Pinocchio and the 4 archetypes

Reads: 1515  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Pinocchio and the 4 archetypes is a recent essay I wrote, which applys Carl Jung's psychological archetypes and other theories to the original story 'The adventures of Pinocchio' by Carlo Collodi.

Submitted: January 12, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 12, 2017



Pinocchio and the 4 archetypes.

The adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi is a cautionary tale of the dangers, travails and temptations of society and the consequences of living a neglectful or careless life. The story is told from the perspective of Pinocchio –a marionette. Pinocchio starts out as the artistic compulsion of Geppetto, then soon becomes the embodiment of something more. Strangely though he is not quite the son the old man may have envisioned, but he loves him. The adventures of Pinocchio could be seen partly as a day in the life of Geppetto, for it is also the story of looking back on a life lived and how the lessons and experiences of that life can be so powerful that they can revivify in fanciful and mythic guises in order to reveal their full nature. And Pinocchio? He is too precocious to sit in the shop on a shelf. Carl Jung may seem strange company with these two, but in fact he was born within a mere 8 years of Pinocchio, so they may have had some similar experiences in their time. In this essay Carl Jung’s concepts of the shadow, the ego, the persona, and the anima will be used to illustrate some character traits and episodes throughout the story.

The beginning of the story is a good place to start for two reasons. That is where Geppetto’s shadow appears and makes itself known to him. It is also the place where Pinocchio is given birth, though he is still encased in a block of wood at the time. Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow is described by him as follows: “The shadow is that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors…If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of evil, it can now be ascertained on closer investigation that the unconscious man, that is his shadow does not consist only of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also displays a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses etc “(1)

Geppetto shows up at the shop of fellow craftsman, mastro Cherry, looking for a block of wood to shape. While Geppetto is looking at wood pieces he hears someone call him by a name the neighborhood kids sometimes call him by; a name which he certainly doesn’t like. ‘Polendina.’ Being only himself, Mastro Cherry and a block of wood present, Geppetto assumes the obvious and the two men come to blows, twice. It was In fact Pinocchio getting to know Geppetto by playing with his shadow. Geppetto and mastro Cherry soon forgive and forget and Geppetto leaves with his block of wood, and with his shadow now looming large over him.

Pinocchio is now so vivid in his mind that he must be made ‘in the flesh’ so to speak. Geppetto works and works away at the block of wood, but Pinocchio is so mischievous that he continues to provoke and play tricks with Geppetto even before he is fully formed. Once finished Pinocchio runs out into the streets with Geppetto chasing after him, who ends up in jail from the incident. He is exasperated with the marionette. Pinocchio is bundle of energy. He is pure ego wanting to go in search of all possible freedoms and pleasures, and he has no reason to think he can’t have them. “The ego is, by definition, subordinate to the self and is related to it like a part to the whole. Inside the field of consciousness it has, as we say, free will. By this I do not mean anything philosophical, only the well-known psychological fact of "free choice," or rather the subjective feeling of freedom. But, just as our free will clashes with necessity in the outside world, so also it finds its limits outside the field of consciousness in the subjective inner world, where it comes into conflict with the facts of the self. And just as circumstances or outside events "happen" to us and limit our freedom, so the self acts upon the ego like an objective occurrence which free will can do very little to alter.”(1b)  Life is quick to hit back, but Pinocchio is resilient. This dichotomy of the shadow and the ego is a fascinating part of the story.  What started for Geppetto as an artistic compulsion has become a living marionette son, and one who throws him into turmoil then a crisis. Pinocchio has become much too real. Before Geppetto has time to try and figure the boy out, Pinocchio has sold the ABCs textbook that he bought him and is gone.

Pinocchio it seems, has now truly taken on a life of his own apart from geppetto, and in doing, he meets the menagerie of characters, rogues and friends that will tempt, coerce and care for him and shape his awareness of himself and who he decides he wants to be. The majority of these characters are animals. One has been left behind: a prescient talking cricket bludgeoned by Pinocchio beneath a hammer. He is a first warning and voice of reason and experience who reveals the volatility that is looming just below the surface of Pinocchio’s exuberant energy; he will return from the dead later to see Pinocchio again. Also to be met are the blind cat and the lame fox. They are only faking it; they live in a world of deception, until their shadows engulf them and make them blind and lame for real. Pinocchio is hung and left for dead by them when the fairy with azure hair rescues him. She is the archetypal figure of guidance and otherworldly benevolence in a harsh world. The following passage illustrates one of Pinocchio’s well known physical quirks of his nature. It also illustrates the dichotomy of the ego contending with physical reality and the unconscious then addressing these struggles in its own mysterious way. “Crying as if his heart would break, the Marionette mourned for hours over the length of his nose. No matter how he tried, it would not go through the door. The Fairy showed no pity toward him, as she was trying to teach him a good lesson, so that he would stop telling lies, the worst habit any boy may acquire. But when she saw him, pale with fright and with his eyes half out of his head from terror, she began to feel sorry for him and clapped her hands together. A thousand woodpeckers flew in through the window and settled themselves on Pinocchio's nose. They pecked and pecked so hard at that enormous nose that in a few moments, it was the same size as before.”(A)

