Coward Archetype

Learn all about the coward archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Innocent archetype.

What is the Coward Archetype?

Often seen as a passive shadow archetype of the Bully archetype, the Coward archetype is one of a person who is lacking in any courage, be it physical, mental or moral.

The Coward is unable to stand up for themselves in confrontation of any kind. When put under any kind of pressure they will cave in almost immediately, showing no resilience at all.

Rather, they are willing to bow to the will of others under almost any circumstances, preferring to do so to keep the peace and avoid conflict rather than run the risk of disruption.

They are even unwilling to stand up where they perceive injustice in the world, rationalizing their decision not to fight back despite it being the right thing to do as being somehow more ‘manly’.

Coward Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • The Coward is resistant to change of any sort, finding upheaval unsettling and difficult to cope with.
  • They are natural worriers, anxious about the world around them and the problems they encounter, and place great focus on trying to keep the world as they are comfortable with it intact.
  • The Coward tends to try and oversimplify their problems as a means of coping with things they find too stressful for them.
  • As well as being unwilling to accept change in the world around them, they are unwilling to try and change themselves, even when doing so would be for the better or when things are not going well for them.
  • They often neglect their wellbeing and personal hygiene, this being symptomatic of their whole approach to life.
  • The Coward fears independence, finding safety in their reliance on other people and the predictability of the routine which they establish for themselves.
  • However, all of these qualities can mean that they become repressed and suffer from low self-esteem, causing them to occasionally explode in fury over seemingly nothing.
  • However, in reality their temper is suppressed anger at themselves and their own failings.
  • The fear they feel about the world and their place in it only causes them to retreat deeper within themselves and to rely more greatly on other people and the safety behaviors they have created, ignoring the things about themselves and their life that they do not want to face up to.

Coward Archetype Examples

A famous example of the Coward archetype is Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship which ran aground in the Mediterranean Sea.

Schettino abandoned ship before the passengers and crew were all safely evacuated from the stricken vessel, something strictly against all ethics of seafaring.

He then refused to take responsibility for his actions, even going to trial for his cowardly actions.

Further Examples

Further reading on the coward archetype includes:

  • Cowardice: A Brief History – by Chris Walsh
  • The Coward’s Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight – by Tim Ursiny
  • The Courage of Cowards: The Untold Stories of the First World War Conscientious Objectors – by Karyn Burnham
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