Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Lost Soul

The Lost Soul

The lost soul archetype is one of my absolute favorites. Something about this tortured hero calls to my inner Libra, imploring me to drop whatever I’m doing and fix what has been broken immediately!

The lost soul is exactly that -- lost. At some point in his life, be it during child or adulthood, he has suffered great pain in some form, which (in most cases) eventually drove him into a protective shell of solitude. He is typically solemn, passionate, deep, and brooding. But most of all, he seems outwardly incapable of leaving himself vulnerable to the risk of further heartache. This hero has been burned by fate and doesn’t relish the thought of tempting her wrath by reaching out to another person.

One good example of a lost soul is widowed police officer, Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon. This poor hero was so devastated by the premature loss of his wife he became a kamikaze–style cop, immersing himself in the dangers of his job, and often in the bottom of a whiskey bottle. With nothing left to lose, Riggs plowed into criminal cases with an unspoken desperation that courted suicide.

By the end of the movie, however, he’d found some amount of solace in the welcoming acceptance of his partner and his loving family. And by the end of the series, partly because of the growth and healing his partner helped guide him through, he was finally able to trust his heart, and allow himself to love and marry again. (You’ve gotta love a HEA!)

Another good example would be Frank Castle. Talk about your tortured souls…Frank did not consider himself lucky to survive when a crime boss out for revenge ordered his minions to wipe out the entire Castle family at their annual reunion. He was forced to watch helplessly as his entire family was brutally assassinated, including his wife and son. He then transforms himself into The Punisher, completely void of self, his mind set on one objective – to make them pay.
By the end of the movie, Frank viciously manipulates his revenge. But along the way he meets a loveable group of misfits who eventually manage to burrow into his gloomy good graces. Though he doesn’t quite find that happily ever after place that we all love to see our heroes reach, he does find the will to feel again, and leaves you with hope that one day he’ll find that special woman to help put the pieces of his shattered heart back together.

The last hero I wanted to discuss is the consummate lost soul. No discussion of this archetype would be complete without him. He is the only lost soul who became even more lost after his soul was returned to him.

The prime example of a lost soul, Angel is a vampire with a soul, forced to live for eternity bearing the burden of his soulless misdeeds. Dark and solitary, not only is Angel hesitant to open his heart to a woman, he suffers from the knowledge that no matter what, it will always be a lost cause. Because of the Gypsy curse that restored his soul, he is forbidden from experiencing even one moment of peace lest he lose his soul again, returning him to the demon-possessed monster responsible for so many deaths in the past. Simply put, Angel is strictly prohibited from physically consummating any meaningful relationship he might otherwise have nurtured.

The bad news is, even though he found himself involved with Buffy Summers in one of television’s most memorable love stories, it wasn’t meant to be, and the two star-crossed lovers parted ways with heavy hearts. The good news…look at it this way, even though he didn’t find his HEA in Buffy’s arms, he has the rest of eternity to find a way to love again. And Joss Whedon willing…he will!

Tell me about your favorite lost soul, and why you do or don’t love them.

Posted by: Tracy Preston


Charlene said...

I enjoy reading about this type of hero. Edward, in Twilight, is a lost soul.

Mary Ricksen said...

Who doesn't enjoy reading about a lost soul who is redeemed, finds love, and changes his life. It's the basis for a number of books. Even the heroine can be a lost soul. Your
heart just naturally goes out to them.

Amy said...

I LOOOOOOVED Angel. I think that show, along with the final few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were some of the finest writing I've ever seen on televsion. I love the lost soul archetype. There's something so beautiful about seeing him "found" or healed or finally affirmed. Of course, he always has worth in the eyes of those around him, but it means more coming from the woman he falls for!

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to help Martin Riggs aka Mel Gibson find his soul anytime, any place, any way.

Great blog!

Devon Matthews said...

Tracy, you covered some really good Lost Soul heroes in the movies and on tv. When I tried to think of a Lost Soul hero, the only ones who came to mind were in romance novels--and both their names were Johnny. Johnny Cain in Penelope Williamson's "The Outsider" and Johnny Harris in Karen Robards' "One Summer." LOVED both those books!

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Thanks so much for dropping by ladies! :)

Charlene - I almost used the infamous Mr. Cullen for this blog, but I didn't want to do 2 vamps, and I couldn't possibly have chosen Edward over Angel! I fell for Angel when I was still in high school! (**wink**) And on top of that, oddly enough I find myself leaning more toward Jasper's character. He appeals to me for some reason. Now he's definitely a lost soul...

Amy - Angel is quite possibly my favorite vampire character of all time. A lot of people would argue that Spike was the more charismatic of the two (and I'll give Spike his props, he was compelling), but I can't get past the depth and passion Angel emotes from every single pore! That trumps witty quips and that almost irresistible British charm any day...at least for me.

Devon - I wracked my brain while I was writing this blog trying to think of a literary lost soul to add, but to be honest, I drew a total blank. Besides Edward Cullen, just about every book I've read lately has had a total Alpha hero...mostly warrior types. Hmmm...wonder what's up with that??

Terry Odell said...

I think all my heroes have that 'lost soul' quality somewhere. Some deeper than others, but I'm not a fan of the uber-alpha. There has to be that vulnerability, those character layers, or they're just cartoons.

(And may I say THANK YOU for the larger font in a color that doesn't clash with the background! Aging eyes find some combinations and sizes hard to read.)

Unknown said...

Martin Riggs...I feel a real connection with Riggs, especially in the earlier movies. I know it is a fictional caracter but he is like me in so many ways,out of anyone I can think of I am most like him. Except for the fact that i dont want to die, But I am not afraid of it. I have considered being a cop, and/or firefighter and i think it is just to put myself in danger. Especially if it is to save a life. Everyone that knows me says I am "Crazy" what exactly they mean I am not sure, I think that it is my lack of fear, I want to be in harms way and I want to put those who deserve it to justice in my own way even if you say it is "Crazy" Martin Riggs Is So Much Like Me It Is Unreal. By far my favorite movie and movie character. Great acting by Mel Gibson Also he really Nailed that Personality. No one else could do it the way he did...never

Anonymous said...

what is a HEA

Anonymous said...

HEA stands for Happily Ever After. ;)

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