Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 9: The Maiden’s Shadow Archetypes – by K.M. Weiland…

on Helping Writers become Authors:

In so many ways, we view life as a story. Within the lifelong journey of this story, the first challenge is that of becoming an autonomous individual—an independent and responsible adult. However obvious that may be, the journey itself cannot be taken for granted. Indeed, although we may all grow up chronologically, the struggle to truly leave childhood behind is one that is often prolonged and even aborted for a great many of us.

Within the model of the six archetypal character arcs, this first initiatory journey is represented by the Maiden. She faces external antagonists, metaphorically (and often literally) represented by the Too-Good Mother, the Naive Father, and the Predator-Groom who would devour her youth and innocence. But she also faces internal danger from the shadowy counter-archetypes that, out of fear and egoism, would prevent her from embracing a new perspective and completing her journey.

For the Maiden, these shadow archetypes are represented by the Damsel and the Vixen. The Damsel represents the passive polarity within the Maiden’s shadow, the Vixen the aggressive polarity.

Before we dig into these important archetypes, I will say a quick word about both of their titles, since both archetypes are currently fraught with controversy in modern portrayals.

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