Fairy Godmother Archetype

Learn all about the fairy godmother archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Caregiver archetype.

What is the Fairy Godmother Archetype?

The archetypal Fairy Godmother is a nurturing, loving individual with maternalistic qualities who appears regularly in fiction, most regularly in fairy tales and children’s literature.

The Fairy Godmother is largely depicted as a magical being who appears to assist the main protagonist of a story when they are in their time of greatest need. The help which they provide to others is always offered without any expectation of anything in return, the Fairy Godmother acting entirely selflessly for the greater good.

Often their good deeds are conducted anonymously, the individuals who benefit from them never finding out who in fact their benefactor was.

Fairy Godmother Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • The Fairy Godmother is older then the rest of the characters in the story, if not actually elderly, and as a result is possessed of a wisdom and knowledge of the world which they are able to pass on to those around them for their benefit.
  • They can also appear slightly aloof, influencing the outcome of the story by their words rather than by their actions and never becoming particularly to close to anyone else.
  • They are able to see the potential which others possess and foster it, helping others become the best versions of themselves.
  • They can also see when people around them are struggling with their self-esteem and give them the much-needed boost which they need, whether it be through words or through actions such as a make-over.
  • The Fairy Godmother, which having a serious purpose and many serious characteristics, also usually has a sense of fun. They enjoy helping others around them to enjoy life and have a good time, throwing parties and dressing up, or by making even the mundane aspects of life more enjoyable e.g. Mary Poppins ability to make household tasks such as tidying up fun.
  • They are often an eccentric or odd individual, but those around them come to appreciate these oddities as a valuable part of the Fairy Godmother’s personality and approach to the world – they realise through the Fairy Godmother that non-conformity can actually be a positive characteristic in an individual and learn to appreciate the value of making their own independent decisions rather than following the crowd as a result.

Fairy Godmother Archetype Examples

The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella is perhaps the most famous example of this archetype, with the Fairy Godmother ensuring that Cinderella is able to go to the Ball in suitable attire in order to meet and eventually marry her Prince Charming.

Other more modern examples include Mary Poppins, Lady Lilith de Tempscire of the Discworld series, Leanansidhe from the Dresden Files series, Mrs. Madrigal in the Tales of the City series and Amelie in the 2001 French romantic comedy film.

Further Reading

Further reading on the fairy godmother archetype includes:

  • The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature – by KM Briggs
  • The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, “Fairy godmother” p 330 – by John Grant and John Clute
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