East of Eden is often criticized as overly symbolic and melodramatic. However, such characterizations overlook Steinbeck’s latent innovations in characterization. Rather than developing stiff allegorical figures, Steinbeck makes creative use of Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, forming personalities that manifest psychological potentialities and transformations. In this essay, I trace the manifestations of Jungian theory across several characters in East of Eden, contrasting Steinbeck’s use of Jungian archetypes with traditional literary archetypes. Additionally, I outline how this artistic feature also displays Steinbeck’s opposition to the exclusivity of Freudian theory. If the characters and plot are viewed in the entirety of their complex Jungian influences and careful criticism of Freud, the novel is reinvigorated with creative energy that surpasses melodrama.