Tale as Old as Time: Archetypes in Beauty and the Beast
"There is a certain typical hero sequence of actions, which can be detected in stories from all over the world, and from many, many periods of history."
—Joseph Campbell, in The Power of Myth
The idea of the hero’s journey suggests that the adventures heroes and heroines undertake in many of our beloved stories follow a similar pattern. By broadly outlining these stories, you can see they contain characters and plot elements also found in fairy tales and legends from different cultures.
These characters can be fit into molds known as archetypes, a concept which psychologist Carl Jung laid out in a framework and Joseph Campbell popularized. Archetypes are template or stock characters you see reappearing in various cultures and across time, such as the hero, the villain, the goofy sidekick, or the wise elder.
This Student Activity explores how a classic and well-loved fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” can be distilled into archetypes of character and plot. It offers you a guide to recognize and analyze these archetypes when they appear in other stories and mediums.