Archetypal Criticism In John Cheever's The Swimmer

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Archetypal literary criticism revolves around human consciousness, and typically expresses important lessons in life, and the utter emotion, passion, and turmoil which promotes feeling, and is what makes humans, humans.
Set on a midsummer Sunday afternoon, the “The Swimmer”, by John Cheever, follows the journey of Neddy Merrill, who decides to get home by swimming across numerous pools in Bullet Park, the suburban neighborhood where he and his family reside. Neddy contributed the name of this route “Lucinda” after his wife (Cheever 2). Neddy’s journey home starts off positively as he “find[s] friends along the way” (Cheever 2) through socializing along the way, but around halfway through his route, the situation alters: Neddy begins to feel
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The story begins on a “midsummer day”, which is the thought to be the season of romance and freedom (Rudd), and Cheever compares Neddy Merrill “to a summer’s day” (Cheever 1), suggesting his youthfulness and heroism; however, within the same journey, Neddy experiences a speedy transition from summer to autumn. This shift occurs alongside his physical exertion and mental instability, which unearths the archetypal genre being the seasons, specifically the decline and tragedy that is involved with autumn…show more content…
“The Swimmer” follows the mental and physical devolving of Neddy Merrill, who as the season changed from summertime romance to autumn tragedy, he changed from youthful and vibrant to old and secluded.
Neddy Merrill tries to be better than he is, and is confident that he can swim all the way home because he thinks he’s “legendary”, but in reality, he suffers great loss because he had no awareness and ultimately lost his financial and social status, along with his family.
Neddy’s abandoned house symbolizes his loneliness and lack of awareness. Probably the biggest archetypal image in the story, is the water image of the swimming pool, which stands as a time manipulator and trap of sorts that depletes one of their energy. Cheever utilizes heavy archetypal images, especially color symbolism, like the changing colors illustrating the changing seasons, which also stand as a metaphor for Neddy’s
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