The Innocent Archetype [In-Depth Guide For Storytellers!]

innocent archetype character in a story

Key Takeaways:

The Innocent Archetype: The Innocent archetype captures the essence of naivety and purity. These fictional characters often enter a story with a hopeful outlook – and they discover the world’s complexities along the way.

Character Traits: Innocents are imaginative, endearing, trusting, and eternally hopeful. While they can seem weak or weak-minded, they tend to have an inner strength that lacks any self-doubt.

Emotional Bond & Growth: As Innocent characters face life’s harsh realities, they form deep emotional connections with others and undergo significant personal growth.

Ready to develop an innocent archetype character for your next story, novel, or movie?

The Innocent is a common character archetype in storytelling, and you’ll want to write them with care, as it’s easy to use tropes when writing this type of character.

So, this guide is going to cover everything from the Innocent’s strengths and weaknesses to their motivations, along with great examples of this archetype from popular books and movies. Let’s begin!

What Is The Innocent Archetype?

The Innocent, sometimes called the Child, is a character who starts off thinking everything is fine but soon faces the tough reality of the world. They are often young, but they might also just be young at heart, naïve, and learning things the hard way.

Their strengths include a big imagination, a trusting attitude, and always holding onto hope. However, Innocents are often not outwardly strong, can be too trusting, and might end up being tricked by others.

They are driven by a desire to learn, find happiness, and discover the truth about their situations. They just want to be themselves and hope the world can accept them as they are.

Their journey often teaches them—and us—valuable lessons about growth and the realities of life.

The motto of the innocent archetype character is:

Love learning about character archetypes for your stories?

Learn more about the classic Jungian archetypes, including tons of great examples from movies and books: the sage, the hero, the caregiver, the magician, the lover, the jester, the explorer, the ruler, the creator, the innocent, the outlaw and the everyman (everyperson).

There are also tons of more niche archetypes for your story characters, such as these: the monster archetype, the villain archetype and the friendly beast archetype.

Strengths of the Innocent Archetype

Imaginative

The innocent archetype is often shown as imaginative, with a childlike wonder that sees the world in a positive light. Their creativity knows no bounds, allowing them to dream big and envision a better tomorrow.

Innocent woman i.e., Anne

Example: Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables uses her imagination to turn everyday situations into exciting adventures. She sees the world around her with a sense of wonder and possibility.

Trusting

One of the strengths of the innocent archetype is their innate trust in and acceptance of others. They believe in the goodness of people and are quick to see the best in everyone they meet.

This trust can lead to meaningful connections and alliances, but it can also make them vulnerable to deception.

Example: Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump trusts everyone he meets without hesitation, seeing the best in people regardless of their intentions. This trait helps him make unexpected friends and opens doors to unique opportunities, though sometimes it leads him into dicey situations.

Hopeful

Above all, the innocent archetype embodies hope. No matter the challenges they face, they maintain an unwavering optimism that things will improve.

Their hopeful outlook inspires others and serves as a beacon of light in dark times.

Cinderella

Example: Cinderella in Cinderella remains hopeful despite her harsh living conditions and cruel treatment by her stepfamily. Her belief that her life will get better keeps her spirit alive and influences those around her to believe in a happier future.

Weaknesses of the Innocent Archetype

Weak

The innocent archetype’s childlike innocence can make them seem weak in the eyes of others.

They may struggle to stand up for themselves or assert their boundaries, leading to situations where they are easily pushed around.

Example: Piggy in Lord of the Flies is perceived as weak by the other boys on the island because of his sensitive nature. His struggle to assert himself and set boundaries makes it difficult for him to influence the group’s decisions. This often leaves him sidelined or outright bullied.

Naïve

Being overly trusting can make the innocent archetype blind to the harshness of the real world. They may not always see the signs of deceit or manipulation, leading them to make poor judgments or fall for scams.

Their naïve nature can put them in risky situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation.

Example: Lenny Small in Of Mice and Men exhibits a naïve nature because of his trusting disposition and limited understanding. He fails to recognize the dangers and manipulations in his environment, which ultimately leads to tragic misunderstandings.

Can get taken advantage of

Unfortunately, the innocent archetype is often taken advantage of by those with less honorable intentions. Their trusting nature and lack of suspicion make them easy targets for manipulation and exploitation.

They may find themselves in situations where they are used or deceived for someone else’s gain.

Example: John Coffey in The Green Mile is sentenced to death for two brutal murders he didn’t commit. Because of his innocent outlook and simple mind, he’s unable to communicate the truth and is taken advantage of by the real murderer, along with a corrupt system that sees him only as a monster.

Motivation of the Innocent Archetype

Learn

The innocent archetype is driven by a desire to learn and explore. They approach life with curiosity and wonder, always eager to discover new things and expand their knowledge.

This thirst for learning propels them forward and guides their journey.

Ariel - The Little Mermaid

Example: Ariel in The Little Mermaid is driven by her curiosity about the human world. Her desire to learn about and explore life above the sea leads her to collect human artifacts and takes her on an adventurous journey on land.

Seek Happiness

Above all, the innocent archetype seeks happiness and joy. They believe in the inherent goodness of life and strive to find contentment in every moment.

