1. The quest – the search for someone or some thing which, when found and brought back, will restore a wasted land or a leader’s illness/disability.
  2. The task – to save the kingdom, to win the fair lady, to identify himself so that he may reassume his rightful position, the hero must perform some nearly impossible deed (EX: Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone.).
  3. The journey –
  4. Sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary to restore the kingdom. Usually, the hero descends to his lowest point, where he is forced to discover truths often concerning his faults. He must accept personal responsibility for them before returning to his world or land.
  5. A second type of journey uses the description of a number of travelers on a voyage, bus ride, or any other trip for the purpose of isolating them and using them as a microcosm of society.
  6. The fall – describes a downfall from a higher to a lower state of being. It is often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as penalty for something done wrong.
  7. The Battle between Good and Evil – do you need explanation? 
  8. The magic weapon – this symbolizes the extraordinary quality of the hero, because no one else can wield the weapon or use it to its full potential.


  1. Light vs. darkness – light usually suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination. Darkness implies the unknown, ignorance, despair, or evil.
  2. Innate wisdom vs. educated stupidity – some characters exhibit wisdom and understanding at situations instinctively as opposed to those supposedly in charge. Loyal retainers often exhibit this wisdom when they accompany the hero on the journey. (EX: Sam in The Lord of the Rings.)
  3. Haven vs. wilderness – places of safety contrast sharply against the dangerous wilderness. Heroes are often sheltered for a time to regain health and resources.
  4. Supernatural intervention – the gods intervene on the side of the hero and sometimes against him.

**symbolic archetypes often help create balance in the story…


  1. The hero – the hero archetype is well-defined into a series of “semi-archetypes”:
  2. Birth – often born in some unusual way, evil person tries to kill hero at birth, etc.
  3. Childhood – often raised by foster parents, little is known about his childhood, returns to future kingdom when grown.
  4. Usually kills a wild beast (or some similar task), marries a princess, becomes king, reigns uneventfully, and somehow loses favor with the gods.
  5. Has some sort of fatal flaw that is the root of many of his problems.
  6. He is driven from his city and sometimes meets a mysterious death.
  7. Accomplishes more than ordinary men.
  8. Has the ability to change the world.
  9. He usually has bravery, strength, selflessness, persistence, cleverness, pity for the weak, no pity for the enemy, etc.
  10. The initiates – the young hero, prior to their quest, must endure some training and ceremony. They are usually innocent and often wear white.
  11. Mentors – the individuals serve as teachers or counselors to the initiates. Sometimes they work as role models and often serve as a father or mother figure.
  12. Hunting group of companions – loyal companions willing to face any number of perils in order to be together (EX: Robin Hood and his Merry Men).
  13. Women – there are several specific types of women archetypes:
  14. The earth mother – she is symbolic of abundance and fertility offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to those with whom she comes in contact.
  15. The temptress – characterized by her beauty, this woman is one to whom the protagonist is attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall; woman as the destroyer (Cleopatra).
  16. The damsel in distress – the vulnerable woman who must be rescued by the hero, she often is used as a trap to ensnare the unsuspecting hero (Sleeping Beauty).


  1. Water – purification, mystery, symbol of unconscious
  2. Sea – unconscious, mystery, timelessness
  3. Sun – masculinity, sky and fire, creative energy, consciousness/knowing
  4. Rising sun – birth and beginning
  5. High noon – maturity
  6. Setting sun – death
  7. Tree – life, replenishes self
  8. Birds – souls of the departed, spirit in motion
  9. One bird – good – oneness, unity, goodness
  10. Flock of birds – bad – disorderly
  11. Blood – sacrifice, covenant
  12. Monsters – one step from chaos, random order of life
  13. Hero fighting monster = fighting against self or chaos
  14. Wind – change

**images often appear in the setting and contribute to the theme of the story.