I'm going to follow Campbell's outline of Jung's theory as he lays it out in "Psyche and Symbol," the first lecture in the series, Mythos 1: the Shaping of Our Mythic Tradition. The last of the Archetypes that Campbell discusses is the Persona.
Here's what Campbell has to say:
The next element in our illustration of Jung’s schema is the persona/personae system. Persona is the Latin word for the mask worn by an actor. The personae are the outer selves, the set of masks we each wear, like some character in the Japanese Kabuki or a Eugene O’Neill play. They are the Völkergedanken, the folk ideas, the system of transformations with which we have to live. Each society has its distinctive wardrobe of personae. If we were living 250 years ago in an American Indian community, for example, we would have a totally different set of personae. It’s through the personae that we come into relationship with other human beings and with the world of nature, which is to say, the world of our own character.
Personae will differ from one society to another. In a traditional society—a supreme example of which is traditional India—you are meant to identify with the persona and live in terms of what is called the dharma, the system of duty that is put upon you. If you are a brahmin, for example, you are a priest-teacher. A kßatriya is a warrior, a vaisya is a merchant, and so on. You aren’t playing the role. You are that persona.
In our modern Western society, which has much greater respect for individuality, you are not the persona. You have to put on the role, take it off, and put it on again. The role is not part of you. Imagine the alternative. The Executive comes home in the evening and is met by the Executive's Wife. The Executive plays ball with the Executive’s Son for a little while, and then, later in the night, the Wife will have the privilege of going to bed with an Executive. A person like that, who identifies himself with his role, we call a “stuffed shirt.”
Joseph Campbell Foundation
publications at jcf dot org
(take out the spaces and replace the "at" with "@" and the "dot" with ".")
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