Northrop Fryes Theory of Archetypes Compiled by Dilip Barad Dept. of English, M.K. Bhavnagar University (Gujarat – India) firstname.lastname@example.org://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/dherring/ap/consider/frye/indexfryeov.htm
• Northrop Frye working in the field of literature defined an archetype as a symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one’s literary experience as a whole.
• Another way of thinking about archetypes is to imagine that in some way it is possible to plot the important aspects of a story on to a graph.• If enough points from several stories were plotted, a pattern would start to appear.• If one then drew a line that approximated the pattern that emerged in the points, that best fit line would be an archetype.
• No story perfectly matches the archetype, and some stories will diverge from the archetype more than others. Still, recognizing that a pattern exists can be a powerful tool in understanding and comparing literature.
• Northrop Frye asserts that all narratives fall into one of four mythos. Each mythos has six phases, sharing three with the preceding mythos and three with the succeeding mythos.
Mythos Grid• Click to edit Master text styles – Second level – Third level • Fourth level – Fifth level
Six phases of each mythos• http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/dherring/ap/consider
• Comedy is aligned with spring because the genre of comedy is characterized by the birth of the hero, revival and resurrection. Also, spring symbolizes the defeat of winter and darkness.
• Romance and summer are paired together because summer is the culmination of life in the seasonal calendar, and the romance genre culminates with some sort of triumph, usually a marriage.
• Autumn is the dying stage of the seasonal calendar, which parallels the tragedy genre because it is, (above all), known for the “fall” or demise of the protagonist.
• Satire is metonymized with winter on the grounds that satire is a “dark” genre. Satire is a disillusioned and mocking form of the three other genres. It is noted for its darkness, dissolution, the return of chaos, and the defeat of the heroic figure.
• The context of a genre determines how a symbol or image is to be interpreted. Frye outlines five different spheres in his schema: human, animal, vegetation, mineral, and water.
• The comedic human world is representative of wish-fulfillment and being community centered. In contrast, the tragic human world is of isolation, tyranny, and the fallen hero.
• Animals in the comedic genres are docile and pastoral (e.g. sheep), while animals are predatory and hunters in the tragic (e.g. wolves).
• For the realm of vegetation, the comedic is, again, pastoral but also represented by gardens, parks, roses and lotuses. As for the tragic, vegetation is of a wild forest, or as being barren.
• Cities, temples, or precious stones represent the comedic mineral realm. The tragic mineral realm is noted for being a desert, ruins, or “of sinister geometrical images”
• Lastly, the water realm is represented by rivers in the comedic. With the tragic, the seas, and especially floods, signify the water sphere.