Wednesday, January 21, 2015

archetypes of Card

Despite his seeming lowering popularity due to his positions on same-sex marriage, Card’s reviews on his particular book The Seventh Son was fairly positive. This book navigates the life of Alvin Miller, a gifted and blessed seventh son of a seventh son, starting from before his life began up until his eleventh year. Thomas Wagner says “while the story avoids stereotypes, though, it positively basks in archetypes,” implying that the story is simply based on other characters, people, and stories to create an entirely new one. Wagner continues to say this book is a “humanistic story, revealing a deep love for humanity and its indomitable drive to overcome even the hardest struggles and persevere.”

Card is able to do this, to create this relate-able and enjoyable story and build up these beloved ideals, because of his use of these archetypes. In essence, none of his story is novel. None of what happens is new. How it is said, the context, the individual characters and names, places and history, those are slightly new. Many reviews critique his use of the modern-day Latter-day Saint prophet Joseph Smith and his life as an outline for the young Alvin Miller, but at the same time isn’t Card simply using the hero’s journey as an outline? Everyone who is anyone in the world of literature has used this outline in at least one of their works, if not all of them. Aren’t all stories and books, pieces of literature, archetypes of something or another? It is because of these archetypes that we, as readers, are able to enjoy and relate to these stories. They resonate with us, they’re familiar to us, and that causes us to like them and feel for them. There is a connection made in what we already know to what we are reading.

Overall, Card uses these archetypes effectively in creating an entertaining and emotionally charged book that allows the reader to join the journey of the Miller family and the town of Vigor.


Wagner, Thomas. "SF REVIEWS.NET: Seventh Son / Orson Scott Card ☆☆☆☆½." SF REVIEWS.NET: Seventh Son / Orson Scott Card ☆☆☆☆½. SF Reviews, 12 Oct. 2007. Web. 17 Jan. 2015. <>.


  1. I like the idea that nothing in this book is new: the time period, the place, even the magic system are all either parts of our reality or they are basic ideas derived from such. I disagree with you about the way it is said though--I think that this presentation of a heroic story in the fantasy archetype is notably divergent from the norm. That's why the archetypes you've mentioned are so interesting--even in trying to create a Mormon fantasy novel, Card falls back on ancient literary tropes. Do you think this weakens or strengthens the book?

  2. I like how you addressed the fact that this is an archetype because there really have been similar stories told and retold for centuries. Think about how many re-tellings of Beauty and the Beast that we have, for example. However, I also agree with Tyler in that this is an entirely different kind of archetype. I wonder what Card's purpose was in following the story of Joseph Smith.

  3. In response to you, Tyler, I think that any subtle tropes and archetypes strengthen a story. Like I said, those are familiar to us and resonate, causing us to feel for them more than we would with something less familiar.

    I understand why you'd disagree with me, but I think the fact that the story of Joseph Smith is slightly archetypal (think again about the hero's journey) causes the way this book to be written to be archetypal. But I can definitely see the mix of having a realistic religion and the aspects of fantasy being notably divergent, as you said.