An archetype is a reference to a concept, a person or an object that has served as a prototype of its kind and is the original idea that has come to be used over and over again. Archetypes are literary devices that employ the use of a famous concept, person or object to convey a wealth of meaning. Archetypes are immediately identifiable and even though they run the risk of being overused, they are still the best examples of their kind.

Romeo and Juliet are an archetype of eternal love and a star-crossed love story.

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  1. Archetypes can be characters or structures. Most often they are referenced as character types (hero, villain, sage, villain-hero, tragic hero, etc), but archetypes can also be structural patterns within a literary framework. Examples of structural archetypes include the quest, the fall, the journey, and the ritual story lines. Ultimately, an archetype is merely a recognizable pattern and can be applied to thematic elements, plot sequences, and character types.

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