Saturday, January 15, 2011

Those Tricky Twins and That Peevish Peeves

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.


  1. I haven't used one but after this, I might need to apply it more. I like how they can be used in such a dynamic way. Good points!

  2. Thanks BookGeek! They're such fun characters to work with as well!

  3. Oh I love that! I do have a character in my newest submission (who happens to be one of my favorites) that certainly shakes things up. I think it's important to remember that even if he is the "trickster" it doesn't mean he isn't a fully developed multi-dimensional character. Like both Fred and George! :D

  4. Totally agree with you Lisa. And I wish you the best of luck with your submission!

  5. I hadn't thought of Fred, George, and Peeves as tricksters, but you're totally right. I love this perspective, and it gives me more respect for all three of these characters (who I never really connected with as I was reading the books). I've always been fascinated by the trickster theme in Native American and African folklore -- Anansi the spider and coyotes, for example. They really are integral to so many stories. I need to think about how I can add some of these characters to my stories. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Thanks Jamie for your comments. I'm glad my post helped a bit. And you bring up an aspect of how the trickster has been used in folklore and mythology that I wasn't really able to get into and still keep my post within a decent length. The trickster archetype is truly hard to summarize because it's used very differently by various cultures -- but always to stir things up a bit, it seems to me. Love your examples!

    Thanks for visiting and for commenting!

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