From ArticleWorld

An archetype is the original model of a concept or idea which is then copied. It can also mean a prototype or, as in Jungian psychology, a pervasive idea which is inherited from the experience of the race.

In literature

In literature, many of Shakespeare’s characters can be considered archetypal, as they are exceptional in their originality. Characters such as Frankenstein and Dracula are also archetypal in that many horror stories have been influenced by them. The imitation of archetypes is called ‘pastiche’ a literary technique in which the copying is done in a light-hearted manner.

In Jungian psychology

Archetypes are also central to Jungian psychology. They are the thought processes inherited from the past experience of the race, what Jung called the past collective unconscious. These patterns of thought are found in the present in the individual unconscious and influence behaviour in ways that are not always obvious.

Examples of basic archetypes are the Anima and Animus, the feminine aspect of the masculine mind and the masculine side of the feminine mind, respectively. The Self, the conscious ego, and the Shadow, the unconscious, not always respectable, part of the mind, are two archetypes Jung considered basic to thought processes.