Oh, those Men! . . . part 2

Hero Archetypes :: Leaders who don’t want Leadership

 “You must look into people as well as at them.” ~~ Lord Chesterfield

Hero Archetypes are natural leaders.  And leaders want to lead, right?

Not always.  Hero Archetypes come in many forms.

Alphas are natural leaders in the Hero Archetype sphere.  So are Betas, natural fulfillers of the Alpha’s goal who need no guidance.

Beta leaders will let a true Alpha lead the group while he (she) steps back and runs side missions.  However, faced with a bad leader, the Beta will mutiny.

Alpha Dog leaders get drunk on the power of leadership:  that doesn’t make them leaders.

Two other types of natural leaders will not seek the leadership position in a team.  These are the Gammas and the Deltas.

A true Raider of the Lost Ark
Often called an Explorer, Indiana Jones is actually a Gamma-Destroyer.

the Gamma Hero Archetype: the Leader who Refuses to Lead

The Gamma hero archetype has strong leadership potential but refuses to step into the position, even when a vacancy occurs.

His refusal of leadership does not prevent him from undermining any leader.  A natural rebel, he relishes causing a bad leader to fail. 

Unless something else drives his loyalty, the Gamma will walk away from a Ruler or Alpha Dog.  And he will not look back.

℘ Jung’s Destroyer Archetype is the best match to the Gamma.  Without a Destroyer hero archetype, society will fall into complacency and stagnation.

Gamma-Destroyers force any leader to remain forward-thinking since they represent a force for change.  After all, as Heraclitus tells us, the only constant is change.  

This hero archetype will help us accept that change and propel it into occurring.

 Types of Gammas/Destroyers

The classic leader who refuses to lead: Daryl in The Walking Dead

The Gamma-Destroyer~~

  • Works outside the group as a tangential lone-leader.
  • Analyzes and questions the direction of the team as well as the leader’s plans.
  • Forces leaders to remain forward thinking

The Gamma-Nihilist~~

  • Is the negative form of the Destroyer Hero Archetype.
  • Pursues the necessary change without considering consequences to the team.
  • May pursue change merely to cause change, not to bring out improvement.
  • Works in such isolation that he can be self-destructive.

In the Walking Dead tv series, Daryl is the Gamma.  He can lead, but he won’t.  When he was a little boy, he may have had any leadership tendencies beaten out of him by his violent older brother Murl.  

In the first season, he remains loyal to Murl, but the audience can see him inwardly questioning his brother’s plans.  Only blood loyalty restrains him.

For the Gamma-Destroyer, only belief in the Alpha and strong ties like blood or love will keep him within any social structure.

Indiana Jones is often classified as the Seeker Archetype because he’s an explorer—but is he?  Or is he a Destroyer?

the Delta Hero Archetype~~the Leader who Unifies the Community

Ruled by compassion for all, the Delta hero archetype is a necessary member of any social structure.  Looking through other people’s eyes is necessary when planning the future of any society.

However, the Delta can be stymied by that very compassion.  Compassion may create an inability to take the necessary merciless steps to root out weeds.  Weeds take nourishment from the beneficial plants.  Eventually, society’s weeds will choke out the beneficial.

These Delta Heroes with great plans can get nothing done when their Seconds-in-Command are Gamma-Destroyers who have no loyalty to them. 

Society will often replace the Delta with a dogmatic Alpha Dog / Ruler.  They want someone who can accomplish goals.  Then society will protest the lack of compassion displayed by the elected Tyrant Alpha.

The Delta Hero Archetype must constantly ask if s/he is allowing evil to flourish because of kindness and compassion. 

Shyamalan's The Village
In The Village, Elder Walker desires Alice Hunt but will not reach for her because he is honor-bound to his wife.

This is the very question that needed to be asked by Elder Walker in The Village, a film by M. Night Shyamalan.  Elder Walker was played by William Hurt in an understated performance that showed his compassion and his difficulty with being in the leadership role.

As Delta Hero, Elder Walker’s angst is clear.  He struggles with personal desires that are in conflict with his honor and his position.

Types of Deltas

The positive form of the Delta~

  • Has great plans that will benefit many in society.
  • Will resist personal desires and needs to fulfill his leadership role.
  • Must find a way to temper idealistic compassion with ruthless practicality.

The negative form of the Delta~

  • Is often characterized as a Wuss.
  • May fall prey to a martyr complex.
  • Can become so caught up in plans that s/he ignores the steps necessary to fulfill those plans.

 The Jungian equivalent of this hero archetype is the Caregiver, which many have re-named Protector/Defender.

As humanity struggles, Dale in the Walking Dead constantly works to keep the survivors humane.

This is Oskar Schindler, motivated by generosity and unselfishness.  Community is the caregiving Delta’s primary thought.  This is often to his detriment.  He will sacrifice himself to the group.

Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is another example of the caregiving Defender.

In The Walking Dead, RV-owning Dale represents the Delta leader.  He truly wanted to protect the group.  At one point he argued for someone’s life.  The proof was evident that that someone would be detrimental to the group’s survival, yet still Dale argued.

Team Roles

A quick look at these four heroic leaders can be seen through the system of Team Roles.

Team Role Quick Definition Positive Form Negative Form Jung’s Hero Archetype
Leader Goal-Setter Alpha Alpha Dog Ruler
Follower Fulfiller Beta Mutineer Seeker
Advocate Questioner Gamma Nihilist Destroyer
Unifier Conflict-Resolver Delta Wuss Protector

 

Jung has other archetypes that we would want to consider as heroic—yet they aren’t.

Warrior.  Creator.  Magician.  Sage.

And check out this blogger who has over 50 character archetypes to include in your story: http://jillwilliamson.com/teenage-authors/jills-list-of-character-archetypes/

However, as a purist, I’ll stick to Jung’s list.

Next

His Unheroic Heroes will be our next look at Character Archetypes.

And Coming Up is a two-part focus on Strong Women and their archetypal journey.

~~M. A. Lee

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