Their pursuit of happiness motivates them to seek out positive experiences and surround themselves with people who bring them joy.

Example: Pollyanna in Pollyanna is the epitome of seeking happiness. She plays the “Glad Game”, finding something to be happy about in every situation, no matter how dire. Her pursuit of joy keeps her spirits high and influences those around her to adopt a more positive outlook on life.

Find Truth

The innocent archetype is on a quest to find truth and meaning in the world. They are seekers of wisdom, constantly searching for deeper understanding and enlightenment.

Their journey toward truth drives them to question the status quo and explore different perspectives, which leads them to a greater sense of clarity and purpose.

Dorothy Wizard of Oz

Example: Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz seeks the truth about herself and the mysteries of the strange world around her. Her quest to find the mysterious Wizard while placing her trust in the strangers around her shapes her actions and decisions in the story.

Examples of the Innocent Archetype

Now, let’s take a look at some more famous Innocent archetype examples in famous books and movies.

  1. Elliot from E.T.: Elliot, a young boy in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, meets a lost alien and forms a deep friendship. His innocence helps him trust and protect his new friend against the adult world.

  2. Alice from Alice in Wonderland: Alice’s curiosity leads her to a fantastical world. Her naïve nature allows her to navigate Wonderland without fear.

  3. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: Scout Finch sees her world in Maycomb, Alabama through innocent eyes. Her perspective highlights the prejudices and injustices in her community.

  4. Hagrid in Harry Potter: Hagrid, the kind-hearted giant, shows a child-like innocence in his love for all creatures in the Harry Potter series.

  5. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy Gale is whisked away to Oz, where her innocence and kindness help her make friends and face challenges in order to find her way home.

  6. John Coffey in The Green Mile: John Coffey possesses supernatural abilities and a child-like purity despite being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.

  7. Cinderella from Cinderella: Cinderella’s gentle and optimistic nature endears her to all creatures, big and small, and helps her rise above her hardships.

  8. Mowgli from The Jungle Book: Raised by wolves, Mowgli retains his innocence while learning the laws of the jungle.

  9. Belle from Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s open heart and innocence lead her to see beyond the Beast’s appearance to the kindness within.

  10. Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: Frodo’s innocence and moral purity guide him on his perilous journey to destroy the ring.

  11. Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables: Anne’s imaginative and innocent outlook transforms the lives of those around her in Avonlea.

  12. Ponyboy in The Outsiders: Ponyboy, a sensitive boy caught in gang conflicts, views the world with a mix of hope and naivety.

  13. Bambi from Bambi: Bambi, a young deer, faces the joys and sorrows of the forest with wide-eyed wonder.

  14. Lucy Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia: Lucy’s belief in Narnia allows her to lead her siblings to this magical world.

  15. Max in Where the Wild Things Are: Max travels to a land of wild creatures, where his innocence allows him to become their king.

  16. Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie’s good nature and simplicity win him the ultimate prize in a world of temptations.

  17. Dory in Finding Nemo: Dory’s unwavering belief in the goodness of others drives her to help Marlin find his son, even in the face of potential pitfalls such as sharks and humans.

  18. Pippin Took in The Lord of the Rings: Pippin’s youthful innocence and curiosity often lead him into trouble, but they also bring a lightness to the grave circumstances faced by the fellowship.

  19. Chauncey Gardner in Being There: Chauncey’s simplistic outlook and eternal optimism make others see wisdom in his words and actions, even when it’s not there.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing an Innocent

  1. What does innocence mean for this character?

    • How do they show their innocence in their daily actions and decisions?

  2. What lessons does the character need to learn?

    • What experiences will challenge their innocence and force them to grow?

  3. How does the character view the world around them?

    • Do they see the world as mostly good, or are they unaware of the darker aspects of life?

  4. What is the character’s biggest challenge due to their innocence?

    • How does their naïve perspective make things difficult for them?

  5. How do other characters influence their innocence?

    • Who protects their innocence, and who threatens it?

  6. What are the character’s strengths and weaknesses that come from being innocent?

    • How does their innocence help or hinder them in various situations?

  7. How does the character’s innocence impact their relationships with others?

    • How do people react to their innocent nature?

  8. What is the turning point for the character’s innocence in the story?

    • At what moment do they face a critical test that could change their understanding of the world?

  9. How will the character evolve by the end of the story?

    • Will they retain their innocence, or will they lose it? What will they gain or lose through this change?

  10. What message does the character’s journey with innocence convey to the audience?

    • What do you want readers to take away from this character’s experiences?

Innocent Archetype pin

Summary

So, that’s my take on the innocent archetype in storytelling!

The innocent archetype is characterized by naivety and purity. These characters view the world with wonder and optimism, and they bring a sense of hope and sincerity to their stories.

If you’re looking for more assistance with different kinds of character archetypes for your story, check out some of my other articles in this series, such as the sage archetype, the hero archetype, the caregiver archetype and the outlaw archetype.

If you need some more assistance with your creative story, check out my story consulting services. You might just need someone to help you throw around some ideas to get your story the best it can be!

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