The Hero Archetype is the most recognizable of all Archetypes. We can all name the character traits of a hero. They must be brave, and fearless, defeat some awful foe, save the world and be altogether marvellous.
The Hero is most prevalent in books, films, myths, and legends. This is because heroes often have an interesting story arc. They may have started off as the Magician or the Rebel, but then circumstances forced them to change. This makes the hero one of the most interesting of the Archetypes.
The Hero Archetype
“The hero’s main feat is to overcome the monster of darkness: it is the long-hoped-for and expected triumph of consciousness over the unconscious.” Carl Jung
By grouping people into categories, we can immediately identify with a certain type of character. We have an insight into their personality, qualities, weaknesses, and nature. In this article, I’m focusing on the most popular of the Archetypes, the Hero.
11 Signs You Have the Hero Archetype Personality
Carl Jung devised the 12 Archetypes. Although storytellers use them in literature and media, studies have shown certain traits are pertinent to the Hero Archetype.
- Conviction: You have the courage of your beliefs
- Protective: You are concerned for the welfare of others
- Empathic: You see things from many perspectives
- Moral Integrity: You have a strong moral compass
- Self-sacrifice: You put other people’s needs before your own
- Selfless: You risk your own well-being for others
- Bravery: You are courageous and face your fears
- Determined: You don’t give up easily
- Strength: You have a strong sense of what’s right
- Honesty: You have no hidden agendas
- Inspirational: People look up to you
Examples of the Archetype of the Hero in Literature and Movies
The classic hero is exactly what you’d expect a hero to be. These are the swashbuckling knights in shining armor. They rise to the challenge, defeat the bad guy, kill the dragon, rescue the damsel in distress and recover the treasure.
Examples of the classic hero: Westley from The Princess Bride, Luke Skywalker, and Harry Potter.
Superheroes are easy to recognize. They have superpowers which are handy when you’re saving the world. Superheroes have become popular over the last few decades. Batman, Superman, and the Avengers have all been re-imagined to appeal to a new audience.
Examples of superheroes: Wonder Woman, Superman, Iron Man.
Everyday heroes are perhaps the most interesting. Typically, they’re reluctantly thrust into the role of hero. They don’t possess hero qualities but step up to the challenge, regardless.
The Everyday Hero has no superpower. However, they do have a strong moral code. These are ordinary people, forced to make a stand in extraordinary circumstances.
Examples of everyday heroes: Sarah Connor from The Terminator, Ellen Ripley from Alien, and Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit.
The tragic hero usually comes a cropper at the end of his story. He might make a series of wrong decisions that lead to his demise, or he may have a character flaw that contributes to his misfortune. We are sympathetic to tragic heroes because we can relate to their weaknesses or understand where they went wrong.
Examples of tragic heroes: Macbeth’s obsession with power, Michael Corleone’s gradual decline from moral-bound son to Godfather, and Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side.
Anti-heroes do not possess typical heroic traits. They are morally bankrupt, flawed in character and rail against society. Anti-heroes do the right things but for the wrong reasons. They might use illegal methods to achieve their goals.
Serial killer Dexter is a great example. He only kills criminals and although killing is wrong on any level, a part of us enjoys the retribution. However, to cover his tracks, he ends up killing innocent people.
Examples of anti-heroes: Walter White from Breaking Bad, Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Captain Jack Sparrow.
Epic heroes are prevalent in myths and legends. They might possess great strength or superhuman courage. They will have a quest or heroic deed to perform. Imagine Spartacus or Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.
Examples of epic heroes: King Arthur, Gladiator’s Maximus, and Jason and the Argonauts.
The Hero Archetype in Branding
Not only are Archetypes an interesting tool for writers, but they’re also useful in advertising. Archetypes are universally known, so they help get your message across quickly and efficiently.
The book “Archetypes in Branding” suggests we can break the archetype of the hero down into four categories:
Brands that use the Warrior archetype want to appear fearless, daring, and courageous. These are the winners of life, the risk-it-all and do-it-anyway types.
Examples: Nike – ‘Just Do It’, the Royal Marines
The Athlete archetype is determined and goal-focused. Athletes are the best in their field; they are the Olympians that work hard to achieve their dreams.
Example: Adidas – ‘Impossible is Nothing’
The Rescuer’s hero qualities are bravery and concern for others in need. Rescuers put the weak and vulnerable before them. This is a compassionate slant on the Hero Archetype.
Example: The Red Cross
Liberators are freedom fighters. They provide a voice, product or service to many. The Liberators are not to be confused with anarchy or a lack of responsibility.
Examples: PayPal, Amazon
Do you recognize yourself as a Hero Archetype from the above descriptions? Even if you’ve realized you’re not the hero, understanding the traits of the hero archetype enriches the narrative of films, books, and plays.
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