Jungian Archetypes in The Lord of the Rings
Collective & Personal Archetypes
Here are some Jungian archetypes, part of the collective unconscious (e.g. in the examples below from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings), & part of your personal unconscious. Each archetype corresponds to imagos in myth (e.g. Greek myths), fairy tales, & other stories. Like many of the collective & personal archetypes, each of these archetypes has a positive & a negative form. (Sauron is as much an archetype as Aragorn!).
All of these forms might be part of our conscious &/or unconscious; often we repress some archetypes while over-accentuating others. In Jungian theory, balance is needed, & a conscious integration of all the now-unconscious archetypes into our whole individuated Self (Pearson, 1991).
Pearson, C. S. (1991). Awakening the heroes within: Twelve archetypes to help us find ourselves and transform our world. New York: HarperCollins.
Pearson’s Twelve Archetypes
1. The Innocent: like a child, the innocent archetype within us establishes the persona, wants us to be loved, to be socially acceptable. Trusts others (naively), optimistic. (Sam Gamgee, Pippin)
Negative form: denial of responsibility, or that one you trust can be harmful or at fault. (Example of negative form: Theoden’s trust in Wormtongue.)
2. The Orphan: a survivor, the orphan adapts to protect ourselves from harm, can banish parts of us to the unconscious if they are not accepted or approved of. Has been abandoned or disillusioned (eg by parents) & now seeks safety. (There are several orphans – Aragorn before he accepts his role as King & leader, & Frodo – both are literally orphans).
Negative form is a wounded, victim mentality that can justify harmful behaviour, or a sense of unworthiness, self-hate & despair. (Example of negative form: Smeagol/Gollum.)
3. The Warrior: the hero within, our courage, strength, & integrity. Fight for our principles & values, claim our power in the world & seek to do our best. (Aragorn, & Frodo (clearly in the book), & all the Fellowship, Eomer & Eowyn, Boromir & Faramir).
Negative form: one who competes or fights to win, who use their power to destroy or conquer for selfish purposes. (Example of negative form: all those orcs, the Balrog).
4. The Caregiver: the part of us that is the perfect caring parent. Loving & responsive, giving. (Elrond at the end. Theoden to Eowyn.)
Negative form: if we provide care from an innocent or orphan part, as a way to get approval or deny our own needs, it exhausts the caregiver & “devours” the one who is cared for. The martyr, or the smotherer, the co-dependent. (Example of negative form: Denethor).
5. The Seeker: the part of us that starts us on our journey, that urges us to seek the goal, to listen to the call of Spirit. The urge to find or make a better world or life. (Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn, Arwen, Legolas when he hears the sea).
Negative form: excessive ambition, pride, presumption (Example of negative form: Saruman, Denethor.).
6. The Destroyer: the experiences we have or choices we make that destroy the old life, in order to help us grow & change. Death of the old ego or “little self” before the re-birth of the new Self. (Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, Treebeard).
Negative form: harm or destructiveness to self or others. (Example of negative form: Saruman, Sauron).
7. The Lover: the urge to attach, to bond with someone & commit to another, & transcend self-interest, the part of us that allow passion for another, or for beauty or a cause. (Needless to say, Aragorn & Arwen, also Faramir & Eowyn, Sam & Rosie.)
Negative form: depraved or destructive lust, sexual addiction or jealousy, or Puritanism.
8. The Creator: the urge to create, ourselves, our lives, or in our work or art form. (A good resource for your creative self is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I highly recommend it!). (Bilbo’s book, Gimli’s craft.)
Negative form: obsessive or destructive creation, workaholism. (In a negative way, Saruman (created the Uruk-hai, industrialized Isengard) & Sauron(created orcs, Barad-ur).
9. The Ruler: After the hero’s journey as preparation, the exercise of leadership, responsibility, rulership & mastery, symbolically – really self mastery of oneself & one’s life. The king that the hero finally becomes after his heroic adventures. (Aragorn, Faramir, Eomer).
Negative form: the tyrant, the control freak. (Example of negative form: Saruman & Sauron; Theoden (at first) & Denethor).
10. The Magician: transformation of reality by changing consciousness (of self &/or others), the healer or shaman. A sense of connectedness with the whole, nature & spirit, that this part of you can consciously connect to. (Gandalf, & Galadriel. Aragorn as ranger & as healer).
