There Will Be Blood and Jungian Archetypes

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There Will Be Blood and Jungian Archetypes

Post  Graham Mansfield on Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:02 am

There Will Be Blood and Jungian Archetypes
Graham Mansfield

There Will Be Blood is an action drama film about an oil prospector, Daniel Plainview, in southern California in the early nineteen hundreds. Plainview leases the Sunday ranch for drilling against the owner’s son Eli Sunday’s wishes. When the project goes ahead Plainview refuses to let Eli, the local preacher, bless the oil well. A battle between oil man and preacher erupts causing a series of unfortunate events with disastrous consequences, including the deaths of oil workers and massive explosions which cause his son to go deaf. These events, and his now growing hatred for Eli Sunday, lead Plainview on a descent into alcoholism and madness that fuels the brooding primal battle between Sunday and Plainview. Plainview lashes out viciously at those around him, killing some and threatening to murder others, until he finally brutally murders the preacher Eli Sunday.
The influences of Jungian archetypes show themselves clearly in this film. The battles between good and evil are very predominant archetypes in the film There Will Be Blood. The opposition of these two primal forces show themselves as Plainview’s and Sunday’s battle govern the business and life around the oil exploration. Eli Sunday attempts to battle against Plainview’s greed and desire for oil. Plainview does not let any obstacle stand in his way and Sunday’s desire to have the town centered around the church is Plainview’s biggest obstacle. “You owe the Church of the Third Revelation five thousand dollars”. Sunday tells Plainview that he owes money but Plainview will not pay and instead beats Eli Sunday. This battle is obvious because both Plainview and Sunday are trying to remove each other from their objectives. Sunday sees Plainview as an evil force and wishes to remove him from the community. Sunday is ultimately fighting against the oil company. Plainview’s power as an evil force makes his battle with Sunday a tremendous shaping force that molds the lives of the community around them.
As Daniel Plainview encounters many disastrous events, his outlook begins to change. He begins to hate everyone around him and views many of them as obstacles. “I see the worst in people. I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I’ve built up my hatred over the years little by little… I can’t keep doing this on my own, with these people”. Plainview attempts to destroy anyone or anything that stands in his way. He becomes an alcoholic and begins to loose his mind. This clearly shows that Daniel Plainview is subject to ‘The Fall’, and he descends from a higher state of being to a lower one when he abandons his son because he sees him as a waste of time. His hate for Sunday begins the process of his mental deterioration. Plainview’s defilement of innocence and bliss takes the form of the murders he commits in order to achieve his goal. This ongoing battle between Plainview and Sunday changes him entirely and he looses his mind and becomes an alcoholic. His expulsion from sanity is his expulsion from paradise and is a consequence for his distain of everything around him. Plainview finally reaches his lowest state of being when he murders Eli Sunday, who has been his biggest opposing force and has caused him to undergo such mental transformation.
Daniel Plainview can clearly be seen as ‘the Devil’ figure because of his pure hatred for Eli Sunday and his church. The greed of oil and wealth is Plainview’s God and he takes no interest in religion. Sunday tries to drive the devil out of Plainview but he resists. It is here that Sunday sees the greed and power as the rise of industry, Hell and the Devil. “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet and nobody can get at it except for me”. This shows that Plainview’s desire for wealth is the most important goal for him. As well as the battles of good and evil, there is a strong relationship with Heaven vs. Hell. Though Sunday is trying to do good for Plainview and the community, Plainview’s evil force is stronger and destroys Sunday in the end. Because of Plainview’s lust for power, he becomes a powerful evil entity thus embodying the Devil.
It is clear that the battles between good and evil are the driving forces behind this story. Plainview’s transformation is the key event in making the battle between good and evil so prominent in the film. When Plainview murders Sunday evil has defeated good and the Devil is the most powerful figure.

Graham Mansfield

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Re: There Will Be Blood and Jungian Archetypes

Post  Elliot Selby on Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:26 pm

I certainly responded well to Mannsfields symbolic archetypal commentary. It seems as though this film has a rather solid theme in it, and that theme is a clear cut 'good and bad' story. Furthermore, I appreciated his references to 'the fall' being applied to Daniel Plainview. It might be interesting to explore whether or not Eli Sunday might be the hero, and perhaps some of Frye's biblical imagery in Eli's last name being 'Sunday', the day of mass.

-Elliot Selby

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Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:47 pm

Graham - a very good review/analysis. Well done. My only question is: Do you think the Sundays are wholly "Good"? That is, in the symbolic archetype of Good vs. Evil, is it always a question of Plainview being evil and the opposing forces being good? Or are there (ironically) sometimes when Plainview exhibits good and the Sundays exhibit evil?
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