I recently discovered a new (for me) archetype in literature: the incarnation figure. This may be something that has been around for ages, I have even seen it before without recognizing it, but recently I became aware of it.
Many people would simply call this a Christ figure since the Christ story begins with incarnation. God became human and entered our world as one of us, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven with him and changing how we understand the world, bringing power to change the world. However, your typical Christ figure dies as a sacrifice to save another or as an innocent dying in a punishment undeserved. Christ figures have their own beauty power and problems that I’ll discuss another time.
But incarnation, I love it. It’s something of wonder that I’d like to see more of. Now that I’m aware of It., I find it’s part of some of my favorite stories. I once read an article about “The Shawshank Redemption” which claimed that Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins’ character) was a Christ figure. It just didn’t fit for me. Now I can see him as an incarnation figure (and thus partially a Christ figure), which makes more sense. He was truly an innocent man in with the convicts, sharing his different way with them. So much of “The Matrix” is incarnational with Neo, Trinity and Morpheus entering a different world to try to change things. Even “Monsters, Inc.” was a tale of incarnation with Boo drastically and permanently changing the world of the monsters by being part of it.
What unveiled this archetype for me? Soulstic, the second novel in the Devouring teen horror series, written by Simon Holt. The truth is the incarnation side of things appeared in the first book, Sorry Night, I just didn’t know what I was experiencing yet. Reggie, the main character in has the ability to descend into the minds of those possessed by the Vours, evil demons that feed on the fear of humans. They trap the soul of the possessed in a landscape built of their worst fears. Reggie enters this fearscape and helps the soul find the means to overcome their fears, escape the possession and ultimately kill the Vour. A great image of what Jesus did by becoming human and showing us how to break free from sin.
Now that I’ve discovered the incarnation figure, I have my eyes open for it and seem to find it everywhere, like the movie “Where the Wild Things Are.” And I’m glad.