Jungian Archetypes Applied to Pirates of the Caribbean

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Jungian Archetypes Applied to Pirates of the Caribbean

Post  emilycurran on Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:37 am

Pirates of the Caribbean
Jungian Analysis
Emily Curran
D1P4

Plot summery

The movie Pirates of the Caribbean is directed by Gore Verbinski . Set in the 1700’s, this movie tells the story of a young blacksmith and a pirate who must find and rescue the governor’s daughter, Ms. Swan, from the pirates of the Black Pearl. The pirates had captured Ms. Swan in order to get her pirate medallion which they needed in order to rid themselves of a curse. They had been cursed when they stole medallions from a famous dead pirate. The curse rendered them in a state of half-death; they could not feel any physical pain or pleasure and were unable to fully die. They also needed the blood of a descendant of William Turner, who Ms. Swan had said she was. The real descendant was the blacksmith Will Turner. The pirate Jack Sparrow and Will Turner set out to find Ms. Swan with a clan of other pirates. Once they do, Will and Ms. Swan get together and Jack Sparrow is reunited with his ship and a crew to which he can be captain. In this movie I found many Jungian archetypes.

Character archetypes

In Pirates of the Caribbean I found many character archetypes which I could discuss, but two major ones stood out for me, one being the outcast and another the damsel in distress. Jack sparrow used to be the captain of the Black Pearl which was a famous ship that ruled the Caribbean seas. In the movie you learn that Jack was turned into an outcast when his crew mutinied and stranded him on an island with nothing but a pistol with one shot, a compass and the clothes he had on. This meant that he was literally an outcast on an island and was forced to wander the Caribbean without a proper ship or crew. Once he and Will Turner recapture the ship, Jack forms a new crew, is reintegrated and is no longer an outcast.

Ms. Swan, the governor’s daughter, I would say, is a damsel in distress. In the movie she is captured by pirates and held captive. She relies solely on the help of others to be rescued, though she does use her own intelligence to bring about this help. An example of this in the movie would be when she is trapped on an island with Jack Sparrow when they are forced overboard. Ms. Swan gets Jack really drunk and waits until he passes out, then she burns all the liquor and sets fire to the forest in order to form a signal for help. This summons her father’s ship and allows for their rescue. Other evidence of this role was that her capture lured Will Turner to rescue her, which led him into the pirates’ hands so that they could then use his blood to reverse the curse. This passive luring is typical of the damsel in distress. By the end of the movie her role as the damsel in distress seems to get completely forgotten. Once her rescuer Will and Jack Sparrow break out into a fight with the cursed pirates, she takes up a golden rod and fights alongside the men; though for most of the movie she plays the role of the damsel quite consistently.

Situational archetypes

In the category of situational archetype I found quite a few examples in pirates of the Caribbean, such as the unhealable wound, the magic weapon and the journey.

Firstly, I found the unhealable wound which in this movie can be represented by the curse put on the pirates of the Black Pearl. Throughout the movie they are trying to rid themselves of the curse and they succeed only to be confronted with an army of soldiers who then kill them.

Secondly, I found that Will Turner himself was the secret weapon. The pirates needed his blood in order to release them from the curse. Jack Sparrow knows this and so uses him in order to reclaim his ship.
Finally, I also thought that the journey was a distinctive archetype in the plot. The kingdom, or in this case the shores of the Caribbean, was robbed of its fertility when the pirates captured the governor’s daughter. It became Will Turner’s responsibility to save her and restore fertility to the land. During this journey Will discovers that his father had been a pirate and that he himself has a lot of pirate-like qualities. He and Jack Sparrow were isolated together at first and were a microcosm of society. Once Will accepts his new-found pirate qualities, he realizes that the life he had been living was not for him and he decides to act on his pirate qualities.

Symbolic archetypes

For symbolic archetypes I found mainly good versus evil. Although by the end of the movie you gain much sympathy for all sides, there was quite a distinction between good and evil. In the movie there are distinct and purposeful character similarities on the good and the evil sides. On the side of the hero there were two characters who were always together and who were obviously dumb. They were the comic relief on the good side. These characters were mirrored exactly on the evil side, with two characters were always together and were obviously comically dumb. Not only these characters were mirrored but so were others such as the experienced older pirate on both sides as well. This parallel helped create opposition between good and evil but at the same time made you wonder why one was good and the other not when they were otherwise such similar characters. The evil crew is represented by darkness and shadow, the light of the moon revealing what they truly were, whereas light and the sun represent the side of good. Although cinematically it was quite obvious what the sides of good and evil were, you also empathized greatly with both sides. These men could not feel anything and could not die. This made their ruthless quest for the medallion, at least in my opinion, understandable and almost forgivable.

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Re: Jungian Archetypes Applied to Pirates of the Caribbean

Post  ellynhokeefe on Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:27 am

For the character steroetypes I can definately see Jack Sparrow as the outcast and the character of Elizabeth Swan just screams damsel in distress. Quite literally, for the first twenty minutes or so I swear she only spoke in screams. But I digress, in adition to the two character archetypes you pointed out, I think Will Turner fits well into the hero archetype. His life fits almost perfectly into the life of a hero,from his mysterious childhood and being unaware of his origins, up to his death (if we are counting the less than satifying sequels). A hero traditionally has a mysterious death and his body is not buried, same is the case with Will's body as he takes the place of Davy Jones. A rather disappointing ending, but it fits nicely into the life of the hero archetype.

