Learn all about the knight archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Hero archetype.
What is the Knight Archetype?
The Knight archetype is one of a man who will go into battle but only for the most noble of causes, more often than not those causes being associated with the life and honour of their damsel in distress.
Associated with courtly romance, chivalry and protection of women, the Knight is a loyal and self-sacrificing individual willing to fight to the death in the name of love.
Knight Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- As well as dedicating to the one they love, the Knight archetype is associated with devotion to their leader (most often a King or Lord) and a willingness to serve them to all ends.
- As a result the archetype is one of a dedicated and loyal servant, sometimes to the degree that their sense of duty and loyalty to their Lord has spiritual connotations.
- Indeed, the Knight may be so focused on the needs of others that they ignore their own needs, tending towards self-neglect rather than the selflessness which they believe they are displaying.
- However, the Knight can also be associated with a darker archetype, one of the Black Knight. In this instance the archetype is representative of the absence of chivalry, honour and loyalty.
- The Black Knight is willing to question the authority of their leader and act against their best interests.
Knight Archetype Examples
The Knight archetype is particularly prevalent in European culture, and notably so in English history.
Two examples of the archetype in English folklore which have carried through into modern culture are King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as well as the tale of Robin Hood.
The Arthurian Knight Lancelot in particular is associated with his dedicated loyalty to King Arthur as well as high courtly romance of Guinevere. Robin Hood is a similar tale of chivalric love between the protagonist and the Maid Marion.
An example of the Black Knight archetype is the Prince Charming character in the Shrek films, converted from the usual ‘good’ character of that name into a man representing a complete absence of any romantic, chivalric or heroic qualities.
Further reading on the knight archetype includes: