Page 141



after all, quite a proper shirt. In the women’s movement, educated professional women—motivated by books like Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s Women Who Run With the Wolves—try to recapture the lost instinctual wild woman within, while Robert Bly and others take men to the woods seeking their wild man. When Outlaw consciousness is present, people are more acutely aware of the ways civilization limits human expression. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic American novel, The Scarlet Letter, contrasts Puritan society with the freer life of the forest, which is linked with sexuality, vitality, sin, and, paradoxically, also transformational virtue. American novels and movies that offer critiques of the society often show how good people are forced to break the law in order to do the right thing. A well-known example of a classic novel that exemplifies just such a theme is Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and the theme appears as well in modern movies like Thelma and Louise, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Cider House Rules, in which groups feel so unprotected by society that they are forced to break the law to survive. Historical figures like Lenin or Malcolm X illustrate what happens in a society in which leaders of disempowered groups become alienated enough to be willing to espouse or practice violence. In an everyday way, celebrities like Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, and Madonna succeed because they break outdated rules in a manner that feels liberating to people. By acting in a sexually liberated, even promiscuous way while wearing a cross and the name of the Virgin, Madonna’s brand identity blatantly challenges the historical distinction between the virgin and the whore. Such a brand identity requires a capacity for risk. It can be wildly successful if the society is ready for its values to be challenged. It can also generate serious backlash, criticism, and shaming if society is not ready. In the Soviet Union, capitalist behavior was outlawed, yet circumstances necessitated participation in the black market (which was, of course, capitalist in the extreme). Over time, a nation of Outlaws was created, and it was only a matter of time until communism, at least in that form, collapsed. The threat of the Outlaw, however, is that an individual, quiet rebellion will break out in ways that begin to destroy the society, either eroding it from within or demolishing it in a violent eruption. The negative pole of the archetype is evidenced in characters like

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype