A (Not-So-)Common Classic: The Archetype(s) of the Tomato

Tomato plant

There is a question that has been pondered for (not quite) eons: which is the tomato, a fruit, a vegetable, both, or something else? Well, we all know tomatoes are oddballs. (That was a bit of a pun. They are rotund and spherical—hence the “balls.”) They’re like those kids from middle school that you can’t quite classify as anything. They don’t fit into any of the classic archetypes or stereotypes we all knew too well. However, this article is about something a bit different than what kind of organism the tomato is: this is about finding the archetype(s) of the plant. But to classify it by archetype, an important piece of information that is quite necessary is, well, exactly what it is.

It all depends on who you are, the situation, and/or why you need this bit of information that determines the tomato’s type. If you wish to know if it is a “true” fruit or “true” vegetable, we should start with defining both fruits and vegetables. A “true” fruit is formed in the base of the plant’s flower in the ovary. It also contains the seeds of the plant. A “true” vegetable is any other part of the plant, such as the roots, leaves and stems (i.e., potatoes, carrots). But where does the tomato fall? Legally, as ruled by the Supreme Court, a tomato (Nix v. Hedden, 1893) is a vegetable. But tomatoes are, however, formed in the ovary in the base of the flower, and they contain the plant’s seeds. Therefore, they are, technically, botanically, scientifically, and, if I may be biased, truthfully fruits. But what are they in the culinary sense? Why, because of their uses in savory (they use vegetables for these) rather than sweet meals (for which fruits are used), they are considered vegetables in the kitchen. (Bean pods are another example of something chefs and cooks tend to misnomer. Bean pods are fruits, but are considered vegetables by them. Rhubarb, a vegetable, is considered a fruit in the kitchen because it is used in sweet cooking.)

With all these different points of view on the state of being of the tomato, we now face a dilemma: which is to be agreed with? The legal standard? The culinary standard? Or, possibly, the tried and true scientific standard? This not being an objective writing, I shall go with my opinion: the scientific standard. If something is trapped between two other somethings between which there is something of a rigid dichotomy, then wouldn’t one classify it as one classifies all other things? If this particular classification is to be accurate, then shouldn’t it follow the same rules?

Now that we know (or at least I believe I know) what a tomato is (a fruit), we can move on. We are not yet ready to determine its archetype yet, however, because we must consider all of its properties. What are the  properties of tomatoes?

There are physical and chemical properties of the tomato. The physical properties include the tomato’s coloring. Tomatoes are bright red. The color red is associated with energy, danger, strength, power, determination, passion, desire, and love, therefore tomatoes may be associated with those things also. Red is emotionally intense in itself—it increases the respiration rate, raises blood pressure, and on a slightly different note, it enhances human metabolism. Red is certainly a color with very high visibility, so that’s why things that people need to see or are wanted to see are painted in red. In heraldry, red indicates courage. The color is often used to evoke erotic feelings. Ergo, tomatoes are exciting, courageous, passionate, sexual, and dangerous. Tomatoes also have a balanced sweet and sour flavor. That can be personified into someone who isn’t overly nice (even though tomatoes have a very high sugar content) but isn’t a totally rude, mean person.

There are, as mentioned previously, chemical properties of the tomato. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as Vitamins A and C, which eliminate free radicals from the body (which can cause illnesses via cellular damage), remove pollutants from the body, prevent dementias and diseases, protects eyesight, and more. Some of the antioxidants in tomatoes are lycopene and glutathione, which do things like prevent cancer and reduce cholesterol, amongst many others. They treat hypertension and fluid retention. They help heal wounds. This shows that tomato is good for you; it is helpful and caring.

Now that we know what the tomato is like, we can determine its archetype. The archetypes considered here are the 12 common archetypes, of which there are 3 categories: the Ego types, the Soul types, and the Self types. The Ego types are the Innocent, the Orphan, the Hero, and the Caregiver. The Innocent just wants to be happy, is naïve and, well, innocent, and just wants to do things right. The tomato is most certainly not innocent because of its passionate ambition, excitingness, sexuality, and dangerousness. The Orphan is just your average person that wants to blend in, to belong. They are realists, empathetic, with a lack of pretense. That sounds a bit like our tomato. However, the Orphan may lose his/her/itself in trying to blend in, but we know our passionate little fruit wouldn’t do that. These dangerous, emphatic, beautiful creatures like to stand out, but not be different in the ways of some. The Hero is one that wishes to prove one’s worth through courageous acts. The tomato is courageous, but it doesn’t need to prove itself. Tomatoes are confident. The last archetype of the Ego types is the Caregiver, who desires to help and protect others. Does that sound like a dangerous fruit to you? Of course not, tomatoes are not Caregivers, even though they can be helpful and caring. The tomato seems to not have an Ego archetype, but is most similar to the Orphan and the Hero.

The archetypes in the Soul category are the Explorer, the Rebel, the Lover, and the Creator. The Explorers love journey, seeking out new and exciting things; however, with their need to sometimes aimlessly wander, they can turn into misfits. The tomato does not aimlessly wander and is most certainly not a misfit, but otherwise, this archetype very nearly perfectly describes it. The next type, the Rebel, believes rules are made to be broken. The Rebel wishes to overthrow whatever doesn’t work. They tend to be dangerous, and to turn over to the “dark side” and be criminals. The only similarity between tomatoes and Rebels is their dangerous quality, so tomatoes are not really Rebels. The next archetype, the Lover, just desires to be in relationships with people and to do what they love and be where they love. They are passionate, like the tomato. They desire intimacy. Tomatoes, being sexual and passionate, can also fall into the Soul archetype of the Lover. The last type in this category is the Creator. Creators want to create culture and things of enduring value. They are artistic and creative. Tomatoes, being red, are not creative, because red does not stimulate any sort of creativity; if anything, red does the exact opposite. Therefore, tomatoes are Explorers and Lovers.

The archetypes for the Self type are the Jester, the Sage, the Magician, and the Ruler. The first type, the Jester, loves to play, joke, have fun, and live life to the fullest. They tend to be frivolous and to waste time. This is not our dear tomato, for our tomato isn’t the biggest fun-haver. The second type, the Sage, is a bit of a researcher, whose main goal is to find the truth. Sages believe the truth will set you free. They tend to have wisdom and intelligence, but tomatoes aren’t particularly wise or smart. The next type, the Magician, likes to make dreams come true. The Magician wants to understand the fundamental laws of the universe. This is not like the tomato at all. The final archetype, the Ruler, is a responsible person and a good leader. He, she, or it can also be controlling. Tomatoes aren’t like this at all. Tomatoes aren’t really anything like any of the self types. But if it had to be one, tomatoes would be Jesters, the fun-havers.

In conclusion, tomatoes, with their passion, dangerousness, sexuality, courageousness, and excitingness are of the Soul archetypes Explorers and Lovers.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s