Jungian Archetypes in Bones

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Jungian Archetypes in Bones

Post  aganly on Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:08 pm

Plot Summary
Bones is a television series that takes place in Washington D.C, about Dr. Temperance Brennan (AKA Bones) and Agent Sealy Booth. Bones is a forensic anthropologist and Booth is an agent for the F.B.I. They work as partners in F.B.I homicide investigations. Bones and her team at the Jeffersonian help the F.B.I solve mysteries and gather evidence to arrest killers.

Character Archetypes
Dr. Brennan is the hero archetype in Jung’s character archetypes. Brennan’s parents mysteriously disappeared when she was fifteen. It is later discovered that Brennan’s parents abandon her because their enemies were threatening her life. After the disappearance of her parents she is raised by foster parents. After their life is threatened at birth and they are raised by foster parents, the hero returns to rule his/her kingdom. Dr. Brennan is the ruler of her lab at the Jeffersonian Institute.
Dr. Brennan is Temperance Brennan’s persona. It is an extremely logical, confident persona that helps her cope with her unhealable psychological wound. It helps her to appear strong and dominant when she could be vulnerable and scared. This persona makes it hard for her to connect with other people on an emotional level. She has created this persona by pushing aspects of herself like her vulnerability, emotions and fears into her shadow. Her shadow consists of everything she was before her parents’ abandonment. It is full of everything that allowed her to feel pain after the trauma. Booth could be considered Brennan’s animus. Booth sees through her persona as soon as he meets her. He is her only colleague who does not refer to her as Dr. Brennan. Instead he refers to her as Bones and is constantly trying to help Brennan find her real self. Perhaps who she really is, her “self”, is somewhere between Temperance and Dr. Brennan. Perhaps her self deserves its own name, which is why Booth has renamed her Bones.
Dr. Sweets is the child archetype. Sweets is unusually young for a person in his occupational position. Sweets offers booth and Brennan wise advice despite his age. Sweets is also the orphan child archetype. Sweets was abused as a child until he was adopted by a foster family at the age of six. He is constantly looking for a surrogate family at the Jeffersonian.
Brennan’s father is the trickster. The trickster’s role is to hamper the Hero’s progress and make trouble for them. Brennan’s father is a fugitive and vigilante. He makes trouble for Brennan by involving her in or associating her with crimes and putting her in difficult ethical situations. He hampers her progress by distracting her from her work by constantly showing up unexpectedly demanding they spend time together and mend their relationship.

Situational archetypes
The unhealable wound is a central situational archetype in Bones. Dr. Brennan’s unhealable wound is psychological wound left from her parents’ disappearances and being passed around the foster care system. This psychological wound can never heal fully, which is what makes it the unhealable wound. The disappearance of her parents is also associated with a loss of innocence. Her abandonment by her parents and brother forced her to lose her innocence and grow up. This wound often aches, which is why she has created the rational, cold persona that helps her cope with the pain of this wound. The wound has driven her to desperate measures.
Booth also has an unhealable wound. Booth was a sniper when he was in the army. He is responsible for the death of over fifty people. The guilt that Booth feels for taking these lives is his unhealable wound. His wound drove him to join the F.B.I in the hopes of catching murderers to reconcile his conscience. However, no matter how many murderers he stops he cannot help but feel spiritually uneasy and guilty about the lives he took as a sniper.
Agent booth’s gun fits the magic weapon archetype. Booth is a legendary shot. He is an exceptional sniper that cannot be matched. Therefore, no one can wield his gun like he can. This is what makes Booth’s gun the magic weapon.
It could also be argued that Brennan’s mind fits the magic weapon archetype. Dr. Brennan is the best in her field. No one in her field is as knowledgeable, intelligent or logical as she is. Brennan is extremely logical and has extraordinary powers of compartmentalization. No one can use their mind to their full potential, like Brennan can. Therefore Dr. Brennan’s mind is her magic weapon. It is an extraordinary quality only Brennan possesses that no one else can wield to its full potential.

Symbolic Archetypes
Light vs. darkness is evident in episodes that take place both in Brennan’s lab at the Jeffersonian and in prison. Brennan’s lab is brightly illuminated by florescent lighting. It is a place of intellectual illumination. It is where the “squints” solve mysteries and reveal truths. The lab is where evil is constantly defeated in the battle between good and evil. Prison is always depicted as dark. Prison is a place where evil goes after it is defeated. It is a place of loss and despair. The F.B.I’s interrogation room is also dimly lit. This may be because this is not a place in which Bones feels comfortable. She is ignorant when it comes to reading and understanding people and she mistrusts Booth’s “gut feelings” that guide his interrogations. It is not a place of hard science therefore it is considered a place of ignorance to Dr. Brennan.

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Re: Jungian Archetypes in Bones

Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:40 pm

Aine - great analysis. I had no idea how well Brennan fits the hero archetype. Isn't it interesting that Brennan is female? Do you think that she too is trying to bring fertility to a wasteland? That is, by solving crimes she is helping the community be healthy and happy? Great job on the Unhealable Wound and a wonderful observation about how the lab and prison are lit to demonstrate Light vs. Darkness. Cheers!
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