Jungian Archetypes applied to The Wire

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Jungian Archetypes applied to The Wire

Post  lturnbull on Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:43 pm

Jungian Archetypes applied to The Wire

The wire is an American television series created by David Simon. The show is set in Baltimore and through out the seasons it depicts different aspects of the city. The first season focuses on the illegal drug trade in the projects, while the second season takes a look at the ports. In the third and forth seasons the city government and the school system are the focus of the show, while the fifth investigates the print news media. While the show looks at all these facets of the city it is very character driven and portrays the lives of all the people involved with these different institutions from the drug dealers to the politicians.

Although many Jungian character archetypes can be found in The Wire, a predominant archetype in the first season is the Mentors, found in the characters of Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell. Avon is the dominant drug dealer of west side Baltimore, and Stringer is his second in command. The Mentor archetype can be applied to these men because of their relationship with the lower level dealers. They serve as counsellors to these young men by taking them off the streets and bringing them under their wing to serve their drug operation. They inspire work ethic in these characters by demonstrating that the harder they work the higher up the ladder they'll get, in turn being more likely to become part of the inner circle. Although sometimes this can lead to a Scapegoat character such as D'angelo Barksdale. D'angelo, nephew to Avon, works his way up the ladder only to take the heat for Avon when he is given a greater jail time sentence then his Uncle.

An obvious symbolic archetype that is through out the series is the Battle between Good and Evil as represented by the police forces and the crime that surrounds the city. Good and Evil are always in battle in The Wire though not in as simple a form as drug dealers versus the police. Both forces are always represented in a fluctuating manner in each party. Surprisingly we find good in the drug world and similarly we find corruption in the police force who seemingly represent good. A small example of the corruption in the police force which occurs in all the seasons, is when the officers are so power-hungry and desperate to keep their positions that they invent charges and ignore others to keep the stats where they should be in order for them to prosper in their jobs. The brotherhood formed between in the men in the drug operation in an example of the good that comes from it. Although it is criminal and so implied evil these characters are born into the life style and are able to summon good from this work by providing for their families.

The characters in the wire experience many of the situational archetypes, one that stands out in the second season is The Fall of D’Angelo Barksdale. Although the series starts out with the demotion of D'Angelo because of his carelessness with a murder, he works hard to get back on his feet. The dealers he is put in charge of start to make a good profit under his direction. However he grows weary of the violence, and when he finds outs a dealer he had tried to help is dead he is furious which is key in his pending fall from grace. As a result of finding out this information he turns informant against the organization, this is short lived and when he refuses to co-operatehe is given a sentence of 20 years in jail, to Avons 7. Once in jail he is disgusted with Avon's plan to lace rat poison in the jails heroin supply. Which results in D'Angelo turning his back on the family for good which is his final descent from a higher to a lower state, because this leads to his expulsion of the protection of the family and Stringer Bell has him killed because of his fear that D'Angelo might once again turn informant.


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Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:51 pm

Lulu - you have demonstrated your choice of archetypes very strongly. Well done. I particularly enjoyed your analysis of Good vs. Evil. The Wire sounds like a fascinating show if it attempts to show light/good in the underworld and dark/evil in the protective police force. Clearly it is exploring the irony of the Good vs. Evil polarity. Thanks for sharing!
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