A Mythological Criticism of Tarzan of the Apes Viewed as a Hero Archetype.
Let me first start off by breaking this down and explaining what my idea of an archetype is. To have an archetype you must have something with an obvious out of the ordinary quality that underlies that object or person. In most cases there is more than one quality that seems to occur more often than once and sometimes frequently. Authors generally use symbolism and/or imagery in various forms to bring out a full impact of the events brought on and the lessons to be learned from an archetype.
Heroes always have a strict set of guidelines that I will touch on briefly. The most basic and well known of these traits is appearance. The heroes in our stories frequently have a firm and well-sculpted figure, tall starchier, and will always appear to be overwhelmingly appealing, par say, which the author will describe in a vivid detail. Traits that are often overlooked include a mysterious past and lack of one or both parents. Little is ever known about a hero's history, and due to the lack of parents there will usually be a parenting figure that can be good or evil. Lastly, a hero will have a quest or adventure that they must endure in order to achieve their ultimate goal, which in many cases, but not all, is to save the damsel in distress. This is only scratching the surface for heroism; however, it is enough to let you see where I base my opinions. A hero or heroin will fall under every one of these frequently and of course Tarzan is of no exception.
Moving on, Tarzan is a man that was raised in the jungle entirely with the aid or threat of wild animals. He clashes with Tercoz, which to me is symbolic for civilization verses organized rule (Anarchy seems like sort of a stretch). This story has what it takes to carry an archetypical plot.
Burroughs could not refrain from creating the character, Tarzan, as a hero and ignore any of these aspects.