The Castaway Archetype in Two Tales of an Island Year


  • Matthew Fike



C. G. Jung, Lucy Irvine, Gerald Kingsland, Castaway, The Islander, archetype, archaic man, marriage, desert island, individuation, sexual life


The castaway archetype is examined in Lucy Irvine’s Castaway and Gerald Kingsland’s The Islander—dual accounts of a year spent on Tuin Island in the Torres Strait north of Australia. The castaway archetype adds a survivalist theme to C. G. Jung’s interest in living simply and close to nature—as he did at Bollingen—and intersects with his ideas in the essay “Archaic Man.” In general, castaways’ exposure to extreme isolation, survival conditions, and perils both physical and psychological activates an inheritance from ancient humans. However, contrasting markedly with Jung’s positive ideal in “Marriage as a Psychological Relationship,” Irvine and Kingsland live at cross-purposes because they constellate incompatible archetypes, which results in what Anthony Stevens calls the “frustration of archetypal intent.” Kingsland enacts the husband, but Irvine enacts the castaway; he loves her erotically, but her passion is for the island. Although projection, compensation, and enantiodromia complicate matters, the experience proves psychologically instructive for both, though the lessons are hard won.