Character Archetypes – L for Lover

When the lover is mentioned the archetype normally conjures up an image of a love interest within the romance genre. But the lover archetype is more than a romantic archetype, it’s about life.

archetypes header lover

The Lover

“You’re the only one” ~ Lover Motto

The lover archetype is not only or just about sex and intimacy. The archetype is that of a sensualist, or a character who enjoys life or an aspect of life intensely by using all their senses.

Signs of the Lover

  • lover wordsThe Lover involves all their senses.  They enjoy nice smells, sounds, textures and other aesthetics. If they can’t find stimulation, they will go about creating it by being artists or musicians as examples. If not finding beauty, they will create it.
  • For the lover it’s about creating a lasting and meaningful relationship (of some kind), so stereotypes like the Don Jaun or Playboys don’t quite fit.  They live for intimacy and experience.
  • The Lover’s objective is to open up to broadly experience life at a very deep level. They will exhibit great devotion and passion for somebody or something. The lover is not embarrassed to express themselves, and lives by showing their unbridled and exaggerated affection and their gratitude. We see this intensity lately in youth culture with those who title themselves “fangirls” or live within a fandom for some entity.
  • The Lover will attempt to create and expect harmony among others so that life can be experienced happily. This makes them good team-builders.
  • Many lovers are also explorers or nature-seekers as this gives them more freedom. Lovers are known for their fun-loving and free-wheeling natures and incurable optimism. Bohemians, free-spirits and spiritualists can often be lovers at heart.
  • The ethereal, sensual and “life is wonderful” joie de vivre aspect to the Lover can annoy others.
  • Lovers fear being rejected, unloved or left alone in life.
  • The pure energy a lover uses to express themselves with, and to seek out love means they are also very prone to infatuation, seduction, and falling in love (and believing in it) over and over again. They can move quickly into obsession and other shadow forms.
  • Lovers can’t live comfortably in settings of disharmony, especially if they caused it. They will also wilt in places of doom and gloom such as prisons where their love of life and senses are underwhelmed.
  • A Lover will care how they are perceived by others. To get the love they require, they will strategise to make themselves attractive to others, and will work hard to make good first impressions.  Lovers with too much emphasis on being attractive may be materialistic, or too vain and looks or money focused.
  • Their self-esteem may be based too easily on how successful they are at being loved, wanted or admired. This means the lover may easily become a people-pleaser or a yes-man, happy to please others at the risk of losing their own identity.
  • Because they care so much, you will often find lovers as carers – either as parents, or within the medical professions or assistance professions for animals, or natural elements.
  • A Lover’s passion may not be applied only to a romantic interest – lovers of nature can make passionate activists to save the things they love. Lovers of sheer astethics and beauty have all added to our world as artists, designers and architects. Or those with a traditionalist mentality and who are satisfied with their life may well be as impassioned to save their old ways and the status quo.

Examples

There are plenty of fictional lover examples – Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, Glenn Close as a shadow lover Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. From the same villainous side, Dracula was definitely a lover.

On the hero or at least anti-hero or anti-villain side you’ll find many lovers as “monsters-with-a-heart” such as The Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, and Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Samwise of LOTRs is often suggested as the true hero of the book, due to his loyalty, protection,  companionship and obvious love for his friend Frodo.

As lover of life and free-spirit, Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter is an ethereal example of the bohemian type. Fix it Felix from Wreck It Ralph shows his constant and annoying joie de vivre, while Phoebe of Friends shows many traits of the lover, even though she is seldom a romantic interest.

In movies, animal companions with central roles are more often than not, lovers. Old Yeller’ and Lassie are easy examples.

Groundhog Day’s protagonist Phil follows an interesting character arc from using manipulative attempts to bed women to eventually enjoying life across the board. X-Men’s Rogue provides an example of somebody forced into a contact-less existence because her powers mean she will kill her lovers with skin contact.

Any tale which is themed as a reminder to live passionately and expressively – in other words, to “Seize the Day” such as Dead Poet’s Society, shows us the goodness found in the Lover Archetype.

Romeo and Juliet is an example of several types of lovers in both major and minor characters, and also of lover obstacles. The Bronte Sisters wrote predominantly in the Lover genre.

In real life, look to several celebrities who offer the archetype within their own branding – Madonna and Liz Taylor both play to the lover theme, one romantically, the other sensually and as a proponent of self-love and images for females.

Other Names and Associates

fangirlOther names for the Lover –

  • Romance – The Partner, Intimate, Spouse, Romantic, Soul Mate, Romeo, Love Interest. Connector and matchmaker.
  • Life – Bon Vivante, Aesthete, Friend, Enthusiast, Team-Builder, Sensualist, Carer, Fangirls
  • Loved Ones / Family – Carer, Helper, Supporter, Friend, Mother

Associated – artists, musicians, poets, explorers, naturalists, spiritualists, bohemians, hippies, peacemakers, free spirits, Don Jaun, Casanovas

Shadow Archetypes – for mature male (via Jung): Addict or Impotent; for mature female (via Jung): Seductress or Frigid. One side is overheated, the other frozen.

