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GilmoreGirlsCastHang out in any literature class long enough and you’ll hear the term archetype. The concept of archetypes says that only a set number of characters appear in all fiction, the most well-known of which are the Greek archetypes based on the mythological gods and heroes. Whenever an author uses these archetypes, which our human brains seem hard-wired to recognize, readers immediately feel a sense of recognition and familiarity, even if very little about that character has actually been revealed.

 

In my other two blogs For the Love of Stars Hollow and Life in a Small Town, I talk about how Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino developed a setting that her audiences feel deeply connected to. Audiences feel just as connected to Sherman-Palladino’s characters as they do with Stars Hollow. Not-coincidentally, many of the most prominent characters in Gilmore Girls seamlessly line up with those familiar Greek archetypes I mentioned.

 

In honor of the rapidly approaching Netflix revival episodes of Gilmore Girls, I have created a small quiz. See if you can figure out which Greek Archetype matches your favorite Gilmore Girls character. Click on the word Character to see if you guessed correctly.

 
  • Artemis:

    • Description: Artemis is the original independent woman who will never be tamed. She has an intense desire to protect her "sisters" and develops strong bonds with other women. When angered she will lash out. To be locked into a confining role is torture for her.

    • Character:

  • Hera:

    • Description: No matter what her husband Zeus may put her through, Hera is a wife and queen first. The only thing that may distract her from her husband is her children, and she is fiercely protective of them. She will not tolerate anything that disturbs the order of her family.

    • Character:

  • Hestia:

    • Description: Her mysterious and wise qualities make this goddess less well known.  She can appear as an old woman and young girl all in one. Her hidden wisdom allows her to manipulate things behind the scenes to get what she wants. Her influence is omnipresent and invisible.

    • Character:

  • Poseidon:

    • The affairs of the rest of the world don't matter to this god unless they disturb his reality, which is as deep and dark as the ocean itself. He feels things very intensely and expresses it through his art. No one can know his world unless he chooses to allow them into it. From those he allows entrance, Poseidon expects respect and gratitude.

    • Character:

  • Apollo:

    • Description: This god is a prince on the fast track to becoming king. He the master of many gifts and arts, all of which he uses to his own benefit, not to others’. When the opportunity to move forward presents itself, words like loyalty and betrayal don't exist. In all circumstances, Apollo does what he needs to do to accomplish his purposes, regardless of who suffers.

    • Character:

  • Ares:

    • Description: This god usually lives by his drive for physical enjoyment. He lives completely in his body rather than his mind. He goes with his gut instinct in most things and his strategy is focused on victory. Although conquest is his go-to, as a protector he is fearless and never backs down.

    • Character:

  • Athena:

    • Athena was born by springing from Zeus' skull so she doesn’t have much in the way of familial affection. Instead, she focuses on her two main passions: war and wisdom. In battle, her go-to tactics are solid defense and control over the situation. Her passion for wisdom is so genuine that she swore to never lie with a man or allow herself to become distracted by such meaningless, trivial things.

    • Character:

  • Hermes:

    • Description: Hermes is best known for his ability to always have a good time. This unreliable wanderer has eclectic tastes and a knowledge of worldly things. One thing that drives Hermes is not being in any one place for too long. In his darker moments, he may outwardly hide behind a foolish mask while plotting against others the entire time. The greatest asset at his disposal is being underestimated.

    • Character:

  • Persephone:

    • Description:  This is a young woman who has yet to come into her own. Plagued by indecision, she relies on others to help her get anything done. She often plays the rebellious daughter and gets into trouble when she stretches her wings, whether it’s through drugs, sex, or rock n’ roll.

    • Character:

  • Hades:

    • Description: This god’s realm is vast, but he’s always up for expanding, usually through means of subterfuge and stealth. He longs for greater connection to the outside world, but his isolation feeds directly into his dark side. When angered, he is careful to plot an exacting, not passionate, revenge. Hades is a god that lives in a lonely empire of his own making

    • Character 1 or Character 2  

In my book Miss You Once Again I recognize several of the archetypes as well, painted over with a Southern patina. Lee Trenton, just like Lorelai Gilmore, is a strong, independant Artemis. But this independence is a double edged sword as it leads to potential loneliness for both women. Nana, much like the Hestia-inspired Rory Gilmore, is an huge influencer of the storyline, but a behind-the-scenes one. And Granny Bob, whose warm hospitality and homey dinners inspired her very own cookbook, is a sweeter version of Hera: the representation of home and family.

Strong, archetypal characters, more than any other element in fiction, are what engage audiences in reading the next chapter, watching the next episode. I guess those Greek storytellers knew what they were doing!

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Kelly Baugh

 

Kelly Baugh is the author of Miss You Once Again and Granny Bob's Homestyle Cooking

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