What Are Examples of a Temptress or a Siren Archetype in Movies or Stories?

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An easy example of the siren or temptress archetype can be found in Homer’s ancient epic, “The Odyssey,” in which there are literal sirens whose beauty and music lure sailors to their deaths. The siren archetype can be found in stories written centuries apart, and sirens usually appear as women whose beauty prevents the hero from achieving his goal.

One of the earliest examples of a temptress character appearing in a written story is Eve from the Bible. In the book of Genesis, Eve tempts Adam with the fruit that God forbade them to eat, making him break his promise to God. Like in many other ancient and classic stories with siren or temptress figures, when Adam gives in to her wishes, there are negative consequences. Although Eve herself is not repeated in a lot of stories, her role or archetype can be seen whenever someone attempts to lure the hero off of the righteous path. Two other Biblical examples include Salome and Mary Magdalene; Helen of Troy is another classic siren character from Greek literature.

In the last century, storytellers have continued to use the archetype, but some have altered how it is used, as in the case of the 1993 film, “Sirens,” in which the hero is led from the path of righteousness, but gains new insight. Similarly, in “Star Wars,” Luke Skywalker finds a message from the captured Princess Leia and is tempted away from his simple life in order to rescue her. Sometimes the siren archetype can be found not in a person but in an object or idea, such as the Ring of Power, which tempts Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings.”