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  • Foto van schrijverIris Marsh

The Hero’s Journey: Archetype Series, Part 7 – The Ally

Bijgewerkt op: 24 aug. 2023

The Hero’s Journey Archetype series continues with the Ally archetype.


This series focuses on the Hero’s Journey Archetypes as described in The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.

For the previous parts, check out:


Hero's Journey Archetypes: the Ally

The Ally archetype

Of all the archetypes, the Ally archetype in the Hero’s Journey might just be the easiest to grasp.


Every Hero needs a friend to help them. An Ally is usually a friendly figure who fights by the Hero’s side (Samwise Gamgee, anyone?).


It might go without saying, but a Hero can, of course, have more than one ally.


Psychology

The Ally archetype can represent some unexpressed or unused parts of the Hero’s character that is needed to do the job. They’re the under-utilized parts that are helpful to our journey in life.


Unlike the Shadow archetype, which exists of the suppressed qualities of the Hero’s personality, an Ally’s characteristics are more or less forgotten by the hero. Allies can be powerful internal forces.


Story function

An Ally can have several functions, like being a companion, sparring partner, conscience, or comic relief. They can carry messages, go on errands, or scout locations. They’re someone the Hero can talk to, to make the hero more human and well-rounded as a character. The Ally archetype can also challenge the Hero, so they become more balanced.


Allies help when a problem needs to be solved and allow expression of fear, humor, or ignorance.

Another function of the Ally archetype in the Hero’s Journey is to introduce the reader into an unfamiliar world. The Allies can ask questions that the reader would want to know.


Even when the Hero is not very talkative, or it would be awkward for them to explain something that’s logical to them but illogical to the reader, an Ally can do the explaining. This is the case when an Ally is a character who, as the reader, is new to the world of the story.


Types of Allies

There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to Allies. Below you’ll find the most common ones.


Sidekicks

These Ally archetypes are especially popular in Westerns, but we also know them from superhero movies and comics, such as Batman and Robin. The sidekick is someone the Hero keeps close, like Tonto in the Lone Rangers.


The relationship between the Hero and the sidekick can be complex; sometimes it even becomes dramatic material on its own. This can happen, for instance, when the two characters fight together but are on opposite spectrums on a cultural or societal issue, causing them to also fight among each other.


Supernatural and non-human allies

Allies don’t have to be exclusively human. Think about Disney’s Tangled: Rapunzel has her green chameleon as an Ally and the horse later on in the story. Or, if we look at the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb, Fitz has multiple animal allies throughout the trilogy, most notably Nighteyes the wolf.


But this type of Ally doesn’t need to be an animal. It can be a guardian angel, some other sort of spirit protector, or a minor deity. Or a snowman brought to life with magic.


The Ally doesn’t even need to be supernatural: it can also be an imaginary friend.


What about ghosts? Yes, they can also be Allies. The dead can give aid to the Hero from beyond the grave, either in spirit or in their signature ghostly form.


Last but not least: we live in an increasingly modern world, and AI and robots can very well serve as allies. Let’s also not forget about potential other races in space that can function as allies if you’re writing a science fiction story.


Helpful servants

This is an Ally archetype that occurs a lot in romantic tales. The Ally helps the Hero achieve their goal by carrying love letters or providing disguises and hideaways. Pretty much anything to help the Hero along.


A great example of this Ally archetype (even if it’s not a romantic story) is Planchet, from The Three Musketeers. Or Alfred, Batman’s butler (where the Ally overlaps with the Mentor archetype).


Wrapping Up

That’s it for the Ally archetype of the Hero’s Journey. While it’s an archetype you will likely already instinctively have in your story, it can’t hurt to take a closer look at it and understand what the functions of the Allies in your story are.


As usual, I like to stress that all archetypes are fluid. They don’t need to be one character, and a character can be different archetypes at different points in the story. An Ally can, on occasion, wear the mask of a Mentor, a Shapeshifter, or even the Shadow.


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