Character Motivations by Archetype

Topic: Character Motivations by Archetype

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I was reading the Summer 2013 issue of “Novel Writing” published by Writer’s Digest. One of the articles in this issue, ‘What’s The Motivation?’ by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, is about the motivations of characters based on gender archetype.

Below is an excerpt of each of the gender archetypes as listed in the article with a brief of description of each including characteristics, occupations and motivations…

Female Hero and Villain Archetypes

The Seductive Muse

• Physically centered, extroverted, great at listening.
• Occupations: artistic type (poet, sculptor, actress).
• Motivated by: self-actualization.

The Amazon

• Physically centered, extroverted, intuitive, evaluates situations via her emotional response.
• Occupations: realistic type (laborer, activist, gardener, soldier, store owner).
• Motivated by: survival.

The Matriarch

• Physically centered, extroverted, receives information by means of the senses, great at looking and listening, evaluates situations via her emotional response.
• Occupations: enterprising type (politician, lawyer, judge).
• Motivated by: love, belonging and respect.

The Mystic

• Spiritually centered, introverted, evaluates situations via her emotional response, intuitive.
• Occupations: artistic type.
• Motivated by: aesthetic need for balance.

The Female Messiah

• Spiritually centered, introverted, intuitive.
• Occupations: enterprising type.
• Motivated by: aesthetic need to be connected to something greater.

The Maiden

• Emotionally centered, introverted, receives information by means of the senses, great at looking and listening.
• Occupations: conventional type (cashier, flight attendant, bartender).
• Motivated by: safety and security.

Male Hero and Villain Archetypes

The Businessman

• Mentally centered, extroverted, receives information rationally or logically, intuitive.
• Occupations: investigative type.
• Motivated by: self-esteem.

The Protector

• Physically centered, extroverted, evaluates situations by his emotional response, receives information by means of the senses, great at looking and listening.
• Occupations: realistic type.
• Motivated by: survival.

The Recluse

• Spiritually centered, introverted, receives information by means of the senses, great at looking and listening.
• Occupations: artistic type.
• Motivated by: the need to know and understand.

The Artist

• Emotionally centered, typically extroverted (but can be introverted).
• Occupations: artistic and social type.
• Motivated by: survival.

The Male Messiah

• Spiritually centered, introverted, intuitive.
• Occupations: enterprising type.
• Motivated by: the aesthetic need to be connected to something greater than himself.

The King

• Mentally centered, extroverted, receives information rationally or logically or by means of the senses, great at looking and listening.
• Occupations: enterprising type.
• Motivated by: self-esteem and self-respect.

Here are some of the question that came to mind while I read the article….

    Why do character stereotypes come to mind, when I read these archetypes by gender?
    Why are these archetypes based on gender and not by motivation or characteristics?
    Why are some male archetypes ‘mentally centered’, but not any of the female archetypes?
    Why cannot a female be a ‘king’ or ‘businessman’ archetypes?
    Why are there so many archetypes with ‘artistic’ characteristics?
    Where would a more complex character that has multiple motivations and characteristics fit within these archetypes?

In my opinion, the author of this article did not include any good answers to these questions of mine. Therefore, I would be interested to find out what any of you think of these archetypes and my questions.

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About Patty Hammond

I am a self proclaimed fangirl who is disguised as a mild mannered data analyst for an advertising firm. You can find me on Twitter as @pattybones2

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