Book 1 pages 65-80
Contributor: Cassie Trohn
I was very intrigued by Christopher Vogler’s description of what certain characters’ roles are, as well as the meaning behind what these characters do.
Today I will introduce you to three character types that I read about— Shadow, Ally, and Trickster.
Vogler describes Shadow as the energy of the dark side, the unexpressed, unrealized, or rejected aspects of something. This is the negative face of Shadow in a story and is represented by characters that are villains, antagonists, or enemies. The Shadow can be the suppressed things about our characters, dark secrets, and things that lurk in their past. Villains are usually dedicated to death, destruction, or defeat of the hero.
The positive face of the Shadow shows this archetype in a more genuine light. Qualities that hide or that have been rejected for some reason can bring out the positive side of the Shadow. The positive side can make the Shadow more human with a touch of goodness or some quality that is admirable or even vulnerable. The positive face can almost give the reader a sense of feeling sorry for the villain because he/she has shown a more human side, or a reason why he/she reacts the way he/she does.
The function of the Shadow is to challenge the hero and give him/her a worthy opponent in his/her struggle. Shadows can create conflict and bring out the best in a hero, often by putting the hero in a life-threatening situation. Heroes can also manifest a Shadow side, by wearing a mask.
The mask of the Shadow can be worn by any character, for instance: the primary Mentor figure who tests the MC by pushing him to his limit (Louis Gossett, Jr., An Officer and a Gentleman), the Shapeshifter figures, darker characters that act like Mentors (Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs), the Trickster figures, villains who fight bravely for their cause or experience a change of heart only to become heroes themselves (the Beast—Beauty and the Beast)
External Shadows must be vanquished or destroyed by the Hero. Internal Shadows can be disempowered by bringing them into the light of consciousness and can even be turned into a positive force.
Knowing the psychological concept of the Shadow archetype will help you understand the villains and antagonists in your stories and uncover deeply hidden aspects of your heroes.
The Ally character can serve several purposes for the hero. The Ally can be a companion, conscience, comic relief, or someone to run errands, carry messages, scout locations or have someone for the hero to talk to. The Ally brings out the human side of the hero or challenges him/her and allows for a more balanced hero. You can have multiple Allies building up a team of adventurers with each having their own special skill, or just a single Ally who provides comic relief and/or challenges a deeper look into the hero’s soul.
Allies can explain things that are second nature to the hero who is introverted or that would be awkward for him to explain.
The Ally can also be an “audience character” who is someone who sees the world in a special way or through fresh eyes. This is my favorite type of Ally. I have a tendency to want to have another character other than the Main Character throw a fresh light on circumstances.
Allies can be sidekicks. They can be a comical sidekick, a faithful sidekick, an accomplice, or serve as a conscience. An Ally could be the most effective in drawing more emotion into your story.
The Ally can also be non-human, such as a guardian angel, or a spirit protector. Animal Allies are common in storytelling and make great allies. In folktales, Allies can serve as a voice beyond the grave giving aid to the living. Helpful servant Allies can help the hero achieve his/her goal.
The psychological function of an Ally is to be helpful to the hero in the journey of the hero’s life. The Ally represents powerful internal forces that can come to the aid of a MC in a spiritual crisis.
The Trickster archetype is very popular in folklore and fairytales. They are usually clowns or comical sidekicks. They embody the energy of mischief and desire for change. They have several important psychological functions. They are good at cutting big egos down to size and bringing heroes and audiences down to earth. They bring about healthy change and transformation, often by pointing out the imbalance or absurdity of a stagnant psychological situation. Tricksters are known to bring needed perspective when characters might be taking themselves too seriously.
The dramatic function of comic relief is to relieve tension, suspense, and conflict. Tricksters can be servants or Allies working for the hero or Shadow. They can also be independent agents with their own agendas.
Trickster Heroes are most common in folktales and fairytales and can stir up trouble or outwit others, bringing about change. They are usually catalyst characters who affect the lives of others but are unchanged themselves.
Meet Today’s Contributor—Cassie Trohn
My name is Cassie Trohn and as a Reading Specialist for children with disabilities such as ADD and Dyslexia, I found my love in writing. I did not start out in Education; I actually was a wedding planner for eleven years. I have four children. I am also an artist and combine the arts with reading in order to help with sensory learning. It really speeds up the process of teaching reading if you know what type of learner your student is (visual, audio, hands-on).
My writing background is very formal. What I mean is I have written articles for local magazines and was a ghost writer for an international business company. Although my writing background has been a formal writing style, my love for writing was much more creative and I’ve wanted to entice teens to read more, especially those with disabilities. I want to be the author who keeps them reading through their adult years. I am presently working on a YA fiction trilogy, “Three Rings” with my mentor and editor, Joyce Sweeney.