Toni Morrison Archetypes

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In Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, readers learn that the characters of A Mercy are in some way or another orphaned; whether it be figuratively or literally. Despite the pronounced theme of dominion as told by Florens’ mother, a subtle yet ubiquitous suggestion by Morrison is embodied in her characters. According to, this ubiquitous occurrence of orphans correlates to the term Archetype which is defined as “a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, etc.” In this case, the literary repetition of concepts in A Mercy would significantly identify the characters as orphans and with these archetypal characters Morrison advances the plot and conceptualizes behavior thereby supporting her main theme of American…show more content…
This, in effect, is akin to the judgement of a personality in which the reader may discern a pattern and create parameters in order to anticipate behavior and meanings. In this case, characters like Florens and Jacob are ideal examples to start with. Both Florens and Jacob were physically orphans but their deprivations were in different contexts. Florens associated her mother with abandonment and consequently found a surrogate for affection—the Blacksmith, who enabled her deprivation with superficial gratification. However, upon Florens’ transformation of necessary love to debilitating desire “Florens learns the perils of caring too much — and the legacy of loss and leaving bequeathed to her by her mother” (Kakutani). What Michiko Kakutani is trying to say is that Florens’ emotional immaturity led her on a path of superficial conquest for a profound wound in her soul. Starkly contrasting yet on the same level, Jacob Vaark’s life as an orphan deprived him of the material and parental necessities. In the exposition, Jacob’s concern for innocent hardship placed him at the hearts of readers as a modest man humbled by his loathing of privileged aristocrats. While he retains his abhorration of the rich, Morrison foreshadows his demise by introducing elements of envy and denial as he visits the D’Ortega residency. Nevertheless both accomplished the pinnacle of his desires (the residency) but at the expense of his

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