An Unlikely Hero: Reconsidering Michael Endeʼs Momo as a Divine Child
Keywords:divine child, alien child, Momo, archetype, children’s literature.
AbstractThe Divine Child was introduced by Carl Gustav Jung as an archetype closely linked to the process of individuation. Beyond the realm of analytical psychology, this peculiar child figure has been observed in myths and folklore and eventually evolved into a literary archetype known alternatively as das fremde Kind (the strange/alien child). Numerous child figures have since been regarded as representations of this archetype, with the titular character of Michael Ende’s novel Momo (1973) being one of them. While her initial appearance is evocative of the Divine Child, over the course of the story Momo has to accept her fate as the chosen one in a battle against a mysterious foe, ultimately finding herself in the role of the hero of the story. This paper examines the traits of both the archetype of the Divine Child, as well as that of the Hero – including a variation specific to child characters – with the goal of reconsidering if Momo is truly exemplary of the archetype of the Divine Child. This is done with particular regard to Christopher Vogler’s observation that literary archetypes are character functions, rather than fixed types, and as such this paper will discuss how Ende’s protagonist is ultimately an example of this fluidity of functions.
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