PERSEPHONE: THE MAIDEN AND THE TROUBLED TEEN

Dancing through the fields, Persephone picks flowers as the sun sets. Without a care in the world, she stops to watch butterflies flutter around her feet.  In the distance she sees a magnificent narcissus flower and runs towards it.  Picking the flower, her mind so absorbed in the moment, she doesn’t see Hades rising up from the Earth to kidnap her as his bride, the flower his bait.  The harsh reality of life has taken her by surprise and awakened her from her blissful stupor.  She learns to use her suffering to help others by guiding the souls of the dead to their final resting places.  Her mother’s grief at her absence allows her to return above ground in the spring when the flowers bloom.

The Maiden

The Maiden lives a charmed playful life unconcerned with annoying daily errands and problems. “It’s no big deal” is her mantra.  She’s not stressed out because she never worries about things.  She takes risks because she feels invulnerable and pushes others to follow her on her exploits.  Her self-confidence rubs off on others.

Age isn’t a factor when creating this archetype since she may be in her forties yet still acts like a little girl who wants to party and have fun. Her youthful looks never fade.  She hasn’t grown up and doesn’t want to.  Marriage, kids and responsibility aren’t foremost on her mind.

When something happens that pushes her to open her eyes she’ll find that she has a big heart and a great capacity to be a healer and a guide for others.

The Maiden doesn’t realize the danger that lurks in the world. Trauma can be a rite of passage for her, opening her eyes to reality.  There are occasions where she may suppress a traumatic experience as if it never happened, but she then becomes a ticking time bomb as similar situations in her life force the memory to the surface.

What does the Maiden Care About?

  • The Maiden cares about her relationship with her mother. She tries to stay on the good side of others who support and take of her. She’ll hold her tongue and keep her opinions to herself to keep the peace.
  • She likes being dependent upon others; it removes responsibility for her life from her own shoulders. She prefers to let others worry about paying the bills.
  • She loves to meet new people and have fun. She’s always looking for the next fad, trend or game to play. Everything new and different catches her eye. She’s never bored. She likes to take classes because they only last a few weeks and change often. She can meet new people every semester.

What Does the Maiden Fear?

  • The Maiden fears having to make decisions for herself. She’ll bother everyone around her until someone makes a decision for her. She doesn’t want to fend for herself if she doesn’t have to. She believes there’s power in making others do things for you.
  • She doesn’t want others to pass her by and grow up without her. She needs people to play with.
  • Her greatest fear is being trapped in a nine-to-five job or a controlling relationship with a man. She needs her space and freedom. Her spirit is fragile.
  • People think she’s naïve, and she fears being attacked. She’s not totally immune to the world around her; she tries to enjoy life in spite of it.

What Motivates the Maiden?

  • Safety and security is what motivates the Maiden. She needs to know that there’s someone there to catch her if she falls. Whether she has faced the harshness in life or not, or if she is rich or poor, she knows she needs someone to support her free lifestyle.
  • If she ever faces a traumatic situation her need for security and protection will grow.
  • Freedom to be herself is the most valued thing in her life. She has to express herself and her desires, but at the same time she has to please others enough so they don’t write her out of the will, so to speak.
  • She enjoys being different, special, talked about. She loves to do outrageous things.

How Do Other Characters See the Maiden?

  • Women see her as young, inexperienced and aloof. Men see her as sexy and childlike, a woman they can control and rescue. She seems to attract dominating men.
  • A lot of men say they’re attracted to her innocence and want to take care of her, but they can become overprotective and bossy. They just like her because she makes them feel young.
  • She wears girlish clothing sometimes, and alluring and sexy clothing other times.

Developing the Character Arc

Look at your character’s main goal in the story and then at the fears you’ve selected to use against her. What can she learn to help her overcome her fear?  Does she need to learn how to take care of herself?  Does she need to find her spiritual side?  Does she need to transcend her desire to be around people and at parties all the time?

Very often the Maiden needs to be forced to stand on her own two feet. She needs to support herself and make commitments.  She needs to gain faith in her abilities and see strengths in her character.  She needs to be aware of the harshness of life and take off her rose-colored glasses.

She can be a very strong person who give openly to others, guiding them through pain and hardships. She needs to see this gift she has within herself.  She is very innocent and pure at heart if she’ll only turn her gaze inward and see herself for who she really is.

What happened to her at an early age to make this archetype dominate her personality? Was she spoiled?  Did her parents hide all problems and pain from her?  Did an older sibling do everything for her?  Did she have a learning disorder and was treated as special?

