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Herald Archetype: Definition, 10 Examples and How to Write

As a writer, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the different archetypes that can be used in stories to make them more captivating and relatable to the readers. One of the most popular archetypes that can be used in storytelling is the Herald archetype from the HEROIC JOURNEY. This archetype is characterized by an AVATAR who brings a message that announces change or a new beginning.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the Herald archetype, its characteristics, and how it can be used in storytelling.

Herald Archetype: Definition, 10 Examples and How to Write

What is the Herald Archetype?

The Herald archetype is an AVATAR who brings a message to the protagonist that signals a call to adventure or a significant change in their life. This message is often something that the protagonist is not expecting, and it sets them on a path towards self-discovery and growth. The Herald can be a person, an event, or a symbol, and their role is to push the protagonist out of their comfort zone and into the unknown.

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Characteristics of the Herald Archetype

The Herald archetype is a crucial element in the HEROIC JOURNEY, and it has several key characteristics that define it. These characteristics include:

  1. A Catalyst for Change: The Herald is a catalyst for change in the protagonist’s life. Their message sets the protagonist on a path towards growth and self-discovery.
  2. A Messenger: The Herald is a messenger, delivering a message that the protagonist may not be ready to hear. The message often disrupts the protagonist’s current way of life and forces them to confront their fears and limitations.
  3. An External Force: The Herald is an external force that propels the protagonist out of their comfort zone and into the unknown. They serve as a reminder that life is full of surprises and that change is inevitable.
  4. A Trigger for the Adventure: The Herald is the trigger for the protagonist’s adventure. They set the story in motion and provide the initial conflict that the protagonist must overcome.

Examples of the Herald Archetype

To better understand the Herald archetype, let’s take a look at some examples from popular culture.

1. Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Herald Archetype: Gandalf

Gandalf is a classic example of the Herald archetype. He brings a message to Frodo that sets him on a path towards destroying the One Ring. Without Gandalf’s message, Frodo would never have embarked on his journey.

2. The White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Herald Archetype: The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit serves as the Herald in Alice’s adventure. His appearance prompts Alice to follow him, setting her on a path towards Wonderland and a series of unexpected encounters.

3. The Oracle from The Matrix

Herald Archetype: The Oracle

The Oracle is a Herald figure in The Matrix, providing Neo with a message that sets him on his path towards becoming the One. Her message disrupts Neo’s current way of life and pushes him towards his destiny.

4. R2-D2 from Star Wars: A New Hope

Herald Archetype: R2-D2

R2-D2 is a Herald figure in Star Wars, providing Luke Skywalker with a message from Princess Leia that sets him on his path towards becoming a Jedi. The message disrupts Luke’s current way of life and pushes him towards his destiny.

5. Jacob Marley from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol

Herald Archetype: Jacob Marley

Jacob Marley is a Herald figure in A Christmas Carol, providing Ebenezer Scrooge with a message that sets him on his path towards redemption. His message disrupts Scrooge’s current way of life and pushes him towards his destiny.

6. Hagrid from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Herald Archetype: Hagrid

Hagrid serves as a Herald figure in the Harry Potter series, providing Harry with a message that he is a wizard and takes him to Diagon Alley. His message disrupts Harry’s current way of life and pushes him towards his destiny.

7. Rafiki from The Lion King

Herald Archetype: Rafiki

Rafiki serves as a Herald figure in The Lion King, providing Simba with a message that he must return to Pride Rock and reclaim his place as king. His message disrupts Simba’s current way of life and pushes him towards his destiny.

8. The Magic Mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Herald Archetype: Disney's The Magic Mirror

In this Walt Disney Productions The Magic Mirror serves as the Herald in the story, delivering a message to the Evil Queen about Snow White’s beauty and setting her on a path towards jealousy and revenge.

9. The Beggar Woman from Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd

Herald Archetype: The Beggar Woman from Sweeney Todd

The Beggar Woman is initially presented as a nuisance to the main characters, a crazy woman who begs for alms on the streets of London. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the Beggar Woman is actually an important messenger who delivers a message that sets the story in motion.

10. The Prophets from The Bible

Herald Archetype: The Prophets from The Bible

The Prophets from The Bible serve as Herald archetypes in the myths, delivering messages from God to His people and guiding them on their spiritual journey. They serve as messengers of change, delivering messages of warning, hope, and redemption to the people of Israel.

How to Use the Herald Archetype in Storytelling

Now that we have a better understanding of the Herald archetype and its characteristics, let’s take a look at how it can be used in storytelling.

  1. Introduce Conflict: The Herald archetype can be used to introduce conflict into the story. Their message disrupts the protagonist’s current way of life and forces them to confront their fears and limitations.
  2. Set the Story in Motion: The Herald archetype is often the trigger for the protagonist’s adventure. They set the story in motion and provide the initial conflict that the protagonist must overcome.
  3. Provide Insight: The Herald archetype can provide the protagonist with insight into their true nature and purpose. Their message can help the protagonist understand their place in the world and the role they must play in the story.
  4. Push the Protagonist to Grow: The Herald archetype is a catalyst for change in the protagonist’s life. Their message pushes the protagonist to grow and become a better version of themselves.
  5. Create Tension: The Herald archetype can create tension in the story by introducing unexpected challenges for the protagonist to overcome. Their message can be the beginning of a series of conflicts that the protagonist must face.

Final Word

In conclusion, the Herald archetype is a crucial element in storytelling. It serves as a catalyst for change in the protagonist’s life, setting them on a path towards growth and self-discovery. The Herald can be a person, an event, or a symbol, and their role is to push the protagonist out of their comfort zone and into the unknown. By using the Herald archetype in your storytelling, you can create tension, introduce conflict, and provide insight into the protagonist’s true nature and purpose. With these tools at your disposal, you can create engaging and relatable stories that will capture the hearts and minds of your readers.


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