What are the 12 Jungian archetypes?

What are the 12 Jungian archetypes?

In one of our previous series, we dealt with Campbell’s archetypes. In this article on Narrative Theory, we discuss the 12 Jungian archetypes and facets of the personality that reside within each of us and that show up at different times in our lives.

What are the 12 Jungian archetypes?

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. While in his studies on personality and the individual, he defined several theories.
According to one of these, each of us is born with a primitive model linked to the unconscious. This model, which derives from thousands of years of experience with mankind, is only a starting point on which to build our personality and character.

What does it mean, ‘archetype‘? In Greek, the word ‘arché‘ means original, while ‘típos‘ means model.

In other words, the archetype is therefore the model on which we interpret the surrounding things, the events, and situations in our lives. It is, in simple terms, the basis of our behavior.

12 Jungian archetypes in narrative theory: why?

What do psychoanalysis and Jungian archetypes have to do with writing a story?
These archetypes can be the basis for defining the characters in a narrative.

Jung defined a total of twelve. Each archetype captures a facet of the personality and includes different strengths and weaknesses. These are equally important for emerging goals (more related to the merits) and fears (directly related to the flaws).

The 12 Jungian archetypes

The Innocent

This is our trusting part that comes from the sense of love that parents pass on to each other. It is characterized by happiness and light-heartedness. A character with this archetype often lives in their own world. Among their faults, however, is that of denying problems to avoid confrontation.

The Explorer

This archetype represents abandonment. The Explorer has developed a strong practical sense and is very independent. However, the Explorer is cynical and distrustful of those around them and fears betrayal.

The Hero

The hero is the archetype of the character who acts as a leader, leads the secondary characters, and often is the story’s protagonist. This part of the personality is strong and courageous. On the other hand, their defect is the desire to appear invincible. This archetype takes any situation as a challenge.

The Caregiver

This model contrasts with that of the Innocent. Its characteristic is generosity and compassion. It is represented by the character who acts as a sidekick to the protagonist. Therefore, without the Caregiver, the main character would not be able to complete their mission. Their defect? It is precisely this excessive altruism that also leads to exploiting others.

The Sage

According to Jung, this archetype has an ancestral value linked to the time when in the tribes, the elders suggested to the young people to listen to the older ones.
The Sage is the character who helps the protagonist by making them aware of what awaits them in the near future. The Sage is a wise figure. Their characteristic is wisdom. Too much caution, however, risks creating immobility and preventing the character from acting. This is their defect.

The Jester

The Jester is a funny character who lightens the narrative and the events that the protagonist has to face. All stories have a character with this archetype. The Jester brings a smile to the reader’s face and is who people usually fall in love with because they are likable. Their strengths are sympathy and joy. Their defect, however, is their inability to take things seriously.

The Magician

This particular archetype is very similar to the Mentor in some ways. Thanks to their inquisitive nature, they know many things and can help the protagonist in the same way as the Mentor.
Unlike the Mentor, however, the Magician tries to convince everyone of their theories. Their defect is the tendency to manipulate people and their dishonesty.

The Ruler

This is the archetype of the leader. The Ruler is a character with charisma, a desire to excel over others, and loves maintaining order and precision. However, this archetype is also very suspicious and incapable of delegating precisely because they like to keep control directly.

The Outlaw

Often, the Outlaw is represented by the main character of the story. They are characterized by strong initiative, independence, and perseverance. This is the one who loves to fight to change things. Likewise, their will to change, if not restrained, can turn into an excessive force that leads to significant consequences for all characters.

The Lover

This is the character who believes in love and fights for love. Love is precisely the force that motivates them and drives them forward in the narrative. The strong point is Lover’s devotion toward the people they care about. However, the Lover loves so much and sometimes is melodramatic, even willing to sacrifice their own life or freedom.

The Creator

The archetype of the Creator is present in the one who creates, who sees a world different from what others see. The Creator is an inventor, someone who creates the narrative. The archetype of the Creator is a non-conformist, motivated by trying to express themself. Creativity is their strength but without great practical skills.

The Everyman

The Everyman is a good character who likes to relate to and be in the company of others. Empathy, support, and realism are the characteristics. However, the Everyman doesn’t believe in themself and, in some extreme situations, prefers to isolate themself rather than feel like a burden.

“Archetypes are typical modes of apperception, and whenever we observe constant and regularly recurring modes of apperception, it means that we are dealing with an archetype, regardless of whether its mythological character is recognised or not.”

Carl Gustav Jung

bibisco can define your character’s archetypes

Defining the archetypes and thus the characters’ personalities in a narrative are far from a simple task. The writing software of bibisco helps you to define your characters and their archetype to create their character. To sum up, their actions will thus be linked to the archetype that is theirs.

bibisco's main character section - What are the 12 Jungian archetypes?
bibisco’s main character section


In conclusion, according to Jung, every personality is conditioned by a primordial pattern of behavior, the archetype. This pattern conditions the behavior of the characters in a narrative.
Each archetype has strengths and weaknesses that lead the character to act differently.

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