analysis of Carl Jung’s philosophy goes on to define his belief on the archetypes:

“The term “archetype” has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means “original or old”; and typos, which means “pattern, model or type”. The combined meaning is an “original pattern” of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated.

The psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, used the concept of archetype in his theory of the human psyche. He believed that universal, mythic characters—archetypes—reside within the collective unconscious of people the world over. Archetypes represent fundamental human motifs of our experience as we evolved; consequentially, they evoke deep emotions. “

The definition of these female archetypes can help in determining and understanding the behaviors and patterns of people in your life. By understanding someone’s motivating factors you can better gain personal insight into who they are. Following is outline of the twelve common female archetypes and characters that match their description.

The Innocent

The Innocent Archetype is often the naive, wide-eyed traditionalist. Eternally optimistic, faith based, saint-like and yearns to do the right thing. This could also be the girl-next-door archetype, the ingenue.

The Hero

The Hero is a common archetype in action tv/film, the lady rising from the ashes. To prove strength through courage and courageous acts. The rescuer, the dragon slayer and the crusader. The hero believes in mastery and competence. They are tenacious and carry an air of confidence. Famous hero archetypes include; Joan of Arc, Mulan, Lara Croft, Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games.

The Orphan

The Orphan or the “regular girl,” is often the working class, desire to belong and feel seen and loved. They are down to earth with solid morals, empathy and non-judgement. Their main desire is to fit in.

The Caregiver/The Nurturer

This is the common “mother-figure” archetype. If there’s someone in your life who has a tendency to save, feed, or put everyone else’s needs before their own that is the nurturer archetype. They believe in compassion and generosity, while also making themselves the martyr. They’re altruistic, protective and supportive. Their deepest frustration and disdain is selfishness. Famous Caregiver figures: Mary Poppins, June Clever, Maria from The Sound of Music

The Rebel

The Rebel Archetype is fairly easy to see and define. They believe in shock value, rule breaking, shaking up the system, and absolute freedom. They would prefer to dance to their own drum and actively destroy the norm. Famous Rebel figures; Molly Brown, Pocahontas, Rosa Parks, Madonna.

The Explorer

The explorer believes in seeing the world and taking in as much as the world has to offer. They’re fiercely independent, ambitious and constantly seeking. They value individuality, transformation through change and new experiences. Similar to the Rebel they don’t believe in conforming and would rather be in the world than of the world. Famous figures; Amelia Earhart, Dora the Explorer, Valentina Tereshkova.

The Lover/The Seductress

The Lover’s main desire is intimacy, passion, partnership and commitment. A Lover puts relationships and physical/emotional intimacy first above all things. They use their power of charm and desirability to attain and satiate all of their needs. This is likely the most common female archetype in current pop culture, tv/film. Famous figures; Scarlet O’hara, Lolita, Eva Peron.

The Creator

Per the name, the Creator is the artist, the imaginative thinker and innovator. They believe in cultivating talent, skill and visualization. The core desire of their lives is to feel their creating has meaning and purpose, make art or die. Believers in daydreaming and following their inner voice. The writer, painter, dancer, sculpture are all creator archetypes. Famous figures; most celebrities, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Isadora Duncan.

The Jester/The Spunky Kid

The Jester is the one cracking the jokes, finding levity and laughter in heavy situations. Often has a self-deprecating sense of humor, cheerful, loyal and likable. Their life’s strategy is to find playfulness in all things. Famous figures; Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing, Dori in Finding Nemo, Jean Stapleton on All in the Family.

The Sage/The Truth Seeker/The Librarian

The Sage is the one who seeks truth, knowledge, and self-reflection above all things. They need to have an understanding of the world and often are academics, religious figures, philosophers or teachers. Values the intellectual world, over the physical world. Their motto is, “The truth will set you free.”

The Ruler/The Boss

Power is the goal with the Ruler archetype. They are competitive and dynamic. Having a position of authority and leadership is ideal for this archetype. They desire control, prosperity, and command attention/admiration. Famous figures; Queens, Katherine in Taming of the Shrew, Anna Wintour.

The Magician/ The Free Spirit

This could also be called, “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” which has been referred to lately with indie films and popular Zooey Deschanel character types. The magician believes in the fanciful, in making things happen, frivolity and impulsiveness. They can also be healers, shamans and fantastic storytellers. They do believe that dreams come true and are charismatic emotion-based influencers. Famous figures; Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City, Emma from Jane Austen’s book Emma, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.

Gather a Deeper Understanding

The depth with these common female archetypes can go on and on. Once you’ve defined certain archetypes, whether you’re trying to understand them in your own life or creating characters based on these specific archetypes, you can start to build out an understanding. People are commonly a combination of these types and rarely fit on specific mold. In addition you may want to read the following books on archetypes for deeper knowledge;

  1. Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes
  2. Awakening the Hero’s Within by Carol S. Pearson
  3. Four Archetypes by Carl Jung
  4. Archetypes: Who Are You? by Carolyn Myss
  5. Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell
  6. The Feminine in Fairytales by Mary-Louise Von Franz
  7. King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert L. Moore