Archetype Research Project

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AP Literature
8 October 2012
Archetype Research Project
Archetypes are “An inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual” (archetype). Archetypes are central in all cultures across the world and can provide important lessons and outlooks on the common aspects of human life. The journey, is an archetype in which the main character is in search of some sort of truth and typically faces many difficult trials along the way, this can be both physical and mental. While going through these trials a kind of hell is reached and the character must attempt to make their way back to society. Though the journey is not always well liked due to its dark and serious nature, it provides self-confidence and shows society how to react to difficulties they may face in life. This archetype can be found in slightly different forms in the three novels: “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, “The Odyssey” by Homer, and “The Plague” by Albert Camus. Each author uses the archetype, the journey, to express their own thoughts; they create an overall theme or message to influence their readers.

“Jane Eyre” was written in 1847 by Charlotte Brontë. The novel follows Jane Eyre from her childhood as the family scapegoat, through her schooling at a poorly managed charity school, and later when she becomes a governess and falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester. Jane’s journey is in search of the love and acceptance of others, she goes through many trials before reaching her goal. The theme that Brontë creates using the archetype of the journey is: In times of hardship you must persevere and not lose sight of yourself and your morals while striving to find happiness. This is one of the most important messages that she is sending to her readers through Jane Eyre. She does this by giving multiple examples of Jane’s strength.

One example of Jane’s strength is when she struggles to regain her since of dignity and self-worth after discovering, on her wedding day, that Mr. Rochester was already married. This is the most devastating part of Jane’s journey but her reaction to the situation is what builds the theme. “Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be” (Brontë 369). Jane is very tempted to just give in to her weaknesses but she regains her composure and continues her struggle. Jane’s strength is also shown when she leaves Thornfield the night after the wedding. “But I was soon up; crawling forwards on my hands and knees, and then again raised to my feet —­ as eager and as determined as ever to reach the road” (Brontë 374). At this point Jane’s emotional turmoil has gone as far as to cause physical weakness. Which, she also finds courage to overcome. Brontë uses Jane’s strength of morals and self-respect in times of trial to get her theme across to her readers.

The importance of her perseverance throughout the novel is solidified in the fact that her suffering pays off in the end with a happy conclusion after Mr. Rochester’s wife is dead. “I hold myself supremely blest--blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband's life as fully is he is mine” (Brontë 522). Jane would have been very unhappy if she had given in to her weaknesses before she felt morally sound in doing so. This shows how significant her waiting was in securing her happiness in the end.

Charlotte Brontë used the archetype of the journey in Jane Eyre to impact the reader by illustrating the importance of maintaining your moral standards and since of self-worth through times of trial and hardship when you are most prone to weakness. She has exemplified this through the strength and persistence of her main character, Jane.

“The Odyssey” was written by Homer around...
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