Definition: An archetype is a symbol that appears in literature, but there are also generalized patterns of archetypes that can be found through time and across cultures. When we study literature, these symbolic threads can be seen in plot elements, the setting or background, and/or character development. The development of these characters in a work of literature may be done on an unconscious level by the author, the author may recognize a pattern in work and further build upon it--to accomplish a desired dramatic effect.
Archetype has sources in anthropology and Jungian Theory. The term has been defined is a "primordial image," which transcends the individual experience. An archetype appears in myths, but can also be seen as a thematic or figurative dimension in literature, involving exile, rebirth, earth goddess, etc.
Common Misspellings: archetip, archtype, arctype
Examples: According to Carl Jung, there are four main forms of archetypes: the self, the shadow, anima, and animus.