Negative form: evil sorcerer or shaman, pursuit of power to harm not help. (Example of negative form: Saruman & Sauron).
11. The Sage: Rather than control or change the world, your life or yourself, the Sage within you seeks to understand, to find truth & wisdom. Our wisest self, which speaks in those moments of illumination or understanding, that knows what our conscious self denies (eg our addictions & defenses). (Elrond, & Faramir (in the book, though not so much in the movie). Tom Bombadil in some ways.)
Negative form: unfeeling, critical, judgmental, or “ivory tower”. Feeling of knowing more than others, or feeling above it all. (Example of negative form: Denethor).
12. The Fool: the “wise fool” who with his joyful humour points out to ourselves our limitations & conceits, our follies. It is the playful & fun part that is creative, curious, unconventional & free of attachment & care. (Positive is definitely Tom Bombadil! Pippin & Merry in the Fellowship of the Ring)
Negative forms: include the malicious trickster, or the irresponsible, lecherous or drunken fool. (Example of negative form: Smeagol/ Gollum in his capering & treachery.)
Here are some Anima archetypes, archetypes of the Feminine (for both men and women), in the collective (The Great Mother, Virgin Mary). Although patriarchal societies have repressed the ancient archetype of the Goddess for millennia, by reducing the Goddess to consort or daughter in ancient Greece, or by trying to exclude her altogether in Judeo-Christian mythology, the power of the image of Mary as the Mother remains in Christianity. See Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women (1984).
Examples in popular culture of forms of the anima archetype include Princesses (real ones and Disney ones) and in the personal unconscious, the anima archetype would be your own mother, grandmothers, sisters, female role models, etc. Many of these reflect imagos of female figures in myth & story. Again, awareness of the unconscious, repressed archetypes, & conscious integration & balance is needed. Of course, there are also male archetypes: see Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Gods in Everyman: A New Psychology of Men’s Lives and Loves (1989).
As with Pearson’s archetypes, Anima archetypes can be positive or negative. There are dark destructive forms of all of the following. In your personal unconscious, these could be the result of female figures in your childhood or adolescence who were wounded and/or wounding.
From: Zweig, C. (1990). To be a woman: The birth of the conscious feminine. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
And: Bolen, J.S. (1984). Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women
Five forms of female archetypes: the girl (child), the “virgin” (the adolescent), the “mother” (the woman), the “crone” (the elder, older women); the “dark goddess”.
The Girl: the girl child, the innocent. Different examples in fairy tales, like Gretal (in Hansel & Gretal), etc.
The Virgin/Adolescent: The virgin archetype. In Greek mythology, Artemis (goddess of the Moon), Kore/Persephone (daughter of Demeter).In Christianity, the Virgin Mary. In fairy tale: Snow White, Grete in Snow Queen, Cinderella, Beauty (Belle), the little mermaid (Ariel), etc. Popular culture: Lady Diana Spencer before her marriage. Buffy was a great example of a warrior type girl.
The Mother/Woman: The mother or woman archetype. In Christianity, Mary, mother of Jesus. In Greek mythology, there are many forms, each representing different manifestations of the feminine. Includes Aphrodite (goddess of beauty & love, sexuality, Marilyn Monroe types), Athena (goddess of wisdom, and war, Xena or Wonder Woman types. The high achieving father’s daughter, focus on work); Demeter (goddess of grain, mother of Persephone), Hera (wife of Zeus, goddess of marriage). Also Hestia (hearth & home – Martha Stuart?) In popular culture, Princess Diana, who was definitely a projection of an Aphrodite figure, was also a protective & loving mother figure, & a projection of someone who would stand & fight the establishment for herself & for others in her charity work. She was not a good example of a Hera.
The Crone: The elder, the wise grandmother archetype. In Christianity, St. Anne, Mary’s mother. Mother Teresa. Galadriel, the wise elven witch/sorceress in The Lord of the Rings, is actually Arwen’s grandmother. The wicked witches in every fairy tale are negative forms of the Crone.
The Dark Goddess: the manifestation of the destructive powerful Feminine (e.g. the goddess of the underworld in many mythologies, Hecate in Greek mythology, Shiva). Repression of the Feminine gives the dark goddess power to destroy.