Writing

Writing 101: The 12 Literary Archetypes

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Aug 30, 2021 • 6 min read

For thousands of years, narrative artforms have featured archetypes—characters built on a set of traits that are specific and identifiable. The heroes and villains of today’s books and films may be based on the same heroic and villainous archetypes found in fairy tales, the novels of Charles Dickens, the poetry of John Milton, and the theater of the ancient Greeks.