The Difference between mythological
and archetypal criticism:
- Has references to famous mythological stories in works of literature
- These references are included in the hopes of getting a universal reactions from all readers
- It is similar to a psychological approach because it also is concerned with the things that underlie human behavior
- Myths are symbolic of people’s hopes fears, values, and other philosophical ideas.
· First of all, archetypes are similar ideas, motifs, and images found in many different myths
· Normally defined as “universal symbols"
· Examples of archetypes are images (such as water, sun, certain colors or numbers, circles, the
serpent, garden, tree, desert) “the hero,” "the earth mother", "the soul mate," "the trickster," motifs or pattern, and genres
Using Mythological and Archetypal
Unlike the more traditional form of criticism
that focuses on the history of the author and the piece itself, mythological and archetypal focuses on the history of the
gods, goddesses, and other allusions mentions in the piece that involve mythology. Reason
for this approach:
- Only recently was the proper means to use this type of criticism through the studies of anthropology, psychology, and
- Many are skeptical of this approach, since it appears to lean towards the occult
- There is also much confusion over the definitions of the objects in the actual myths, and the fact that people are
more interested in concrete ideas
Three Different Facets of Mythological
and Archetypal Criticism:
- Anthropology: Anthropological studies began to advance at the end of the 19th century,
and has been one of the biggest influences on mythological criticism. They study
of anthropology have a new understanding to the Greek myths, which are the most well known and often used allusions.
- Jungian Psychology: C.G. Jung was a student of Freud
and psychologist and philosopher, who came up with many new insights to archetypes.
Jung felt that Freud’s approach was too narrow. He contributed to
this criticism approach through his theory of racial memory and archetypes. He
felt that archetypes were not inherited ideas, but a response to certain stimuli. Myths
are ways to show archetypes (ideas) in an actual form.
- The American Dream: The idea of the “American Dream,”
which is relatively new, is considered to be myth in many ways. The characters
created by American authors represent different aspects, both good and bad, of the American Dream. The myth comes from the Myth of Edenic Possibilities, which involves the idea of creating a second paradise.
from A Handbook of Critical Approaches ot Literature, Fouth ed. Guren, et al.