Across cultures and throughout time, tales and legends from around the world show us a clear set of universal character types, or archetypes. These characters are so universal that the psychologist Carl Jung developed his theory of personality around them. Among Jung’s archetypes you will find such regulars as The Innocent, The Warrior, The Lover, and The Outlaw. For Jung, these characters represent the basic themes of human experience, and so, they connect directly to our own emotions.

Of these archetypes, there is none that inspires our curiosity and amusement more than The Trickster. Many old and established native cultures have legendary characters whose role in story is to always know the secret that the rest of us don’t. Trickster is the joker, the raven, the confidence man. Creative, clever, quick to think and act, and never living in fear of the consequences. The Trickster makes us laugh when he fools others. His promiscuous behavior embarrasses us, and we are fascinated with the confidence and comfort with which he deceives others.

You know The Trickster well. He is Captain Jack Sparrow, Axel Foley, and Trapper John. Wile E. Coyote and Happy Gilmore. He plays “catch me if you can” with the authorities. He is the sympathetic miscreant with a sense of humor.

How much freedom would you have if you took on that role? Few of us do, as we believe we owe it to the larger society to remember our duties and remain the responsible character of Everyman, The Caregiver, or The Good Friend. It is The Trickster’s need for freedom, his penchant for boredom, and his willingness to step outside the bounds of proper behavior that attract our attention.

Listen as Abby tells this at-least-partly-true tale of Henry Tufts, a real-life Trickster from Revolutionary War era America, whose escapades made him so notorious that he earned wide renown in his own time, and is still known to those carrying the Tufts name as the “black sheep” of the family.

Sources for this episode

Interesting reading on this topic:

Allie, D. (2017) The Online Henry Tufts Resource (blog). Retrieved December 7, 2017 from

New England Historical Society. (2016) The Many Loves of Henry Tufts. Retrieved December 7, 2017 from

Robinson, J.D. (2011) Henry Tufts Wrote First American Criminal Autobiography. Seacoast NH (blog). Retrieved December 7, 2017 from

Society in Dedham for Apprehending Horse Thieves. Retrieved December 7, 2017 from

Tufts, T. (2012) Henry Tufts, Black Sheep of an Otherwise Respectable Family. Nutfield Genealogy (blog). Retrieved December 7, 2017 from 

Tufts, T. (2017) Tufts Family Genealogy (blog). Retrieved December 7, 2017 from

Vaver, A. (2009). Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part I. Early American Crime (blog). Retrieved December 7, 2017 from

Vaver, A. (2010). Early American Criminals: Henry Tuft in the Castle. Early American Crime (blog). Retrieved December 7, 2017.

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