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Posts tagged with: archetype cards

So Who is Mr. Darcy?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog called “Using Archetypes to Find Your Story” in which I talked about an archetype system developed by Caroline Myss, and a cool set of cards that I use for character development.

MyssCardsI was a little stunned at how popular this particular blog became, not only among our diverse readership, but within the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood itself.  Our Yahoo email loop kind of exploded for a day or two, especially when Darynda Jones emailed me (publicly) and asked me if I could use the Caroline Myss archetypes to describe Mr. Darcy, the original romance hero from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Have I mentioned that P&P is one of my all-time favorite books?  So naturally this was a challenge I couldn’t resist.  I immediately fired off an email, which sparked more discussion on our Yahoo group.  Eventually the Sisters insisted that I turn my email into a blog post. 

So, here it is, a slightly edited version of the email I sent to Darynda in answer to her question about Mr. Darcy’s archetype.

Dear Darynda,

I just flipped through my deck of archetype cards and I think Darcy would be some amalgamation of a Judge or Mediator.  A Judge balances justice and compassion.  But on the negative side a judge offers destructive criticism.  A judge also mediates between people, and Darcy certainly did a lot of that. 

photo3The Mediator archetype is similar to the judge.  A mediator negotiates fairness in personal and professional life, and has respect for both sides of an argument.  The shadow side of a Mediator negotiates with an ulterior motive. 

When you consider the way Darcy convinced Bingley to leave Netherfield because Jane was an unworthy match, you can clearly see how Darcy was both a judge and a mediator.  And, of course the title of the book gives you a clue, since we’re talking about pride and prejudice.  Darcy spends a lot of time judging people. 

photo1 This points out something I didn’t say in my blog post — you don’t have to give your character just one archetype.  Characters can have more than one. You can blend them.  The archetypes are there to help you brainstorm at the beginning, and analyze at the end so you are sure you’ve got a memorable character with lots of layers.  I always give each of my main characters one archetype and then one of the “child” archetypes.  There are several:  wounded child, nature child, magical child, eternal child, orphan child, divine child.  I think Darcy is probably a Magical Child. The shadow traits for a magical child are pessimism and a disbelief in miracles.  By the end of Pride and Prejudice Darcy is closer to believing that anything is possible.  So he moves through an arc that takes him from the negative traits of his archetype to the positive traits of it.

Also, by giving each character a “child” archetype you can brainstorm a backstory for them that explains why they have these positive and negative traits. 

photo2

By the way, since we’re talking Pride and Prejudice,  I would probably say that Elizabeth Bennet is a Rebel.  She challenges authority and rejects spiritual systems that do not serve her inner needs.  Just think about Lizzy’s verbal zingers and her determination to marry for love and not for money.  And think about how the social system reaches out to grab her at the black moment and potentially destroy her future.  Her willingness to tell Lady Catherine off at the end of the book underscores the fact that Lizzy is most definitely a Rebel.  She’s also probably a wounded child, which means she had to deal with a seriously dysfunctional family.

So, there you have it, a perfectly useless (but really fun) exercise in analyzing the archetypes used by another author. 

So here’s a challenge just for fun.  Follow this link to the Caroline Myss archetypes and try to analyze your favorite book boyfriend.  Post the results below. 

I’ll sweeten the pot, by giving away an autographed copy of Last Chance Book Club, a book seriously influenced by Pride and Prejudice, to one random poster.

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