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

  • The Woman’s Man – can show her the strength that lies inside her and can help her understand and accept her sensitivities and spiritual gifts.
  • The Warlock – would abduct her in some way, waking her up and taking her out of the protected little world she has made for herself.
  • The Amazon – would teach her how to care for herself and to be strong. She can show her how to accept her own power and sensitivity as a positive thing. She can also drag her out of her protected world.
  • The Overcontrolling Mother – can be so overbearing and controlling that she pushes the Maiden out of the house where she then learns to fend for herself.

The Villainous Side of the Maiden: The Troubled Teen

As a villain, the Maiden is the out-of-control teen obsessed with fun, parties, drugs, sex – everything in excess. Grades and rules don’t matter because she doesn’t care about the future.

She may commit a crime not understanding the consequences of her actions. She may be talked into sex to please a boy and get pregnant because of her ignorance of birth control.  When these things happen she expects her parents or family members to pitch in and help her.  In her eyes they better be there to pay for lawyers, watch the baby or whatever else she needs.  She’s never taken responsibility for her actions before, and she won’t start taking them now.

She’s passive/aggressive, saying she’ll take control of her life but doing everything but. When family members and friends aren’t there for her she’ll do whatever it takes to get them to help her, even attempt suicide to get their attention.  Everyone else’s life must stop to deal with her antics.  Anyone who cares about her will never get a decent night’s sleep.  Jaded, depressed and disillusioned with the world, the Troubled Teen often ends up in front of a judge, the courts forced to set her straight.  Most of the time childhood abuse is what fuels her anger.

She has a pattern of irresponsible behavior that lacks morals and ethics. She shows a lack of responsibility for herself and uses superficial charm to manipulate others.

She is self-centered when it comes to her problems. “No one else matters but me” is her mantra.  She believes she’s special and above the law.  She feels entitled to be around others she views as unique and special.  She can be arrogant and lacks empathy towards others.  She often fantasizes about how successful she’ll become because she deserves it.

She feels like no one told her this world was so horrible and she didn’t ask to be born. She wishes everyone would just leave her alone.  She believes it’s her body and she’ll do whatever she wants with it.  She doesn’t have time to worry about tomorrow because it may never come.  When she dies she wants to look back on life full of friends and fun.

THE TROUBLED TEEN

  • Hates rules and all types of authority. She’s anti-establishment.
  • Is depressed, angry and selfish.
  • Steals and fights.
  • Has a death wish and takes a lot of risks.
  • Is vulnerable to cults and resistance groups.
  • Uses superficial charm to manipulate others.
  • Is loyal to fellow criminals.
  • Likes to hurt her family because they hurt her.
  • Can’t love or care for other living things.
  • Has buried her true self.
  • Feels entitled and special, above the law.
  • Fantasizes about her own future success.
  • Is irresponsible.

The Maiden

Assets:

  • Loves to play and go to parties.
  • Is close to her mother or otherwise distraught if she isn’t.
  • Switches friends and interests often; she loves variety.
  • Doesn’t have plans for her future beyond Saturday night.
  • Seems very innocent and gentle.
  • Can be a wonderful listener.
  • Can help people through trauma.
  • Can be sensitive and psychic.

Flaws:

    • Depends on someone else for her survival and freedom.
    • Needs attention and loves the spotlight.
    • Has trouble committing to one relationship.
    • May not understand the consequences of her actions.
    • Walks around with rose-colored glasses as if nothing will happen to her.
  • Keeps her opinions to herself to please others.

 

 

PERSEPHONE IN ACTION

Maiden/Troubled Teen TV Heroes

Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) in Vampire Buffy the Slayer

Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy

Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano) in Charmed

Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) in Friends

Maiden/Troubled Teen Film Heroes

Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) in Clueless

Mary Jensen Matthews (Cameron Diaz) in There’s Something About Mary

Louise Dickenson (Geena Davis) in Thelma & Louise

Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) in Pulp Fiction

Sandra Dee (Olivia Newton-John) in Grease

Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang) in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Maiden/Troubled Teen Literary and Historical Heroes

Antigone

Guinevere in Arthurian Legend

Little Red Riding Hood

Princess in Sleeping Beauty

Alice in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Dolores “Lolita” Haze in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Margaret in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Ophelia in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Emma in Emma by Jane Austen

Daisy Miller in Daisy Miller by Henry James

Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Beloved in Beloved by Toni Morrison

Tess in Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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