archetype [ar-ki-typ], a symbol, theme, setting, or character-type that recurs in different times and places in myth, literature, folklore, dreams, and rituals so frequently or prominently as to suggest (to certain speculative psychologists and critics) that it embodies some essential element of 'universal' human experience. Examples offered by the advocates of myth criticism include such recurrent symbols as the rose, the serpent, and the sun; common themes like love, death, and conflict; mythical settings like the paradisal garden; stock characters like the femme fatale, the hero, and the magician; and some basic patterns of action and plot such as the quest, the descent to the underworld, or the feud.