ARTEMIS: THE AMAZON AND THE GORGON

Under the glimmer of moonlight among towering forest trees, walks the goddess Artemis. Close to her side she carries with her a silver bow and arrows.  She glides through the night watching over innocent young women and seeking out a challenger to polish her skill as an expert archer.  She is the chief hunter to the gods, goddesses and wild animals.  As she walks beneath the moon in her wilderness, her ears are ever open for the sound of a young female, human or animal, who may need her help in childbirth or need her protection from rape.  With a quick temper she punishes those who offend her.  She is a goddess who chooses to live without a mate, self-sufficient.  With great precision and concentration, she sets her mind’s eye on a goal and pursues it until the end.

The Amazon

The Amazon is a feminist. She cares more about the female cause than she cares for her own safety.  She wouldn’t hesitate to come to the aid of another woman or child no matter what the risk is to herself.  Her friendships with women are the most important relationships she has, but they are few and far between due to her androgynous attitudes.  Her masculine side is just as strong as her feminine side, which sometimes leaves her confused about where she fits in with others.  She doesn’t keep up with fashion trends and she doesn’t value the “stay at home” or the “corporate career” woman, which most women are these days.

She is a wild woman who spends as much time in nature as possible. She’s never happy living in the city for long and may become frustrated with her life until she discovers her true passion for the outdoors.  The solitude of walking in the crisp night air brings her back into balance, and she is never afraid of being out alone at night.

She is an “earth mother” of sorts, taking up the causes of recycling and protecting the earth’s resources. She is intuitive, instinctual and loves to travel and explore exotic places.  Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) in Titanic is a caged Amazon.

What Does the Amazon Care About?

  • An Amazon cares deeply about the feminine, nature and the earth. There’s no love lost between her and the government when they start regulating land near natural resources. She believes the earth is for everyone. No one “owns” the land, and she’ll go wherever she pleases.
  • She looks after women and children and passionately fights patriarchy. She feels everyone deserves to be free and independent and that women are equal to men in all situations.
  • Competitive sports are her favorite pastime and winning is always the goal.

What Does the Amazon Fear?

  • The Amazon fears losing her freedom and independence. She takes great pride in being able to take care of herself. Going to prison or becoming paralyzed would kill her spirit. She places value on being self-sufficient and looks down on others who are dependent and needy, even though she comes to their aid.
  • Her competitive nature makes her afraid of losing, whether it’s a job or a sporting event. And she especially doesn’t want to lose a man. She’s afraid she’ll never hear the end of it. She enjoys proving she’s the equal of any man, mostly in physical ways.
  • She’s most afraid of being vulnerable. She would rather die than become a victim, especially of a sexual assault. Her spirit could never survive such a humiliation. She will fight to the death against any attacker, making her a force to reckon with.
  • She isn’t afraid of her own death but afraid of other women and children dying when she could’ve helped them. She finds her identity in being the rescuer.
  • She’s afraid of other women, alienating her for her masculine attributes. She’s not into makeup and hairstyles. She’s a “let’s go out and tear up the town” kind of gal. Female friendships are important to her but it’s hard to find other Amazons to go out with. She winds up having more male friends than female friends.

What Motivates the Amazon?

  • Survival is her biggest motivator. She loves being left alone in the wilds to fend for herself. Her relationship with wild animals and nature makes her instinctual and primal, and she can take this instinct to the boardroom to battle men for position and power.
  • Getting behind a cause she cares deeply about invigorates her. She needs to be challenged and stimulated, otherwise boredom sets in along with depression. She admits all the women who fought for the right to vote, risking their safety for the greater good.
  • Saving a woman’s or child’s life gives her purpose and enormous self-esteem.

How Do Other Characters See the Amazon?

  • She doesn’t think too much about her clothes. She loves to wear loose-fitting clothing that she can move around in easily. In Greek mythology Artemis asks her father Zeus for a short tunic to wear, not because it’s sexy, but because it will allow her to run fast.
  • Her athletic figure is sometimes alluring but also intimidating to both men and women.
  • Other people sometimes see her as cold and totally absorbed in her own tasks. She has an ability to focus so intently on her goals that it leaves her looking distant and aloof at times, but when she’s enjoying nature she plays like a child. She never wears a watch because time is meaningless to her.

Developing the Character Arc

Look at your character’s main goal in your story and then at the fears you have selected to use against her. What does she need to learn to help her overcome her fear?  Does she need to raise a child?  Does she need to use her intellect and come to terms with city life?  Does she have to come to terms with not being able to save someone?