Looking at the character of Barbosa and Jungian archetypes it really makes me wish that those overblown sequels never existed. For the case of Barbosa in the first POTC, that character would be an interesting take on the devil figure. The evil incarnate will always offer something to the protagonist in exchange for their soul, or in Barbosa's case, his own soul. Well, I'm not so sure it is his soul, but it is clear that he wants his mortality back and he will do anything in his power to get it, and he can. Barbosa posesses many things that our protagonists, Jack, Will, and Elizabeth, want and he constantly dangles them in their faces pretending that he will give it to them, but only if they pay. These characters believe Barbosa but he disolves the so-called "bargain" as soon as he obtains what he is after. I say that its a shame that the sequels were made because it made no sense that Barbosa became a "good guy", and not just for the story but for the character archetype as well. He played the part of being suave and almost likeable in the first film because, I think, that is what a devil figure would do. Someone truly evil would not come up to the hero with horns on his temples and a red flowing cape on his back and blow things up. They would slowly fester in your mind, implanting evil thoughts one at a time or play the part of a friendly being and then turn against you. That is Barbosa's character.

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reply to analysis of P.O.T.C.

Post  Evangeline on Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:38 am

Hi Em!
I agree with what you said about the situational archetype of the journey, considering that after the Pirates came the land was pilfered and Elizabeth was stolen - it's almost as if she is the lifeblood of the island because in some ways it can't function without her safety and presence. When she is returned, peace is restored.
The film also seems to have aspects of the task for Will Turner. He originally sets out to save Elizabeth but it becomes a set of other tasks such as helping Jack find a crew to sail after Barbossa.
As well, I think the story of Jack Sparrow has a sense of the fall in that he has descended from a higher state of being. He was once captain of a great ship but after he was cast off by his crew (giving him the character of the outcast) he fell into a much less satisfying state of being and it is his goal to regain his lost position.

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Reply to Pirates of the Caribbean

Post  SarahCrawley on Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:35 pm

I had never noticed the parallels between the two “dumb characters” on both the side of good and the side of evil. The way that this harmonizes the polarity is very interesting.
I also see the situational archetype of initiation in the movie. The movie mainly begins at a time when Elizabeth is eligible for marriage, which, of course, is noticed by the other characters, such as Commodore Norrington. Although Elizabeth’s initiation into an adult life would involve new responsibilities as a married woman (if she were to marry), Elizabeth also seems to recognize her new responsibilities to the community. When the pirates threaten her, she invokes the right of parley, and formulates a way to bargain with the pirates. She is aware of her own power in the situation, and uses whatever she has (the medallion) to ensure that the pirates will not return to Port Royal. She is bold in bargaining, even though she was not at first prepared to have to give up returning to Port Royal. Although in the position of damsel in distress, I think we can see that she is beginning to accept new responsibilities, including her own sacrifice.

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response to POTC

Post  helene.hbd on Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:03 am

Hey Emily,
I agree with you completely when you label Jack Sparrow as the Outcast. Still, at the same time, I see hm as a Trickster and Hero figure.
He acts as a Trickster when he leads Will to the Black Pearl crew, knowing that he will then be able to bargain with the pirates for the Black Pearl. by doing this, he is clearly hampering with the Hero's progress by handing him over to dangerous Pirates who want Will's blood.
He could also be considered the Hero because he fufills many of the Hero criteria. Firstly, he proves his courage by rescuing the damsel in distress in the first minutes of the film. He also departs on the Hero's quest with Will (though Will better fits the Hero archetype.) He overcomes many great challenges like escaping from his enemies at least three times. Like the typicall Hero, Jack fights his Shadow, in the form of the Black Pearl crew.
-Hélène

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Response to POTC

Post  nickyewener on Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:17 pm

Hi Emily,
I was quick to identify Jack Sparrow as the hero because of his ability to manipulate the “Magic Weapon”, which I thought was the compass he carries around with him (I suppose it’s more dominant in the later films). Others see it as being broken and otherwise worthless, but initially, only he understands its true potential. However, your essay has me changing my mind, because I could also be convinced that Jack’s role is that of the outcast. The pirates wanted nothing to do with him, and society wants to hang him. Will Turner, in that case, would be the hero. I think Jack Sparrow falls uniquely between the archetypes of the hero and the outcast, as many heroes do.
-Nicky

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Reply to Jungian Archetypes in Pirates of the Caribbean

Post  aganly on Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:31 pm

I see the fall as a situational archetype in the story of Jack Sparrow. He began as the ruler of the Caribbean seas and loses his status as a ruler and becomes an outcast. Jack Sparrow is expelled from his community (his crew on his ship) because he was disobedient and/or because of a moral transgression that lead to his mutiny. Jack suffers a loss of bliss when he loses the glory of being the captain of a ship he loves. He also suffers a spiritual loss because he suffers a loss of identity when he loses his title as captain.

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Re: Jungian Archetypes Applied to Pirates of the Caribbean

Post  martynmd on Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:29 am

I think an unlikely but true character archetype for Jack Sparrow would be the mentor. From the beginning of the movie to the end, and even more so with the entire series, Will becomes more and more like his mentor and friend, Jack. Will starts off as a relatively modest blacksmith and moves more and more to the life of the pirate as he spends time with Jack. Will's attitude towards pirates also changes because of the mentor's actions. He goes from the contrasting states of complete dislike and aversion to piracy and shifts to a love and respect as he himself becomes a pirate. Instead of the mentor granting the student a weapon or item, Jack Sparrow grants WIll with the gift of freedom. He also gives Will another gift, the ocean.

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Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:00 pm

Emily - a very strong analysis. Well done! I had only ever seen this film from Frye's theory, but it seems to server as a model for Jungian analysis. I may use this essay in subsequent years -- including everyone's great additions! Smile You also hinted at, but didn't directly mention Light vs. Darkness as a symbolic archetype when you talked about the Pirates being revealed by the light of the moon - the true light surrounded by so much darkness.
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