Saturday, March 2, 2013

Week 5: A Jungian Interpretation of Fairy Tales

A Jungian psychoanalysis of fairy tales concentrates largely on archetypes, and the collective unconscious. This concept revolves around the idea that people of all eras and cultures have had similar emotional experiences, which are then translated into images known as archetypes. Some archetypes that are heavily represented in fairy tales include (but are not limited to) the motherly figure, the fatherly figure, the hero, the villain, etc. In some analyses, these archetypes represent facets of our inner-selves which can then be translated into the three parts of our psyche that govern our behavior according to Freud- the id, the ego, and the superego.
 When Dr. Mazeroff presented on fairy tales this week, he presented on all of these basic topics and more. He also presented on archetypes which I have never thought of or realized previously, but are heavily represented in fairy tales and modern culture in movies, music, and TV shows. One of these archetypes is the wise old man. This archetype can be seen in characters such as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, and Dumbledore in Harry Potter. The absence or presence of this character in a story strongly influences the development of the protagonist, just as it would in a developing child. Another archetype that Dr. Mazeroff discussed which I had not previously thought of is the shadow. This figure is often represented as a wild, evil, and unpredictable character- which is a representation of the id within an individual. Examples of this character include Gollum/Smeagol in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter.
  As always, I strive to apply what we are learning in class to real life situations. Therefore I started to wonder which archetype I most closely identify with. I found an online quiz at where you answer a series of questions and then from your answers, a pie chart is developed with which archetypes describe you the best. After taking the quiz, my number one result was the archetype of the caregiver, and the number two result was the archetype of the intellectual. I thought this online quiz produced very accurate results for me, and was surprised that such a short and easy online quiz could produce accurate results. 

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