Pinocchio however, soon leaves her and falls for the deceptions of the fox and cat again. One may wonder about Geppetto -who may be sitting in thoughtful contemplation of these developments. Might the fairy with azure hair be his anima of the fourth stage trying to communicate with Pinocchio, while he keeps straying from her? In the fourth stage “When the ego has a conscious relation to animus or anima, it is no longer subject to possession, and the contrasexual element becomes a conduit by which the contents of the collective unconscious can move from the unconscious to the ego.”(1c) Meanwhile Pinocchio continues on after escaping the cat and fox, and meets a languishing serpent; and is so frightened that he runs back wildly for half a mile. After much waiting and an attempt to address the snake Pinocchio decides to try and step over it; the snake shoots up like a spring then bursts an artery laughing when Pinocchio lands head first in the mud. You can’t judge a snake by its reputation. ‘It is important to realize that in classical antiquity, as in other civilizations, the serpent not only was an animal that aroused fear and represented danger, but also signified healing.’(6)

Pinocchio has many more trials to go through yet. He is chained up as a watch dog, he then finds a grave stone for the fairy with azure hair and is heartbroken. This seems illustrative of the dark side of the anima “Thus the insinuations of the anima, the mouthpiece of the unconscious can utterly destroy a man. In the final analysis the decisive factor is always consciousness which can understand the manifestation of the unconscious and take up a position toward them.”(5)

Pinocchio carries on and when he spots his father (Geppetto himself) far out at sea, hope is renewed. He cannot reach him though. A peasant woman then assists him in a desperate time of need and he discovers it is the fairy with azure hair –she is not dead after all.  Pinocchio’s last trial is his most difficult and it comes as a strong and tempting appeal to his ego and to his persona. “This arbitrary segment of the collective psyche –often fashioned with considerable pains- I have called the persona. The term persona is really a very appropriate expression for this, for originally it meant the mask worn by actors to indicate the role they played. It is a compromise between individual and society as to what a man should appear to be.”(2) He meets a classmate who tells him of a carriage coming to take him to a land where there is no cares, worries, nor school or any such responsibilities. Pinocchio’s hard won learning is slowly worn down by the the temptation of endless days of play and peace of mind. A carriage comes drawn by multi-colored donkeys, and Pinocchio gets on with his friend. On the way to the land of toys the cruel and manipulative forces at work are hidden beneath an exterior of smiles and congeniality. The carriage driver reveals himself to the reader though when he pretends to soothe one of the donkeys who is moody. “Again the boys shouted with laughter. But the Little Man, instead of laughing, became so loving toward the little animal that, with another kiss, he bit off half of his left ear.”(A2) The land of toys appears at first to be everything promised, but unconscious bliss leads to strange malformations of spirit and form and sets up Pinocchio and his friend for the easy taking. Having grown into his new donkey body, Pinocchio is sent to work for the circus. In the depths of his sorrow he sees his fairy with the azure hair in the audience one night but she does not recognise him as a braying donkey. Gone lame, he is sold to a fishermen who throws him into the ocean to drown him for his skin to make a drumhead. “My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak. I call you- are you there? I have returned. I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet.”(4) Pinocchio pops up to the surface transformed back into a marionette and swims out into the ocean (the unconscious) to confront his demons once and for all and to save himself. He is swallowed into the belly of the whale where at last he finds Geppetto. Together they are strong and they find their way out of the whale and back home together.

In the end Geppetto comes to terms with his own inner child -who had quite likely been a bad and mischievous boy- by having love and understanding for Pinocchio. They’ve saved each other. He imagines the marionette transformed into the child he never had, and himself as a young man again working away in his shop. He is the artist who has devoted his life to his art and in return his art nourishes him and makes him feel young in spirit, though he is an old man. Pinocchio lives on in his heart as a real boy while the marionette still sits on the shelf in his shop.

The ego and the persona are worldly and outward looking, and the shadow and the anima/animus are inner realities. The life of the artist -Geppetto- draws from the anima and the shadow and seeks to create out of them. From that inner source of daimons and intuitions come his wood etchings, decorations and puppets like Pinocchio. Pinocchio is the marionette of the ego and persona who must wander off and find out who he is, but neither is alone; they cannot exist without each other. Geppetto ponders him and carves in his shop waiting for him to return as Carlo Collodi writes another line. The artist knows he must give of his self when he cares about his creation, or he loses something of his self. He knows where danger hides; he’s been there before.







MLA (Modern Language Assoc.)
Collodi, Carlo. The Adventures Of Pinocchio. Champaign, Ill: Project Gutenberg, n.d. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 5 Dec. 2016.  pg 36. (A)

.MLA (Modern Language Assoc.)
Collodi, Carlo. The Adventures Of Pinocchio. Champaign, Ill: Project Gutenberg, n.d. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 5 Dec. 2016.  pg 71. (A2)

 (1b) APA (American Psychological Assoc.) Seneca libraries.
The Aion Lectures : Exploring the Self in C.G. Jung's Aion. (1996) Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books. Pg 24. (1b)

APA (American Psychological Assoc.) Seneca libraries.
The Aion Lectures : Exploring the Self in C.G. Jung's Aion. (1996) Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books. Pg 32. (1)

APA (American Psychological Assoc.) Seneca libraries.
The Aion Lectures : Exploring the Self in C.G. Jung's Aion. (1996) Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books. Pg 32. (1c)


(2) Jung, Carl. The portable Jung. Penguin books. 1976. Pgs 105-106.

(5) Jung, Carl. Memories, dreams, reflections. Vintage books. 1989. Pg 187.

(4) Jung, Carl. The red book. Norton & company. 2009. Pg 127.

(6) Jung, Carl. Analytical psychology. Routledge classics. 2014. Pg 96



The adventures of Pinocchio. Carlo Collodi.

The Aion lectures. C.G Jung.

The Portable Jung. C.G. Jung

Memories, dreams, reflections. C.G Jung.

The red book. C.G Jung.

Analytical psychology. C.G. Jung.

© Copyright 2019 pjan. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Editorial and Opinion Essays