If you have any doubt about what the female archetypes truly are, just think about the most common traits we attribute to them. They are a mother, wife, daughter, friend, lover and nurse. Although each of these traits fits well with one particular gender, each has a slightly different interpretation depending on the person. In addition, there are other archetypes that are also present in our lives but are slightly harder to pinpoint.
The mother archetype is perhaps the most well-known archetypal female characters in fiction. The motherly role is the glue that keeps all the other archetypes in place, especially in stories set in the USA. The mother archetype portrays the nurturing instinct, which is why mothers are so often the first to die in stories. Because women are often killed off-screen in stories, this has an effect on our own understanding of what the archetypes truly are.
The mother archetype is often represented by a woman with children by her side. As children grow up, the mother archetype can transform into the mature woman who understands the value of her offspring and how to be both a loving mother and a responsible and competent professional. After all, without the mother the child would not have been saved.
Another archetypal female character is the wife. Women can easily get trapped into this role because of their inherent emotional bond with their husband. The wife archetype is the key to one’s self-worth. A successful and loving marriage is the key to a happy and fulfilled life, so a woman’s happiness is reflected in her marriage. Hence, the wife archetype can also represent one’s overall sense of self worth.
Strong female characters are also often characterized by extreme confidence. This includes the plucky girl or strong woman, who is capable of overcoming even the most dangerous circumstances with ease. Strong and competent female characters can be portrayed as mothers, daughters, or sisterhoods; they may be independent, powerful, or as loving partners to their husbands and/or boyfriends. In literature, many strong female characters are depicted as leaders of large organizations, business empires, or as politicians.
The best female archetypes, then, are usually those that possess extreme personal confidence or are extremely ambitious, hardworking, and emotionally stable. However, there is nothing necessarily wrong with being a caring, compassionate, and reliable individual. In fact, these archetypes are often present in everyday life among strong and capable women. They just need to learn how to better channel their energy in order to gain the fulfillment that they desire.
Sometimes, female archetypes can overlap with those of traditionally masculine characters. For example, while the plucky girl is often a tomboy-type character, having a strong will and refusing to be pushed around can make her more appealing to some male readers. Likewise, strong independent women are more often shown as the strong partner to a strong man. In addition, some strong, courageous, and sensitive archetypes may act as a father or protectors to one or more children.
While many authors do not realize it, a major key to writing good strong female characters is to make sure that you understand what each character’s motivations are. By doing so, you will know what type of actions to take and which reactions to give to various situations. For example, while strong, confident female archetypes may be physically formidable, there may be little motivation for them to fight off physical attackers or go toe to toe with other strong, brave women in intellectual settings. As such, you will have to provide your readers with hints and clues as to why these particular archetypes are pursuing certain activities or pursue a certain goal. Similarly, you will need to let your readers know what these archetypes will face off against each other. Knowing this information will allow you to write about the interactions and conflicts between these archetypes in a way that does not fetishize these specific types of women characters, but allows you to tell a good story.