The mythological and archetypal approaches assume there are certain symbols, motifs, and character types that transcend all cultures: these types and symbols are universal and, therefore, appear in the literature of all cultures. The mythological and archetypal approaches stand outside of history to isolate those strands in literature that seem independent of a particular culture. For example, a common myth or archetype would be the Cinderella story: all cultures, from the simplest to the advanced, tell some version of this same story, just as all cultures tell quest narratives and trickster narratives.
Psychological criticism, especially Freudianism, likewise argues that a universal unconscious which transcends any particular culture can be found encoded in literature. For example, since, according to Freud, all young boys experience an Oedipal crisis, we can find this encoded in the literature of different historic periods and cultures, for example, in both the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex and, many centuries later, in the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet. In contrast, Marxist theories of literature reject the mythic to interpret literature as reflecting the context of the particular culture that produced it.