  • Also – the obsessed and scorned lover – see Yandere in the Dere’s piece, bunny boiler, stalker. The Dandere or shrinking violet / wallflower is the opposite of a Lover.
  • Another shadow is the people-pleaser or yes-man.
  • The Addict can be a love or sex addict, but also another sensual addict such as a glutton, a collector, a celebrity or fame-seeker, a fop, materialist or hedonist.
  • The above are examples of either an active-shadow or a passive-shadow: active-shadow  example –  addict (ie sex addict, love addict); passive-shadow example –  impotent or extremist (over-abundance of emotions to compensate for inability to show love)

Stereotypes / Cliches Associated – star-crossed lovers / moonstruck lovers and the love triangles found predominantly in YA.

 

Sources and Additional Reading

  • Jung – CS Jung nominates the lover as one of the 12 main archetypes of humans. The Lover sits as one of the soul types.
  • Jung & Mature Masculine/Feminine– Jung recognised the Lover as a core archetype for both the mature masculine, and mature feminine.
    • The book, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover – Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine” by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, identifies the Lover as an archetype for both male and female, and also identifies the shadow archetypes for both genders, and rounds out Jung’s anima/animus concepts.
    • Queen, Mother, Wise Woman and Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Feminine – the feminine equivalent, a discussion.
  • Brands – From Jung comes the Lover as Brand. This brand archetype is based on selling products to people with interests in passion, gratitude, appreciation and commitment. To emphasise much of this, think luxury, good times and thank-yous. Examples using this archetype are:- Victoria’s Secret, Luxury Chocolates, Interflora, Chanel, Haagan Dazs and Hallmark. This brand archetype can be muddied with the “sex sells” culture we still appear stuck within.
  • RWS_Lovers-175x300Western Zodiac:
    • Taurus, the Bull is known as  the worker, maintainer, lover, guardian. This lover aspect comes through the carer/maintainer nature of this archetype. The Taurus is interesting as this lover is also stubborn and a traditionalist – the Tauran lover prefers to maintain order and care for what they love.
    • Gemini, the Twins are also associated as lovers sometimes. The Gemini signs become the Lovers Card in Tarot, and pulling this card represents relationships and choices.
  • Greek MythologyAphrodite is the Goddess of Love and Romance, and also reknowned for her beauty. Not only did she endow the world with sensual beauty and culture, her tales also indicate that she was a people-pleaser normally (for Gods as well as mortals). As lover scorned, she also showed the vengeful and obsessive nature that the lover may be shadowed by.
  • Further Mythology
    • Lilith, in patriarchal mythology was told as a somewhat horrible woman sensualist and independent vengeful psychotic. In Jewish mythology Lilith was the first woman cast out before Eve, and a demoness in other tales. She was later associated as a dark goddess to witchcraft and other dark deeds. The Lilith archetype, however, is another matter, celebrating an independent woman preaching equality, and enjoying a sensual nature. As a feminist archetype, Lilith as self-lover has been embraced my many modern women.
    • Lilith’s independent attributes were shared with the three virgin Greek Goddesses – Athena, Artemis and Hestia. Virgin, in this reference, means independent – the three didn’t marry or have children, although had lovers. As such, they loved their own areas of expertise so much that they felt becoming a partner would take away something of their existence.

Part of 2016’s Character Archetype Series (A-Z) @ Hunter is Writing.

4 thoughts on “Character Archetypes – L for Lover

  1. I loved your article! Helped me so much… I was wondering if you could help me with another thing. Can you awnser why dracula was obviusly a lover? I got confuse while reaing cuz I don’t see him as a lover and got curious. It would be nice if you awnser!

    1. Dracula is an interesting point, Ella. In many cases, he’s considered the villain of the piece, due primarily to the fact he represents death (as the opposing force to life) – the opposite to a “lover of life” in this archetypal case. However, demon-lovers are a big sub-trope of story.

      In the novel, Lucy as maiden falls victim to Dracula’s villainy. Which paints Lucy’s fiancee Arthur as the lover. He fits some of the bill – Arthur is surrounded by people who care about him, and considers himself committed to Lucy. Except when Lucy becomes a vampire herself, where Arthur chooses to attempt to cure her of her illness, and ultimately that he must kill her to save her soul. Not exactly fully loving of everybody, then.

      Going back to Dracula, Dracula’s absolute lust for life- (-force, symbolised by blood) talks to the lover archetype, if taken to the extremes of erotomania. And Dracula is driven again to obtain one singular person (Lucy) after years of indiscrimatory bloodlust. He is a one-person lover, which may become his downfall.

      On another note, Dracula’s love of life goes further. Not only does he need, lust and require life energy, but he lives like a lover – romantically and obsessively. Vampires could just live somewhere as a bat in a dungy cave, zooming out to get the blood they need from time to time. Instead, Dracula lives in a castle, and surrounds himself with luxurious condiments – he even dresses materialistically. If we go with some of the older films, he wears velvet, satin and lace. Which must be quite hard to get the blood drips off of.

      Have you noticed how humans tend to create monsters in our stories who must obtain something of the living in order to remain “alive” as the undead? Vampires need blood, zombies have a hunger for living brains… despite being of the dead world, and living with different rules, our monsters crave our human lives. They even have a drive to create more of their own (from living victims, unfortunately), to procreate, so that they are surrounded by themselves. They search for community and life by making their own.

      Okay, so I’m not a psychologist, socio-ologist or any expert on archetypes. So possibly the above can be refuted easily. But I still see Dracula as one of the world’s most interesting villainous lovers.

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