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Platonic Archetypes

Archetypes are an essential item in the literary world. Archetypes provide writers with the luxury to entertain and even educate their audiences. Archetypes are among the few literary tools whose major use is in fiction. We are going to learn about a particular type of archetype that writers can use to make their work interesting. Have you ever heard of Platonic ideal archetypes?

The definition of Platonic archetypes

Plato’s theory of forms and platonic archetypes are almost the same things. They bear a lot of resemblances so writers may easily confuse one for the other. Plato’s archetypes and theory of forms were conceived during Plato’s time (between BC 420s to the 340s). Platonic archetypes refer to Plato’s ideas which are pure mental forms etched in the soul even before they were brought into the world. The ideas that Plato refers to in Platonic archetypes are independent in every person’s mind and they also exist outside human minds; they are real. Philosophers refer to Plato’s archetypes as “essence” to avoid confusing Plato’s archetypes for Plato’s theory of forms. The ideas of Plato’s archetypes are more about a character’s or object's basic characteristics rather than its unique qualities or characteristics. In other words, Platonic archetypes embody the real or true nature of things and not their physical form or nature. This explains why these ideas are viewed as collective.

It is interesting to learn how Plato’s ideas envision women. During Plato’s time, women were considered more as property than people who had a significant contribution to society. Plato’s archetype envisions women as people who are equally capable of doing a lot of things, just like men. Plato acknowledged that women were equal intellectually to men. The core idea in Plato’s archetype, that we look at a character’s fundamental characteristics rather and not the physical characteristics, supported this particular idea of Plato. In this sense, a man can relate to a woman not because he is attracted to her physically, but because of what she is intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or anything that defines her inner self (or her true self).

Examples of the applications of Plato’s archetype

We have so many examples both in literature and history that elaborate or utilize the ideas of Plato’s archetype. For example:

In the Bible, God gave Mary the task of giving birth to Jesus. God was not attracted to Mary’s beauty or any other physical qualities. God’s relationship with Mary came from the fact that he admired Mary’s true self, (Mary was a pure virgin and a very devoted believer). This common example elaborates how Platonic archetypes work.

The uses of Platonic archetypes

Writers can use Platonic archetypes to create literary content for their audience. Most movie writers and some authors have been seen to embrace the ideas of Platonic archetypes in their work.

Writers can use Platonic archetypes to pass important lessons on to their audience,


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya