Learn all about the heroine archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Hero archetype.
What is the Heroine Archetype?
The archetypal Heroine is a recognizable figure to almost everyone in the world, appearing as she does across religions, mythologies, literature and art worldwide throughout history.
The archetypal heroine exists as an expression of womankind’s strength, ability to persevere throughout whatever test and trauma is thrown at them and to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.
Heroine Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- The archetypal Heroine is usually the main protagonist in any story in which they feature throughout history, literature and art.
- In the story in which she features the heroine saves the day from whatever trauma is sent to challenge those involved.
- Very often the heroine is characterized as intelligent and spirited, an attractive personality to those around them.
- She is usually resourceful and a capable problem solver, witty and quick thinking, able to use her sharp mind and tongue to get herself out of trouble when required.
- The archetypal Heroine’s is usually to be challenged in some way, often through a quest for love, family or justice in some form.
- In being challenged like this they are required to restore the normal balance of the world in which they exist, with the audience viewing their journey seeing the world through their eyes and experiencing their journey along with them.
- The archetypal Heroine is a good role model for others, particular other women.
- Through them and their actions other people can see that women are just as capable as men are at succeeding and leading in the world.
- They are able to stand up for themselves and others, fight for what they believe in and compete physically just as capably as any man when given the opportunity.
Heroine Archetype Examples
An example of the Heroine archetype in modern society is the character of Merida from the 2012 animated Disney Pixar movie Brave.
Princess Merida is the teenage daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor, rulers of a Scottish clan. Queen Elinor has very traditional expectations that Merida should marry and become a royal lady.
This contrasts with Merida’s own wishes, with her insisting single-mindedly that she control her own destiny and not rely on a husband. Merida is skilled at archery, fighting with spears, sword-fighting and horse-riding – something of a tomboy.
She is a good role model for girls determined to succeed in the world on their own merits, no damsel in distress.
However, she is torn between doing what’s expected of her by her parents and what she herself really wants. In the end she overcomes adversity to save her kingdom and obtain the life she wants for herself with the support of her parents.
Further reading on the heroine archetype includes:
- The Heroine in Western Literature: The Archetype and Her Reemergence in Modern Prose – by Meredith A. Powers
- The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes – by Caro LaFever, Sue Viders, and Tami Cowden
- Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within – by Carol S. Pearson