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I love the archetypes of hero and the strong female (as opposed to the damsel in distress). There are tons of stories which apply to these, but I use Star Wars as an example in my classes (lots of archetypes in this one to apply to literary works we read in class). Beowulf (hero), King Arthur (hero), Huck Finn (hero), Julius Caesar (hero), etc. Most of the strong female archetypes are in more modern literature, but we also look at the following for examples: Lysistrata, Macbeth, and The Taming of the Shrew.
I love the Fatherless Hero. Once when I taught high school senior college preparatory English, we examined this archetype then spent an entire semester applying it throughout study of Hamlet, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the film Star Wars. We compared the plights of each hero and contrasted them with each other as literary characters. By the end of the semester, the final exam essay topic was to select which character, Hamlet, Huck, or Luke Skywalker, had the most difficult situation and explain why it was more difficult than the dilemmas faced by the other two.
I might have to go spiritual on this one. I think the Indian epic, The Mahabharata, is probably the best archetype story for me in representing the concept of the quest and heroic duty. Certainly there are more archetypes in this work, but I am fascinated by the heroic quest as represented most poignantly in the scene with Arjuna wondering and questioning if he has the courage to fight against his relatives, his kin. Krishna appears to him in manifold manifestation and reveals to him that "the labor is more important than the fruits of the labor." I think in this one scene, we see the archetypes of the journey and the notions of ethical responsibility. It speaks to me.
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