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Archetypes In The Natural

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Heather Holmes


Archetypes in The Natural

After discovering a God-given talent, a young boy struggles to achieve his only dream; to become the best there ever was. Baseball is all he has ever known, so he prevails through the temptations and situations laid before him by those out to destroy his career. His hopes and dreams outweigh all the temptations along his journey. These hopes, dreams, and temptations are depicted through archetypes in the movie The Natural.

An archetype is a universal symbol. It is also a term from the criticism that accepts Jung's idea of recurring patterns of situation, character, or symbol existing universally and instinctively in the collective unconscious of man. Archetypes come in three categories: images (symbols), characters, and situations. Feelings are provoked about a certain subject by archetypes. The use of the images of water, sunsets, and circles set the scene of the movie. Characters, including the temptress, the devil figure, and the trickster, contribute to the movie's conflicts that the hero must overcome in order to reach his dream. However, to reach his dream, the hero must also go through many situations such as, the fall, dealing with the unhealable wound, and the task. By using archetypes in the movie, the viewer can obtain more than just the plot and better understand the true theme of the movie: to never give up on dreams.

Archetypal imagery in this movie is abundant, but the most obvious and repetitive archetypes are those of water, sunsets, and circles. Prior to Roy Hobb's, the hero's, arrival to the major league, the coach, Pop, comments, "Wouldn't you think I could get a fresh drink of water after all the years that I have been in this game." At this point in the game, his team is losing miserably and Roy's arrival only seems to make the situation worse because his first impression is an overage rookie. When Roy finally gets a chance to prove himself as a ball player and does, the water from the fountain begins to taste good. The water changing from bad to good shows a birth for the team. Since water is necessary for growth, it also symbolizes a growth stage for the team from the worst to a competitor. Roy appears to be "the fresh drink of water" that Pop has been wanting.

The sunset also emerges into view several times in the movie, archetypally representing death. When Roy is attempting to strike out the Whammer at the carnival, Max Mercy says, "Let's hurry up now. The sun is gonna set soon." Roy strikes out the Whammer, symbolizing the death of his youth and the opportunity to begin his new life as the best baseball player. The sunset may also represent the end, or death, of the Whammer's reputation as the best now that he has been beaten.

The archetypal definition of a circle is wholeness and unity and that is exactly what shines through in the baseball team. Because baseball is the only sport where the runner ends up at the same place he started, thus making a complete circle, the team experiences it daily and more than anyone else. Roy is the missing link to form the circle. The team uses teamwork throughout the movie, therefore showing unity amongst themselves. Also, the movie begins with Roy's playing ball in a field with his dad, and ends with him playing ball in a field with his son. This shows Roy's journey as a circle, which shows wholeness of his soul. In the beginning, he is very thirsty for fame, but in the end, he is complacent.

Many of the characters that Roy confronts in the movie are only in his life in order to use him. Roy must overcome the enticements of the temptress, the devil figure, and the trickster. The temptress in the movie is Memo, the very attractive niece of Pop who works along with the devil figure to promote Roy's downfall. The Judge, or the devil figure, must make sure the team loses the pennant in order to gain complete control of it. He offers money to Memo to help him assure the loss. It is Memo's job to lure Roy into the scandal, and the Judge makes it official by offering him a large amount of money. The temptress is a woman whom the protagonist is physically attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall. Memo is obviously the temptress because of her exceptional appearance and her motive to destroy Roy's dream. Even though he refuses, Memo does try to tempt him into the deal. Memo's name itself is also symbolic. Memo or memorandum may remind Roy of Harriet Byrd, the woman who attempted his murder. In fact, Memo does say once on the beach, "Ever since the hotel, I have felt like we've met before." The Judge is considered the devil



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