Summer SAVY 2019: Session 3, Day 4 – Archetypes in Literature (Rising 3rd/4th)
This morning we took the time to go through a process many writers use to really get to know our characters. We want our characters to be realistic and believable as people, even when we’re writing obviously fictional characters, as in fantasy. Students started by considering which archetype best aligns with a character they had in mind, and things just got more and more interesting from there. We discussed personality quirks, emotions in the face of challenges, motivations, obstacles, fears, and relationships to other characters and character archetypes. Some of the questions we considered are fairly deep and challenging, and our SAVY writers posed lots of great questions in return, so we took our time with this discussion and with writing for character development.
Then came the fun part: returning to our writing, full of new insights, ideas, and inspiration. Students showed intense focus and concentration on their writing, and some of us are writing some pretty big, involved stories, so we kept writing all the way until lunch!
After lunch we watched a short film with a recognizable conflict that played out when a mom encounters her son playing a video game instead of cleaning his room. The plot took a surprising turn as our hero (or heroes – there may have been more than one!) encountered a new reality full of threats and opportunities. We analyzed archetypes as they appeared in the film with particular attention to the hero’s quest, or Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell has termed it. After our introduction to Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Hero’s Journey, we returned to our own writing once again.
Later in the day, we discussed ways the Hero’s Journey might appear not only in myths and epic stories like Lord of the Rings, but in our own lives. Students read biographies of real-life heroes to trace archetypes, encounters, and heroes’ journeys, then analyzed how the lives of people like Jackie Robinson, Mother Theresa, and Oprah Winfrey illustrate some of our big ideas about encounters, the Ship of Theseus metaphor, and the roles of education and mentorship in a hero’s journey. While it’s great to have a personal mentor in one’s life, even people we may never meet can function like archetypal mentors when they inspire us and show us how to live out heroic qualities like determination, resilience, service, and persistence. I hope everyone found both imaginative and personal inspiration today!