Very often an Amazon wants a place of her own with a small group of close friends who come and go. She wants to be recognized for her efforts and all the help she gives.  She needs to learn to trust men most of all.

What happened to her at an early age to make this archetype dominate her personality? Was she raised without a mother and sisters, making her take on attributes from her father?  Was her mother an Amazon?  Did she play sports instead of dress up?  Did she watch as someone she loved was hurt?  Was there a heroic female character she idolized and wanted to be, like Wonder Woman?

To grow, this archetype is best paired with one of the following:

  • The Protector – can teach her to trust others to help her.
  • The Fool and The Maiden – can teach her about fun, adventure and how to be easy going.
  • The Nurturer – can teach her the value of giving birth and being a mother.

THE AMAZON

Assets:

  • Loves to be outside with animals and nature.
  • Prefers female friendships to male, but often winds up with more male friends.
  • Values women and children.
  • Is a feminist even if she doesn’t say she is in your story.
  • Is unafraid to be out alone at night.
  • Is willing and able to fight to the death to defend herself.
  • Stands up for her causes.
  • Prefers function to style when it comes to her clothes and appearance.
  • Wants to be self-sufficient.
  • Prefers to live with a man instead of marrying him.

Flaws:

  • Can be very opinionated and thickheaded.
  • Puts blinders on; everything but the goal at hand is forgotten.
  • Can become irrational because of her need to win at all costs.
  • Can be boastful.
  • May take on the traits of her aggressors in order to feel equal to them.

The Villainous Side of the Amazon: The Gorgon

As a villain she would do anything to come to the aid of another woman, even if it meant killing an innocent man by mistake. Her rage at injustice is swift, merciless and sometimes aimed at the wrong person.

She is Medusa, the Gorgon, the woman of fury and rage, especially is she’s been violated. She can turn deadly when she feels threatened and is capable of using extremely physical means to express her anger.  Most men don’t expect a woman to be as strong as her rage can make her.

She’ll fight to the death like a mother lion protecting her cubs. In her fury she won’t think about her own life and survival.  She sees red and fights like someone who struggles for air; nothing else matters.  All thoughts of democracy, diplomacy, and right and wrong are irrelevant to her.  She’ll be avenged at all costs.  If her cause is just she feels the Goddess will support her, make her efforts successful and forgive her for her brutality.

She’s antisocial with irresponsible behavior that lacks morals and ethics. She exhibits unlawful reckless behavior, refusing to conform to social norms.  She seems to have no emotional reactions and shows no remorse toward horrific events.  She is physically aggressive, erratic and irritable, and disregards the safety of herself and of others.

She feels justified in her actions because she feels basic rights have been violated. She wants to enable women to be strong and defend themselves at all costs.  Sometimes one person is unjustly killed but she believes if it saves many then so be it.  She doesn’t care if she becomes just like the aggressor she hates.  She believes in fighting fire with fire.  She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, and she’ll destroy herself before she lets anyone else do it for her.  She feels she is the master of her life and destiny.

THE GORGON

  • Is instinctual and shows no remorse.
  • Wants instant gratification and justice.
  • Is blind with fury and rage.
  • Creates extremely emotional reactions out of proportion to offense.
  • Isn’t levelheaded.
  • Acts as a dictator, dispensing justice.
  • Believes truth and law have no place in the heat of battle.
  • Will sacrifice herself to get an enemy.
  • Usually reacts from repressed trauma or years of abuse.
  • Exhibits reckless behavior.
  • Is aggressive, erratic and irritable.

 

Diana in Action

Amazon/Gorgon TV Heroes

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Xena (Lucy Lawless) in Xena: Warrior Princess

Dr. Michaela Quinn (Jane Seymour) in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

Nikita (Peta Wilson) in La Femme Nikita

Amazon/Gorgon Film Heroes

Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) in Titanic      

Lieutenant Ellen L. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien

Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) in Thelma & Louise

Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep) in Silkwood

Captain Karen Emma Walden (Meg Ryan) in Courage Under Fire

Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in The Terminator

Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) in Miss Congeniality

Amazon/Gorgon Literary and Historical Heroes

Wonder Woman

Joan of Arc

Queen Boudica

Fa Mu Lan in The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

Sal in The Beach by Alex Garland

Jo March in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Helen Schlegel in Howards End by E.M. Forster

Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by E.M. Forester

Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Idgie Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

 

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