Dealing with the myth of Cinderella, written by the Grimm brothers, how could you analyze it in terms of archetypes that Carl Jung used?

The psychologist Carl Jung spent a lot of time trying to understand the unconscious side of a person's personality, the hidden things that influence us even though we're not really aware of them. Jung believed that over time, certain symbols — a.k.a. archetypes — were repeated so often in fairytales and myths and legends that they sort of sank down deep into everyone's brains. Or maybe the symbols were already there and that's why they show up in stories. (It's a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg question.) Either way, the result is that we all have very complex personalities that contain a bit of each of these archetypes, and Jungian psychologists work with patients to get in touch with these hidden layers of themselves.

Using the Cinderella story as an example, let's look for evidence of three of Jung's major archetypes:

  • The Shadow — The shadow represents the darker side of humanity. It represents the negative impulses within ourselves, qualities that we would associate with a villain. Cinderella's evil stepmother would be a good example of the shadow archetype because her character is so much the polar opposite of Cinderella's.
  • The Anima — The anima represents the essential feminine energy of an individual (present in both men and women). The anima guides our actions based on emotion and encourages us to be sensitive to the needs of the people around us. The Fairy Godmother is probably a good representation of this archetype because of the way she can sense Cinderella's needs and make her dreams come true.
  • The Animus — The animus represents the essential masculine energy of an individual, and it's also present in both men and women. The animus is the rational force in our lives. An extremely animus personality would be very judgmental, a real "know-it-all." Who would this be in the cast of Cinderella? You might think of the Prince as an example because of the methodical way that he goes about looking for the owner of the glass slipper. Or, perhaps even his father the King because of the way he sets a strict deadline for the Prince to find a wife.

    Think of the anima and animus this way: It's like the yin and the yang (or is it the other way around?) — opposing but complementary forces that everyone and everything has.

You might decide that other characters fit these archetypes better that the ones above, and that's perfectly okay! There are also a few more archetypes associated with Jung. As you go through the rest of the cast, start to also think about how you might have a bit of Cinderella, Fairy Godmother, and even Evil Stepmother lurking within your own personality.