Following in my series on archetypes as started with Threshold Guardians and the Forbidden Door, I would like to look at a storyline archetype that, in the write hands, can be one of the funnest to portray. Tricksters.
Tricksters are usually the center of fun, mischief, and mayhem in the story. They delight in upsetting the status quo or in “taking the mikey” out of other characters or the hero. They present the hero with a challenge unlike other characters as they question authority and promote chaos--encouraging the hero to question as well.
For tricksters in Harry Potter, we need look no further than Fred and George Weasley. They fit the Trickster description to a Wesley sweater embroidered T. Their spiritual counterpart is Peeves, which is why it was so delightful at the end of OotP, when Gred and Forge passed their mischievous torch to Peeves, and he seized it wholeheartedly.
Like many fans, I find Peeves and the twins’ antics totally amusing, and I fully understand why Dumbledore keeps Peeves about the place. In holding your reader's attention, it’s important to have someone kick things up a bit, to foster a constant element of surprise.
Without the Trickster upsetting the status quo, life would not only be duller, but the hero’s path more difficult. Tricksters provide aide for the Hero, if only indirectly. Not only can they poke the hero’s flaw (oh Potter you Rotter) quite painfully, but by showing clearly a different mindset, an opposing world view, an alternate way of being, they enable the hero to do the same. As Ginny says, when you’ve hung around Fred and George for a while, you start believing anything is possible.
JKR magnificently uses her Tricksters to not only upset the status quo, but to propel her hero onward in his quest. Without Fred and George, Harry would definitely not have discovered as many secrets about Hogwarts and his father. And without Peeves poking at his wounds, Harry might not have peered as deep into his own inner conflicts.
In what way have you used a Trickster archetype recently?
Peeves picture credit.