The first four archetypes that I will discuss are the Mother, the Child, the Virgin and the Sage. These are the standard archetypes for all women, but in a way these represent the foundation of womanhood itself. As every mother knows, these are the archetypes that shaped her into who she is today. But do these archetypes still have relevance today?
In understanding the purpose of each of these archetypes, it will help to look at each one individually and discover just how it can be of use to you. The mother archetype is what I would call the “help people” archetype. The mother archetype is the classic nurturing figure. And this is what many women look up to as an ideal role model.
The Child archetype is what many children learn to fear. Since childhood most children have learned to fear their mothers because of the fear of losing their love and protection. This is why women, as children, will oftentimes dress up in revealing clothing to make themselves appear desirable to their prince charming. It is a coping mechanism that helps them feel secure in their relationship with their caregivers. The child archetype also helps women feel protected by giving them an identity separate from that of their caregiver.
The Virgin and the Sage are two other common female archetypes. The Virgin is often depicted in arts and literature as a divine being sent from the gods. The Virgin archetype represents purity and innocence, while the sage archetype represents one that is full of wisdom. When the two archetypes come together it creates the character of a Wisdom Sage.
The fourth of the female archetypes, which is the Enchantress, shares a common trait with the Maiden. In many customs and religions of the Enchantress is seen as a powerful and dangerous woman. She is sometimes represented by the wild side of a woman, usually one who has been driven by the desire for power and independence. She can represent a desire to be independent or she can be symbolically tied to the menstrual cycle. The four female archetypes, if they are represented by one character in literature, would make for a very powerful and interesting archetypal character.
The Wild Woman is often represented by a powerful and dangerous woman. Often times represented by dark and intimidating women, the Wild Woman is the opposite of the typical nurturing feminine character. A Wild Woman may be the bearer of bad news or the enchanter, depending on the story. She may be known for her sexual promiscuity or she may be known for being a sensuous and dangerous seductress. The Wild Woman archetype can represent a woman that is strong and independent or she can represent the dangerous and vixen side of a woman.
The Inspiration is another of the female archetypes and is associated with the creative impulse. The idea that the Inspirational is a person with a great imagination can represent how those with high self-esteem can be drawn to do great things. However, being the architect of your own self-worth may not be a good thing. The character is usually a person who pushes the boundaries of social norms and enjoys the unexpected.
One of the most common female characters archetypes is the Mother. Although traditionally seen as the nurturer and protector of children, the maternal role can also be reversed and be applied to the family’s caretaker, or even self. The concept that the motherly role can be reversed in literature is very interesting and shows just how versatile the archetypal female characters can be. Women can be viewed as the nurturers and guardians of children, lovers, or even career women depending on the specific story.