Archetypes and Story-telling

King Fergus and Queen Elionor would like their daughter to follow tradition and marry the most courageous of the three heirs to the throne of allied kingdoms. But Merida will not accept her passive gender stereotype and will challenge her destiny with masculine roles of courage, skills with weapons and decision.

Merida is almost the only main character of the story, a brave young lady standing for the desire of independence that apply to many youngsters of today in the Western world.

On the other side, we could say there are no masculine leading characters, since the potential grooms appear too dumb and instead of showing men's stereotypes, they show children's stereotypes, immadure and naughty; and on these regards, the plot turns out surprising and original.

Elionor is intelligent and traditional, as a Queen and mother, she insists on what is expected from her daughter. This insistence will be crucial to understand the development of the plot and the fact that both women share part of the protagonism.

In the story, a third woman appears, the senior psychic advisor who delivers the magic poison to Merida. This witch illustrates the obscure and contradictory past of femenine condition; the Queen reflects a dignified but conformist present of women today; and the daughter, of course, represents the uncertain future of female condition in the world -perhaps even our lifestyle. They all three form the Jungian archetype of the Great Mother, as wise woman, mother and virgin respectively.

It is not by chance that Merida has three little brothers, that there are three kings and three competitors for the pricess. These trios also symbolize the past, present and future of the masculine condition, but instead of the richness and variety of female characters, masculine characters are complete flat in treatment, immadure and bully, Jokers in archetypal terms, drawn along by our instincts yesterday, today and tomorrow.

We could say that a bow and an arrow stand for the Object of Power in archetypal terms as well. While the sword is a phallic symbol, bow and arrow is ambivalent: the curve reminds us of women's hips from which children are born like shooting arrows; and arrows themselves stand for phallic swords as well -as if we were saying, behind a great man, there's always a great woman. Merida win the shooting contest implying perhaps that she could understand human nature -masculine and femenine- better than men.

We can see different key moments, or Ordeals, in the plot: when Merida makes the target, or poisons the cake; but the most important is that of the fight between Elionor, turned into a female bear as the man-eater or mother destroyer archetypes, agains the spirit male bear, the tyrant murderer archetype.

The fight suggests that modern woman is compelled to assume pure masculine gender roles of agressiveness and competion without being able or knowing how to contribute with her own ancestral femenine sense of life giver. This fight will lead us to destruction. The solution consists of finding the balance between the two sides, masculine and femenine, animus and anima, that we all bear inside.

Domenec Mendez

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