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Monday, May 13, 2013

Character Archetypes 101: The Rebel

Today I've got the Rebel on the couch. It was hard for him to get some time off from liberating and revolutionizing, but he managed. The Rebel is also known as the Outlaw, Revolutionary, Maverick, Destroyer, Wild Man, and Misfit.

The "Good"

An argument can be made that things might never change, status quos might never be questioned, and rules might never be broken without the Rebel. They are outrageous, outspoken and radical in a cutting-edge way many of wish we were. They are counter-cultural and innovative, and are most fulfilled when they change something they feel needs to be changed to better the world. 

To say they are unconventional thinkers would be an understatement. They confidently motivate others to confront societal negativity and think differently, and not just conform and accept the most tried-and-true methods and predominant thoughts of the day. This revolutionary radicalism screams for freedom and a sense of social consciousness, away from materialistic designs.

When the developed side of The Rebel is sitting at the helm, as opposed to the "shadow," people will read about a surprisingly humble and honest individual, given that they often live on the cusp of life and death. They can find a balance between exercising a responsibility to their ideals when confronting someone or something contrary to those ideals. 

The "Bad"

It's easy to see how The Rebel can give in to the dark side and cross over into criminal and violent acts. Their anger and feelings of powerlessness and mistreatment can make them shun conventional methods to effect change. Peace officers and other civil service members can be seen as the "bad guys" instead of appropriate avenues to take.

They can often come across as reckless individuals...even unstable. They might be careless of their own safety and even the safety of others, putting even loved ones in danger. The ideals and philosophies they are fighting for can become all consuming and they can lose sight of their other priorities. Addictions and compulsions of self and emotional/physical abuse, murder, and rape of others are all possibilities when the shadow takes over.

Stubborn opposition and shaking things up just to shake things up (because they get a kick out of it) are also shadow traits of The Rebel. Quite often, personal anger is also a huge obstacle for The Rebel to overcome.

Likely Goals

To shock
To disrupt/destroy
To change/overthrow what isn't working
To let go of their anger/driving force and return to balance 

Likely Fears

To be powerless 
To be ineffectual
To be annihilated
To be left empty

Examples in the Media

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood
Antonio Banderas/Anthony Hopkins as Zorro
James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause
Sterling Hayden as General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove
Gary Oldman as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in The Fifth Element
The Big Bad Wolf
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator
Jason Gedrick as Doug Masters in Iron Eagle
Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun 
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter   

Archetypes Who've Completed Therapy

The Innocent
The Orphan
The Hero  
The Caregiver
The Explorer 

Let's Analyze

One resource I came across was intriguing in that it mentioned Sauron from The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a Rebel/Destroyer. Here's what Keaton S. Ziem, the post's author, had to say:
Destroyers in film are absolute; they are powerful and inconsolable. They are the unstoppable force; and when they’re faced up with an immovable object, sparks fly. However, since Destroyers are so absolute, there’s no reasoning with them or convincing them to stop. This makes Destroyers difficult for most characters and audiences to understand, even if their villainy is compelling. It’s the mystery of what makes The Destroyer so hell-bent on obliteration that interests audiences; not relatability. This is how a major antagonist like Sauron can still work in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, even without dialog or a physical presence anywhere in the film (aside from the few minutes in the first film’s prologue).
What do you have to say about his thoughts?