Caving

http://oddstuffmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/cave-18.jpg
Into the Cave

Spelunking:  the exploration of caves

Stage 7 of the Archetypal Story Pattern (ASP) is Approach to the Inmost Cave, the focus of our last blog. (click here to read)

The name itself—“approach” and “inmost cave”—clues us writers to the multitude of caves necessary for our protagonists’ transformative journey.

WHAT IT IS

A cave is under the earth.  Yes, I know I am Miss Obvious, but I have a purpose.

Spelunking tools include crash helmet, boots, gloves, drinking water, food, and three independent light sources.

Common inhabitants of caves include bats (who navigate by echolation) and blind fish (who sense the tremors in the water).  Most other creatures stay near the natural light sources, using the cave only for a refuge or a lair.

For writers, “caves” lets us know that we are venturing deep into the dark unknown of our protagonists’ psyche—and our own.  We writers reveal much about ourselves—unknowingly—in our writing, especially our first ½ million words and often twice beyond those.

Caves—in literal fact and in our subconscious—are labyrinthine.  Monsters may lurk:  Who is predator?  Who is prey?  Who is both?

Okay, enough with Miss Obvious.  Here’s Miss Purpose ::

Such caves require hard choices—and our protagonists have been deciding and discerning and distinguishing since they abandoned their Ordinary Worlds and embarked on their journeys.

  • Through the tasks, they have delved deeply into antagonistic levels that revealed their own strengths and weaknesses. 
  • They don’t know who or what the monsters are, and they fear they themselves are one of those monsters. 
  • They don’t understand the means of navigation. 
  • And they don’t have three independent light sources.
WHAT IT ISN’T

The Inmost Cave of story is not a cage.  It’s not a prison.

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/80000/velka/green-labyrinth.jpg
A well-tended green maze is certainly not a labyrinthine cave.

The Ordinary World could have been a cage, but the protagonists have escaped it.  Even when the Dear One of the OWie returned to lure the protagonist back, they continued on.

The Inmost Cave is not a maze.

It can be labyrinthine, with blocked or twisted passages. 

A maze, though, is a puzzle that can be easily solved.  It lacks its minotaur, half-man and half-beast, waiting to devour the unwary. 

A maze can be an amazing walk, but it needs no thread to guide our Theseus-like protagonists in and out of the unlighted passages.

THE INMOST CAVE

Joseph Campbell [Remember him?  From way back in mid-January > click here for a reminder] places the Ordeal in the Inmost Cave.

The terminology of “Inmost Cave” requires a series of caves:  the entrance, the journey into, the first vaulted emptiness, more passages, perhaps more caverns, and finally the deepest, darkest location.

We journeyed through these first locations, didn’t we?  The C2A, the Mentor, the 1st Threshold, the Tests.  Now, finally, we are heading down to our Ordeal.

Subconscious fears arise in even the most seasoned spelunker when equipment fails while exploring a new cave.

  • The fear of being lost, of being left alone.
  • The crushing weight of earth
  • The claustrophobia of enclosed spaces
  • The utter darkness that hides dangers:  creatures, projections, freezing water, and abysses.
  • The complete devastation of losing the way and being forever trapped.

Senses heighten in these situations.  Adrenaline kicks in.  Only the most stoic can hide their emotional reactions;  they still have them.

No one escapes emotions.

Not even our protagonists.

THE DARKNESS OF THE INMOST CAVE

What fears plague the protagonists?

Unforeshadowed fears cannot undermine our protagonists in the Ordeal.  Plan for them.

  • Ibn in 13th Warrior suddenly announces his fear of heights as he must slide down a rope from a higher ledge into water.  The audience cannot appreciate his fear.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark left a snake in Indiana Jones’ seat as he flew away from his first encounter with danger.  The audience, therefore, anticipated and understood his fear as the last torch flickered out in the pyramid.

Fear is not the greatest darkness a protagonist confronts.

Evil is.

PERSONAL DARKNESS

The darkness in us all is our greatest struggle.  We have dropped into the abyssal inmost cave that our humanity most struggles against.

And the greatest evil?  It’s the loss of our humanity, the higher and nobler motivations that elevate us above the animal.

How do we lose that humanity and sink into evil?  It’s revenge.

Revenge, rather than justice, is the greatest evil when facing our antagonist.

Revenge is not justice.  The ancient Greeks understood that, when they named justice Themis while they named revenge Nemeis … and the Erinyes, the undeterred Furies … and the Harpies, Zeus’ hounds of Hades.

Medea About to Murder Her Children by Eugène Delacroix (1862)

What can revenge compel the protagonists to do?

The villain in The Incredibles wants revenge based on an early rejection.  Rejection seems a silly motive–until you examine the last Iron Man movie and Girl on a Train and Wuthering Heights and Dido of Carthage and James Bond’s villains and more and more.

In the Hobbit, Bilbo confronts Smaug, intense greed representative of the dwarves’ greed—and mirrored in the greed for the Ring itself that Bilbo and then Frodo (and Golum) must confront.  Smaug wants revenge.  The dwarves want revenge.  Bilbo avoids it.

Medea is rejected, abandoned, and cast out.  For her revenge on Jason, she kills a princess, a king, and her own children.

Hamlet’s father is murdered. He kills Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (deliberately causing their deaths is murder), and Claudius.  Ophelia, Laertes, and Gertrude are also killed in the maelstrom of his revenge.

Revenge has unintended consequences.  How many superheroes contend with villains motivated solely by revenge? 

Every crime, every terroristic act, and every war—revenge starts all of them.

Remember that as you prepare the protagonists’ Ordeal.

WRAPPING UP

The Ordeal is the greatest suspenseful moment and the darkest action of the ASP.  It occurs at the 75% mark of the story.  Everything has built to this apex.  It is the Crisis, not the Climax.

The Road Back and the Resurrection of the Evil (Stages 10 and 11) are still to come.

How can the Ordeal seed the difficulties in these two stages?  Here’s a clue:

Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together. ~ Goethe

Revenge isn’t kind.  Remember that.  The Ordeal will be all-out hatred.

Join us on the 20th for a discussion of the essentials of the Ordeal.

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