Learn all about the seductress archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Lover archetype.
What is the Seductress Archetype?
The Seductress archetype is one familiar to us in modern, patriarchal societies in the form of the famed female ‘homewrecker’.
She is a so-called femme fatale, who uses her looks, sexuality and charm to gain the upper hand in any situation she finds herself in.
The Seductress is happy to use her physical image, beauty and sexuality to her advantage, despite modern society telling her that flaunting her open sexuality in this way is not acceptable.
She has not respect for the boundaries of any relationship, willing for example to pursue married men should she so desire in order to get what she wants.
Other women and children in relationships which she plays a part in breaking apart are of no consequence to her.
Seductress Body & Image
The Seductresses body and image are a key part of her identity, and she spends a lot of time, money and effort on ensuring that she always looks her best as a result.
- She looks good and knows it. As a result, she exudes a confidence which is attractive to other people and makes her all the more successful in the pursuit of men.
- She understands that her image and confidence give her power, and she is not afraid to use this power to achieve her own ends.
- The Seductress is likely to also be very persuasive, able to attune her communicate skills and tactics of persuasion to the type of person she is talking to very successfully.
- She understands body language and is able to read people well, a key skill in helping her read the people she targets and be more effective in doing so.
- She is persistent and relentless when she has identified a target, unlikely to ever give in until she gets what she wants.
Seductress Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- The Seductress is a rebellious individual.
- She understands the accepted norms of the society in which she lives but refuses to conform to them, particularly when it comes to her sexuality.
- When many women are settling down and having a family or focused on having a successful career, the Seductress is likely to have less interest in these aspects of life.
- Instead she focusses on achieving the success she wants in life through manipulation and deceit rather than through hard work and conventional relationships.
- She is untrustworthy, willing to deceive even those she is apparently close to or her family if it will bring her closer to achieving what she wants.
- Her world view is an entirely self-centred one, resulting in her only being motivated by the things she desires and not caring about the impact of her actions on anyone else.
Seductress & Sexual Seduction
The archetypal Seductress does not always use her body or sex to get what she wants, nor is it always a lover which she is targeting.
The Seductress may in fact desire something different, such as power, money or a specific job. They may use their words or actions (other than sexual seduction) in order to achieve what they want.
Whatever it is that the Seductress wants, they are very goal orientated and driven individuals, though sometimes the goal which they are trying to achieve is a negative one.
Where others would give up on something long before, the Seductress will still be striving to achieve their goals, demonstrating immense persistence in doing so.
This persistence ensures that their dreams are more likely to become reality than those of the ordinary individual.
Seductress Archetype in Advertising
The Seductress archetype is a common one used in advertising and marketing, effective as it can be in persuading people to buy the products of the company concerned.
An example of the Seductress archetype being used in this way is in the advertising of the Victoria’s Secret company.
The visual imagery and wording used in such adverts include persuasive techniques such as romantic music, sexy clothing, sexually suggestive posing, attractive and youthful women, seductive words, dimmed lighting and the use of the romantic city of Paris in the background.
The girls used in the pictures are presented as attractive and seductive angels, suggestive of a male fantasy or something that women may aspire to be. All of these aspects combine together to make the adverts and the women they employ seductive in order to sell products.
Seductress Archetype Examples
An example of the Seductress archetype in film and literature is the character of Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s 1937 novel Gone With the Wind, and the 1939 Hollywood film version of the book.
Scarlett is spoiled, vain and often selfish young woman. Fiercely intelligent, she has learned to hide this and play the part of a flirtatious Southern Belle in order to curry good favor of the men around her.
However, during the Civil War Scarlett’s intelligence becomes apparent as she hardens in order to survive, vowing never to go hungry again. For a long time Scarlet believes her only power is to seduce men.
She uses her seductive power to get money from Rhett for taxes, hiding her poverty while doing so.
She eventually becomes a ruthless business woman in order to save her family, but still transforms into a seductress where men are present.
She knows what is expected of her by the men whom she encounters in the world and is very willing to play the part in order to get what she wants.
Further reading on the seductress archetype includes:
- Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love – by Betsy Prioleau
- A Pious Seductress: Studies in the Book of Judith – edited by Géza G. Xeravits
- Women Who Run with the Wolves – by Clarissa Pinkola Estes