Learn all about the soldier archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Hero archetype.
What is the Soldier Archetype?
The archetypal Soldier can of course apply to a man or woman serving in a country’s armed forces, but it is in fact a wider archetype than that.
It in fact applies to anyone who is willing to fight simply for the sake of fighting – they do not need to be allied to a particular cause, their mission and purpose in life as they see it is simply to fight in order to achieve.
If a soldier has left an army because it no longer has need of him he will seek out another army or service which requires him, simply because he knows no other purpose or reason for his existence in life but to fight.
Soldier Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- The archetypal Soldier is a physically strong individual, though his mental strength is less certain. He is willful, determined to achieve his ends whatever the cost.
- The Soldier looks for a fight, whether that be to fight for justice or a perceived cause, or whether it be simply for financial gain.
- Whilst the Soldier is unlikely to truly feel strongly about his cause he does feel strongly about those with whom he fights, developing a great sense of loyalty towards them and a determination to protect them at any cost.
- While he cares little for the politics of any particular fight, he cares deeply about the impact which it has on those who he fights with, and often the impact it has on the innocent civilians caught up in the middle of the fight too.
- The Soldier’s identity is wrapped up in his masculinity and physical prowess, his ability to dominate and defeat through his own physical power and skill.
- This can lead them to use physical force to solve any problem, even where it is not the most appropriate solution for the issue at hand.
- The trauma that they have witnessed can lead to mental distress for the soldier, leading them down paths such as addiction and mental breakdown.
- Their single-minded focus on the need to fight can cause them to neglect other areas of their life, such as their families, leading to family breakdown.
- This can mean that the life of a Soldier is a solitary one, and that the unit with which they serve becomes a replacement for the family life which they are unable to satisfactorily maintain.
Soldier Archetype Examples
An example of the Soldier archetype in film is Lieutenant Dan Taylor from the film Forrest Gump. Lt. Dan was Forrest’s platoon leader during the Vietnam War in 1969, coming from a family that served in the United States Military for generations with ancestors killed in every American war.
Dan is a soldier through and through, with his whole identity wrapped up in his ability to fight, serve his country and his men.
When he is seriously injured and loses both legs, forcing him to leave the army, he spirals into alcoholism and depression, becoming an angry man who picks fights with everyone, even those such as Forrest who care for him.
It is only with time and the love of a good woman that he is eventually able to accept a life away from the military.
Further reading on the soldier archetype includes: