Examples of the Shadow Archetype in Famous Literature

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Anger, selfishness, violent tendencies, the quest for uncontrollable power, and sexual desires are all undesirable traits which are frowned upon by society, and are concealed to avoid scrutiny. These traits can be referred to as one's shadow. The shadow is the repressed unconscious side of a personality (The Shadow Archetype). The shadow is considered to be a dark force because it consists of all the negative emotions and behaviors of an individual that they choose to hide in order to avoid society’s pressing judgment. In literature, the shadow can carry negative or evil qualities, as seen in many texts that revolve around a character’s struggle with some form of a shadow. The shadow, whether a physical being or a darkness within, grows in response to knowledge of culture and experience; it sees the evil in society and uses that information to grow as a threat to goodness. When the shadow builds it is usually repressed because of its threat to humanity. Even though the shadow is usually repressed, fought against, undeveloped and denied, the shadow should be confronted in order to know and understand one's true self. One must be self-aware of his/her physical or inner shadow, learn how to fight against it or deal with it, be prepared to struggle against it’s darkness or prevail against it by finding light, and ultimately find a resolution between himself/herself and his evil side.

Shadows can be a threat because they are opposite representations of an individual’s ideals of himself/herself. Because of this trait, a physical shadow will be the representation of an individual’s concealed evil traits with an actual form. Many people fear what the physical representation of their shadow may be. When concealed within oneself the shado...

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Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Ed. Katherine Linehan. New York: Norton, 2003.
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