Examining The Antagonist from an archetypal perspective was the most effective way for me to gain insight from the novel. This approach enabled me to apply the paradigm of the Hero’s Inner Journey to Gordon’s life and fully realize his development over the course of the story.
After learning about archetypal theory and the Hero’s Inner Journey, I could not help but notice how Gordon changed and developed. Some of Gordon’s actions that I would have previously paid little attention to held deeper meaning for me once I considered him to be on a journey of self-development. For example, how his treatment of females alters along his journey offers insight into his development. At the beginning of the story, Gordon does not treat females well. At the bar with his friend Adam, Gordon explains to Adam that “everyone hates fat people” (5) and belittles his friend Tina because she has gained weight. Gordon says at least she is out on the dance floor working off the weight and that “she’ll be back to baseline hotness in no time” (5). At this point, Gordon only cares about the physical appearance of women. As he progresses through his journey, however, his treatment of females improves. He is involved in deep and meaningful phone conversations with Kristen and even takes life advice from her when she explains to him, “hate is not the opposite of love” (334). Women are now people who can offer insight; their value no longer relies on their thinness and physical appearance. This different attitude towards women reveals how much Gordon changes as he moves through the Hero’s Inner Journey.
Another thing I noticed about Gordon’s inner journey of self-development was how at the beginning of the story he used his size and strength to intimidate and physically injure others. He allows himself to be used by his dad to police the Icy Dream and punches Croft in the head, permanently injuring him (107). As Gordon progresses through his journey, he begins to use his size to protect his friends. For instance, when Kyle hits a woman Gordon declares his behaviour is “bullshit” (200). This new perspective reveals how much Gordon has changed for the better over the course of the novel.
Applying the archetypal perspective to The Antagonist also taught me about myself. After learning about the Hero’s Inner Journey and watching Gordon develop, I gained insight into how I have changed throughout my time in high school. I have always struggled with being considered a large and intimidating person, and, like Gordon, I have had to work hard to make sure that I use my strength for good. After completing the book, I am left wanting to know more about where Gordon’s journey will take him next and wondering what the next stage of my journey will bring.
Barker, Danika. Archetypal Literary Criticism. Scribd.com. https://www.scribd.com/document/253907931/Archetypal-Literary-Criticism. Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.
Coady, Lynn. The Antagonist. House of Anansi Press Inc., 2011.