Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Archetypal Story Pattern: Rags to Riches

Matthew asked me to outline the pattern of the Rags to Riches story.

Here's what I told him:

Ultimately, here's the bottom line: Cinderella, Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Oliver, Annie, Alladin, etc. are all examples of Rags to Riches tales.

The story pattern goes:
Down and out person (usually an orphan in a terrible/scary/humiliating situation) pines for love/family/a place in the world. Usually says a prayer or makes a wish... (which symbolizes the tapping into one's higher self)

Finds a benevolent helper (fairy godmother, eager college professor, Artful Dodger, Genie in a lamp) who gives them a chance to prove themselves. The benevolent helper symbolizes the higher self. In real life, our higher self rcognizes the benevolent helper and acts on this recognition. (Because, essentially, the Rags to Riches story is saying: Youve always had the power to get to Oz. It's says: The power of the genie is in the wishes (not the lamp). To me, this pattern is an allegory for the relationship between self and the Universe

They do prove themselves, beyond anyone's wildest dreams, sometimes teaching the benevolent helper a profound lesson in the process (as in My Fair Lady)

Accessing their own true power/authority/beauty/goodness, they face a choice point: How shall I now use my newfound money/position/title/fame to help others?

When they make the right choice (which is: following their heart/guidance/god toward benevolence--essentially becoming a benevolent helper in someone else's story) they live happiliy ever after.

When they make the wrong choice (which is: selfishness, greed, cruelty) they end up poor again (as in the story of the Fisherman's Wife)

--- The point of this choice at the end is to emphasize that the power is the connection the hero has to God. In other words, the hero makes the wish or rubs the lamp (which focuses his intention/will/soul choice) but it is the universe that responds, rushing in to fulfill it. This story pattern beautifully renders the message that Abraham offers: You ask, the universe answers, you let it in. Keeping yourself moving downstream keeps it flowing. Putting yourself upstream (battling the curent) stops the flow. Reorienting yourself downstream, starts the flow up again... same idea as this pattern.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amy: Gorgeous and succinct description of the journey from rags-to-riches. I'd like to add that the pattern of choice at the end of the story gets repeated, and repeated, and repeated as the hero moves through life.

This idea has helped me along when things haven't felt easy: I've finally learned to remind myself in such moments that I always have the chance to make a new choice, turn my boat around, pick up the other end of the stick.