Archetypes in The Natural
After discovering a God-given talent, a young boy struggles to achieve his only dream; to become the best there ever was. Baseball is all he has ever known, so he prevails through the temptations and situations laid before him by those out to destroy his career. His hopes and dreams outweigh all the temptations along his journey. These hopes, dreams, and temptations are depicted through archetypes in the movie The Natural.
An archetype is a universal symbol. It is also a term from the criticism that accepts Jungs idea of recurring patterns of situation, character, or symbol existing universally and instinctively in the collective unconscious of man. Archetypes come in three categories: images (symbols), characters, and situations. Feelings are provoked about a certain subject by archetypes. The use of the images of water, sunsets, and circles set the scene of the movie. Characters, including the temptress, the devil figure, and the trickster, contribute to the movies conflicts that the hero must overcome in order to reach his dream. However, to reach his dream, the hero must also go through many situations such as, the fall, dealing with the unhealable wound, and the task.By using archetypes in the movie, the viewer can obtain more than just the plot and better understand the true theme of the movie: to never give up on dreams.
Archetypal imagery in this movie is abundant, but the most obvious and repetitive archetypes are those of water, sunsets, and circles. Prior to Roy Hobbs, the heros, arrival to the major league, the coach, Pop, comments, Wouldnt you think I could get a fresh drink of water after all the years that I have been in this game. At this point in the game, his team is losing miserably and Roys arrival only seems to make the situation worse because his first impression is an overage rookie. When Roy finally gets a chance to prove himself as a ball player and does, the water from the fountain begins to taste good. The water changing from bad to good shows a birth for the team. Since water is necessary for growth, it also symbolizes a growth stage for the team from the worst to a competitor. Roy appears to be the fresh drink of water that Pop has been wanting.
The sunset also emerges into view several times in the movie, archetypally representing death. When Roy is attempting to strike out the Whammer at the carnival, Max Mercy says, Lets hurry up now. The sun is gonna set soon. Roy strikes out the Whammer, symbolizing the death of his youth and the opportunity to begin his new life as the best baseball player. The sunset may also represent the end, or death, of the Whammers reputation as the best now that he has been beaten.
The archetypal definition of a circle is wholeness and unity and that is exactly what shines through in the baseball team. Because baseball is the only sport where the runner ends up at the same place he started, thus making a complete circle, the team experiences it daily and more than anyone else. Roy is the missing link to form the circle. The team uses teamwork throughout the movie, therefore showing unity amongst themselves. Also, the movie begins with Roys playing ball in a field with his dad, and ends with him playing ball in a field with his son. This shows Roys journey as a circle, which shows wholeness of his soul. In the beginning, he is very thirsty for fame, but in the end, he is complacent.
Many of the characters that Roy confronts in the movie are only in his life in order to use him. Roy must overcome the enticements of the temptress, the devil figure, and the trickster. The temptress in the movie is Memo, the very attractive niece of Pop who works along with the devil figure to promote Roys downfall. The Judge, or the devil figure, must make sure the team loses the pennant in order to gain complete control of it. He offers money to Memo to help him assure the loss. It is Memos job to lure Roy into the scandal, and the Judge makes it official by offering him a large amount of money. The temptress is a woman whom the protagonist is physically attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall. Memo is obviously the temptress because of her exceptional appearance and her motive to destroy Roys dream. Even though he refuses, Memo does try to tempt him into the deal. Memos name itself is also symbolic. Memo or memorandum may remind Roy of Harriet Byrd, the woman who attempted his murder. In fact, Memo does say once on the beach, Ever since the hotel, I have felt like weve met before.The Judge is considered the devil figure because he offers riches to Roy in exchange for him losing the game. He is constantly surrounded by darkness, which can represent evil or death. Both Memo and the Judge attempt to use Roy to get what they want, even if it means destroying Roys career and dream.
Another antagonist encounter is Max Mercy (the trickster), who surely shows a very minimal amount of mercy when he uncovers Roys past. The trickster has rebellious energy and enjoys questioning the status quo. When Roy surfaces, Max knows no limits in finding the facts about his concealed past. After finally discovering parts of the truth, he threatens Roy by telling him he will run a story incriminating him and thus causing him to lose all the respect and admiration of his fans. This act shows no morals, another characteristic of the trickster. Although he knows the story is not true, he indicates that he will run it if he doesnt get what he wants; the real story behind Roy Hobbs.
The situations that Roy faces become the challenges he conquers to achieve his dream of being the best. The archetypal fall, is a descent form a higher to a lower state of being. Roys fall from an up and rising ball player to an unknown man occurs when Harriet Byrd attempts his murder, but ends up only giving him a stomach wound. Roy cannot play ball after suffering a wound like that. His innocence his lost as the bullet enters his body. However, Roy does overcome his fall when he returns to the game.
Not only does the bullet interrupt his career, but also it leaves him with an unhealable wound.His stomach is forever in pain, even after a doctor discovers it has been in is stomach since the event and removes it. When Roy is in the hospital, Roy comments, Some mistakes we never stop paying for. This shows he knows he is an endless cycle of pain from the bullet. He knows that his wound his unhealable. The wound drives him to desperate measures, a characteristic of the archetype, when he plays ball despite the risk of death.
Roys task is to identify himself so that he may reassume his rightful position as the best baseball player in the game. He earned the position the first time when he struck out the Whammer. After returning to baseball, Roy must again prove himself as the best. First, Roy must earn the respect from his coach and the players before he can attempt to make a name for himself. Once that is accomplished by showing off his hitting talents, Roy Hobbs easily becomes a household name. It takes awhile, but he does become the persistent front-page story.
The movie The Natural obviously benefits from using the images of water, sunsets, and circles, the characters of the temptress, the devil figure, and the trickster, and the situations of the fall, dealing with the unhealable wound, and the task.By using these archetypes in the movie, the plot is not all the viewer sees. The movie becomes more in depth. More feelings can also be provoked by the use of archetypes, which will involve the viewer more in the movie and allow them to connect with the characters. Roys dream to become the best becomes enhanced by the continuous use of archetypes in the movie.