Archetypal Criticism

Dr. S. Devika

Archetypal literary criticism is a theory that interprets a text by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes in the narrative and symbols, images character types in a literary work. Archetype denotes recurrent narrative designs, patterns of action, character types, themes and images which are identifiable in a wide variety of works of literature, as well as in myths, dreams and even social rituals. Such recurrent items result from elemental and universal patterns in the human psyche.

Swiss born psychoanalyst, C.G.Jung’s (1875-1961) work speculates about myths and archetypes in relation to the unconscious. According to him, myths are the “culturally elaborated representations of the contents of the deepest recess of the human psyche: the world of the archetypes”.  He used the term archetype to refer to the experiences of our ancestors which get lodged in the ‘collective unconscious’ of the whole race. Jungian psychoanalysis distinguishes between the personal and collective unconscious…

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