Archetypes are an integral part of human culture. We see them everywhere in movies, books and poems. We can recognize an archetype almost immediately and instantly identify with it. The mother, the orphan, the hero, the warrior, the femme fatale are just a few example.
The appendix of Caroline Myss' book Sacred Contracts (an interesting book on spirituality--but that's a different story) has an excellent analysis of both the positive and negative aspects of many archetypes. It makes very good reading for any writer or creative type.