Fargo Character Archetypes

After reading Vogler’s book ‘The Writers Journey’, we decided to look at the characters from Fargo and assign them to the archetypes from the book to gain a better understanding of the characters and their role in the film.

We started looking at Jerry first, we decided he was best suited to the trickster archetype ( A catalyst that causes events to change but they themselves do not). In Fargo Jerry is the original source that eventually leads to serial killings, if it was not for him and his elaborate plan to kidnap his wife to make money both Carl and Gaear would not have commited the crimes in Fargo. We also felt that he could maybe be a Shadow archetype aswell, this is due to the dark desires that Jerry shows in the film.

We grouped Carl and Gaear together, they also fit into both the Shadow (often a hero’s enemy. They show dark desires or darkest fears) and the Trickster archetype. Their actions fuel the story and they also show very dark desires when they firstly kidnap Jean, their ability to kill people freely without hesitation and with no signs of feeling guilty are also evidence of just how dark these characters are. They are also being pursued throughout the film by the Hero (Marge).

Marge fitted best into the Hero archetype (they leave their ordinary world in order to answer a challenge and to restore a balance). When we first meet the Police Chief Marge she leaves quite an uneventful life, it is clear that there is not much crime going on in Fargo she also is happily married to her husband Norm, this is her ordinary world. When she finds out about the murders this was her call to adventure. She has to stop these murders and find out the truth about what has been going on to restore the balance in her life.

The Officers arent a major part in the story however we still felt that they could also fit into an Archetype. We believe they could be considered to be the Herald(This character/s announces change)  in Fargo. They are usually the source of information for Marge and contact her everytime there is a murder.

Jean’s father Wade is another character we looked at that could possibly be fitted to an archetype, the Mentor (Source of wisdom and motivator, they may have their own agenda). We were thinking that Wade could be considered a motivator for Jerry, this was due to the fact that Wades was pretty wealthy and that Jerry had a clear desire to be greedy and earn as much money as possible, it is very clear that Wade has his own agenda in Fargo, when he was told about the kidnapping he insisted on bringing the randsom money himself even though Jerry told him the kidnappers only wanted to deal with Jerry and this could ut his daughters life and his own at risk he still went ahead and done it anyway.

Mike Yanagita was seen as the shape shifter (provides uncertainty for the hero, behaviour can change). This was an easy character to fit to an archetype as he is only in one scene in the film. He asks Marge for dinner then makes a move on her even when he knows she is married to Norm. He also tells Marge about his wife and how she just recently passed away, Marge later finds out that he completely lied and didnt even get married.

We put Shep down as the threshold guardian (Can test hero, usually on the side of the shawdow characters). Shep is the threshold guardian as he provides a link to both the shadow characters for both Marge and Jerry. Shep must have been asked by Jerry if he knew anybody that was up for commiting serious crime as Jerry must have known about Shep’s police record. This is how Jerry goes from being a rip-off car salesman(ordinary world) into a criminal ( crossing the threshold). Shep is also key to Marge crossing the threshold and leaving her mundane police cases for one that is alot more serious. He is her first lead.


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