The Shapeshifter is probably the hardest of the archetypes to explain. Remember that I am paraphrasing the book and there is a lot of information I'm leaving out. To better understand the explanations I've given thus far, you might want to read the book on your own. Vogler's The Writer's Journey can be found in most bookstores and online book retailers.
Highlights for Children offers a class on the process. Their classes are a bit pricey but well worth the money if you can afford it. They also offer scholarships for some classes, especially the Foundations Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. I attended the week long workshop in 2004 and thoroughly enjoyed it in addition to learning a lot and meeting wonderful people.
Back to Shapeshifter. These characters change mood, appearance, and are difficult for the Hero and audience to "pin down". They may take the Hero in a wrong direction and keep her guessing. Their loyalty and sincerity is in question. A good example is the mood changes a woman faces during pregnancy. So, the Shapeshifter projects the hidden opposite sides of ourselves.
Their dramatic function is to bring doubt and suspense into the story. In a romance novel, he causes the Hero to ask, "Is he faithful; will he betray me; does he truly love me; is he an ally or enemy." The Shapeshifter's change of appearance may be as small as style in hair or clothing. Heros must sometimes face Shapeshifters either male or female, who assume disguises and tell lies to confuse them.
(My italics button won't allow what I'm trying to do, so I'll put titles in quotations)
In "An Officer and a Gentleman" the Hero, Richard Gere, puts on airs and tells lies to attract a woman. In "Sister Act", Whoopi Goldberg disguises herself as a nun to keep from being killed. "Villians or their allies may wear the Shapeshifter mask to seduce or confuse the Hero." Look at the wicked witch in "Snow White" who becomes an old woman and tricks the Hero into eating an apple.
Shapeshifters are "found most often in male-female relationships, but may also be useful in other situations to portray characters whose appearance or behavior changes to meet the needs of the story."
In children's writing, I find it hard to discover the Shapeshifters. However, I'll keep reading in my search for this particular character. If you discover one, let us know. I am hoping all this becomes more clear further in the reading of "The Writer's Journey."
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