Friday, October 26, 2007

On the Subject of Archetypes . . .

The writers over at The Office have used archetypes to create another set of characters every bit as strong as those in Men in Trees, but very different.

Men in Tree’s librarian archetypes, Marin and Jane, are joined by Angela from The Office. Remember me saying that archetypes are NOT stereotypes? I rest my case. If the librarian is efficient and serious, then Angela is the extreme. Even when she smiles, she doesn’t really. Repressed? Ha! I’ll bet she irons herself when she gets of bed in the morning. Is she a carbon copy of Marin or Jane? Not on your life!

Is there a professor archetype on The Office? No. Oh, wait. Dwight! Expert, analytical, insular, inflexible. Jack on Men in Trees is an expert wildlife biologist. Dwight is an expert on everything, or at least in his mind he is.

So, two very different shows, two very different pairs of characters. Jack and Marin. Dwight and Angela. The professor and the librarian.

These are so not stereotypes!

Till tomorrow,


Rachel said...

I love this archetype ≠ stereotype thing.

I would never have pegged Jack on MiT as a professor – just goes to show I don't have a firm grasp on the whole archetype concept.

I have a feeling I will by the end of the TV season!

Looking forward to Sara and the minister tonight – hm, what could their archetypes be?

Lee McKenzie said...

Ah, good question.

Sara is a Waif archetype. Cowden et al would describe her as pure and trusting, but also passive and insecure. Remember Pretty Woman? Classic waif.

The purity doesn't necessarily mean pure in, well, the purest sense of the word. But it does mean "uncorrupted by the mean, cruel world." And a person can experience a lot of cruel, mean stuff and remain uncorrupted.

We haven't seen a lot of Eric yet, but off the top of my head I'd say he's a Best Friend archetype. Stable, supportive, complacent, unassertive. It'll definitely be interesting to see what happens if/when his congregation discovers who he's seeing. But if anyone can convince others to be as compassionate as he is, I'd say it's the best friend.

If you're a fan of romantic comedy - I sure am! - then you've seen the Best Friend/Waif pairing in Notting Hill. Self-effacing bookshop owner William Thacker and poor-little-rich-girl movie star, Anna Scott. I loved that film!