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Zeel Patel
ENG4U
Ms. Taylor
24 July 2017
An Archetypal Analysis of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn't long

before I actually wasn't afraid. Cheryl Strayed. The well-known novel, Wild: From Lost to Found on

the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is an engaging read that talks the about the endeavoring journey

of a young woman after facing many hardships and overcoming her fears. Strayed sets journey on her

1100 miles trek on the Pacific Crest. Along the way, she faces many struggles and encounters many new

faces. While analyzing the novel Wild from an archetypal perspective, it is revealed that there are many

characters that portray archetypical qualities; Cheryl the unwilling hiking hero, Cheryls conscious as the

villain, and her fellow hikers as her mentors.

To start, Cheryl Strayed, the protagonist, and author of the novel portrays the common

archetype of the unwilling hero in her heros journey. After her mother was diagnosed with cancer her

world became a disaster. In the following month her mother passed away, she got a divorce, and she

obtained a drug addiction. This became the initiation of her heros journey. Strayed didnt even

remember the woman [she] was before [her] life split in two (Strayed 35). She completely lost herself

as a result of these traumatic events. To find herself again, she needed an adventure. The adventure

that came calling was the Pacific Crest Trail. However, Strayed was unwilling and hesitant to this trek.

She constantly asked herself: What have I gotten myself into? (Strayed 50) as she questioned her

capabilities as a hiker. These doubts caused many setbacks in her journey, making it difficult for her to

succeed. Thankfully, she met some fellow hikers along the way. These hikers provided her with the

guidance and support she needed to be successful. Once seen as a fragile, weak girl, she was now

transformed into a strong, influential role model. Strayed inspired many people as a lone woman hiking
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1100 miles of Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed taught readers how capable an independent woman can be,

and that they dont need a man to be successful. With all these struggles, she took on an adventure and

came back as the woman she knew she could be. She was a hero, even if she did not want to be.

Although Strayed is largely portrayed as the hero, her conscious plays a role as an archetypal

villain. Many obstacles obstructed her journey, one being her conscious. She constantly questioned her

capabilities. She was sure that she would hike the Pacific Crest Trail but just as quickly, she was unsure

again. She also worried about what people thought of her and compared herself to others. This further

inhibited her capabilities. For example, she worried of how slow and weak she was compared to her

fellow hikers. Her conscious prevented her from believing in herself and this would overall prevent her

success over the Pacific Crest Trail. This archetypal villain was as much as part of the heros journey

plot as was the hero. It was important that Strayed could overcome the villain, and that is exactly what

she did. As her journey progressed, she became a strong and fierce woman. She no longer feared what

others thought, she knew what she was capable of. Once she overcame her conscious, she was able to

focus on her true goal. This new focus allowed her to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail. In every heros

journey plot, the villain is defeated, and quite accurately, Wild followed the same plot structure.

Cheryl Strayed completed the journey, but many others are the reason it was possible. Many

hikers and other acquaintances Strayed met along her three-month journey can be seen as archetypal

helpers. Many people lent Strayed a kind hand, some offered motivation and guidance, some offered

food and shelters, while others offered her rides. One prominent helper she met in her journey was

Greg. Greg guided Strayed to Kennedy Meadows and motivation. When nobody believed in her, Greg

did. When Greg saw she was having trouble with the hike, he constantly said to her: Youre doing fine

CherylDont worry about it too muchNot just anyone could do what youre doing (Strayed). There

was also Albert. He lightened her pack so she would have an easier time carrying it on her hike. Strayed

received assistance from people she ran into while in town. For example, there was Susanna. This
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woman offered to massage Strayeds feet and provide her a sense of relief. Although Strayed was

hesitant at first, she was grateful for the kind gesture. Regardless of who helped, she was thankful they

did. These helpers motivated her to fight off her conscious and hesitations. Without encountering them

along the way, Strayeds journey would have been impossible

Wild has proved itself to be an emotionally, gripping memoir. Each of Strayeds words offered

insights and inspiration. Each character played a prominent role in an archetypal perspective to define

this memoirs true purpose. Cheryl Strayed played both the archetypal hero and villain while her fellow

hikers and friends acts acted as archetypal helpers. The way these characters were portrayed has taught

readers, no matter the gender, the strength of an independent woman.


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Works Cited

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,

2012. Print

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