An archetype is something that is considered to be a perfect or
typical example of a particular kind of person or thing, because it has all
their most important characteristics (COBUILD Advanced English
Dictionary). In the scene in which Dory wakes from her
unconscious state after falling into the ‘undertow’ she has a flashback which
triggers certain memories, consequently Dory sets out to fulfill the task of
finding her parents.
‘The Hero’ archetype can be identified in Dory. While Dory may be a
simple character, by acting as the main character/hero of the story and setting
out to fulfill the task of reuniting with her long-lost parents, viewers can
infer specific ‘hero’ qualities in Dory. Not only does she fulfill her goal of
finding her parents, she also overcomes the challenges that face her as a result
of her disability- thus, truly demonstrating her hero qualities. She’s a
character that is well received by viewers who can easily sympathize with her,
which is why she can identify as a hero archetype.
By emphasizing the idea that someone with a disability can
accomplish and achieve their goals, the creators create the impression for
children that children with disabilities can be heroes too. The audience can
empathize with Dory as she represents a familiar image and idea of who a hero
should be. Ultimately a strong emotional influence is created and effectively
used by the creators. The use of this archetype is vitally important,
especially in stories targeted at younger children, as they can identify with
Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied or
hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some
common characteristics (Literary Devices). A metaphor can be identified in the scene in
which Hank and Dory are trapped in the Kids Zone in the Marine Life Institute
and need a way to escape the dangerous fish-grabbing children.
The song “Just Keep Swimming” that Dory sings in this scene is an
implicit comparison between literally moving forward- keep on swimming- and
that of keeping on trying in life or in the situation. In the scene Dory motivates Hank to keep
moving forward with her, while metaphorically she’s also implying not to give
up, even when the situation seems grim.
The creators obviously wanted to depict a positive form of
perseverance even in times of dismay. As mental illness is one of the main
moral elements of the story, not giving up and keep on trying despite
shortfalls, drawbacks and hard times, this metaphor is extremely relevant and
appropriate. The deeper message the creators are trying to convey is that we
should have a positive perception about events that happen throughout our lives,
as negative events can always have a positive side to them.
A story, in this case, in which the characters and events represent
specific qualities or ideas that relate to religious, moral, and political
aspects. (Cambridge Dictionary, n.d) In the
opening scene of the movie, in which Jenny and Charlie (Dory’s parents) are
seen teaching a young Dory how to make it and blend into the normal world, the
audience is introduced to Dory’s short-term memory mental illness.
Dory’s short-term memory loss acts as an allegory as it is an
element that recurs throughout the movie and ultimately represents the moral
idea relating to how people with disabilities are received by society and how
they still accomplish their goals. All
the challenges and hurdles Dory and company face revolve around her disability.
Dory’s short-term memory loss signifies a vehicle that represents
how society receives people with mental illnesses. As mentioned before, the
allegory emphasizes the main moral idea the film attempts to portray- that even
with a disability, perseverance and self-belief can help you achieve your
goals. The creators add great depth to characters that otherwise might’ve been
‘flat characters’ in an attempt to highlight an important moral idea that children
should be subtly introduced to at young ages.
Cultural intertextual clue; Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke
18:1-8) – Facing defeat and failure, Hank and Dory are trapped in the truck
heading to Cleveland. Hank is adamant that there is no possible way to escape,
however Dory believes there’s always another way- and in fact there is another
way to escape. (1:19:00)
The Parable of the Persistent Widow demonstrates how important it
is to persevere and never give up (Holy Bible, n.d). In this
scene Dory reflects the value and idea of perseverance that the parable
preaches. The parable is also identifiable in the metaphor regarding ‘Just Keep
Swimming’ mentioned earlier.
This parable preaches the very important understanding and message
of perseverance. Throughout Finding Dory, perseverance is a quality Dory
exhibits, it is this quality that keeps her going despite her mental illness
and any other obstacles in her way. The creators want to incorporate the
specific message of perseverance to their young viewers and illustrate to them its
importance in succeeding and achieving goals.
Cultural intertexual clue; Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke
15:11-32) – Dory follows a trail of shells laid out in the ocean close to where
the Marine Life Institute is situated. The shells lead Dory to a home where
Dory’s parents have settled in efforts to help Dory find her way home. In this
emotional scene Dory is reunited with her parents once again. (1:08:00)
This scene is comparable to the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke
15:11-32), in which the Prodigal Son was very warmly welcomed back home by his
father after leaving and squandering all the wealth his father gave to him (Holy Bible, n.d). Much like God is ready to
welcome the prodigals home, no matter what had happened to Dory, her parents
were extremely overjoyed to see her again and have her apart of the family once
This particular reference adds significant value and meaning to the
story. The creators might’ve intended for this reference to illustrate and
demonstrate the importance of acceptance and faith. Dory was welcomed home
without any regard to her circumstances. This emphasizes the fact that people
with disabilities mean something to someone and will always be accepted by
loved ones regardless of their disability. It also highlights the fact that
Dory’s parents never lost faith in Dory and her capability to, one day, find
her way home.
Cultural Intertextual clue; 2 Timothy 1:7 – Dory regains memory of
her parents and wants to set out on a journey to find them and return home.
Marlin however is fearful of the idea and attempts to prevent Dory from leaving
their current home in the reef. (0:14:00)
According to the biblical reference 2 Timothy 1:7; god intended for
us to have a spirit of power, love and self-control instead of fear (Holy Bible, n.d). In this scene, Marlin expresses
his fears of sea travelling (in light of his past experiences from Finding
Nemo), however Dory maintains her composure through self-control and helps
Marlin understand that finding her parents is something she must do and no
amount of fear will stand in the way of that. Also, Dory feels a sense of guilt
and sadness due to the affect her mental disability has on her relationships,
however she refuses to let this define her and attests to the biblical
reference of having a spirit of love and self-control.
This biblical reference attains one of the broad
messages the story and its creators are trying to communicate. While having a
disability comes with many fears, this specific reference maintains the idea of
overcoming these fears and what good that can bring. Viewers can learn from her
easy-going attitude and fearless approach to tough situations at hand.