A hero s journey
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A Hero’s Journey. Flexible framework of a heroic tale. The Ordinary World. “Fish Out of Water” idea: take the hero out of the ordinary world and into a Special World, new and unfamiliar Story will show Ordinary World first to contrast with the strange new world hero is about to enter.

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A hero s journey

A Hero’s Journey

Flexible framework of a heroic tale

The ordinary world
The Ordinary World

  • “Fish Out of Water” idea: take the hero out of the ordinary world and into a Special World, new and unfamiliar

  • Story will show Ordinary World first to contrast with the strange new world hero is about to enter

Call to adventure
Call to Adventure

  • Hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure to undertake

  • Now, the hero can no longer remain in the comfort of the Ordinary World

  • Call to Adventure establishes the hero’s goal, such as:

    • Win treasure

    • Win lover

    • Get revenge

    • Right a wrong

    • Achieve a dream

    • Confront a challenge

    • Change a life

Refusal of the call
Refusal of the Call

  • Hero fears the adventure and has not fully committed to the journey

  • May be thinking of turning back—expressing reluctance

  • Some other influence is required to get hero past this turning point of fear

    • Change in circumstances

    • Further offences against natural order

    • Encouragement of a Mentor

Meeting the mentor
Meeting the Mentor

  • Story will introduce a Mentor

  • Function of the Mentor is to prepare the hero to face the unknown

  • May give advice, guidance, or magical equipment

  • However, Mentor can only go so far with the hero

  • Sometimes has to nudge the hero to get the adventure going

Crossing the threshold
Crossing the Threshold

  • Hero finally commits to the adventure and enters the Special World by crossing the first threshold

  • Agrees to face consequences of dealing with the problem or challenge posed in the Call to Adventure

  • Moment when the story takes off

Tests allies and enemies
Tests, Allies, and Enemies

  • Encounters Tests and makes Allies and Enemies along the road of adventure

  • Begins to learn the rules of the Special World

  • Character develops – watch the hero and his companions react under stress of the adventure


  • Hero comes to the edge of a dangerous place or “Inmost Cave”

    • Often where the object of the quest is hidden

    • Headquarters of the hero’s greatest enemy

    • The most dangerous spot in the Special World

  • Pause to prepare a plan for entering the Dangerous Place

    • Prepares to confront death or supreme danger

Ordeal death rebirth
Ordeal, Death, & Rebirth

  • Hero hits bottom in direct confrontation with his greatest fear

  • Faces possibility of death and comes close in a battle with a hostile force

  • Audience held in suspense, not knowing if he will live or die

  • Critical moment: hero must die or appear to die so that he/she can be born again

  • Major source of the magic of the heroic myth

  • Every story needs a life-or-death moment in which the hero or his goals are in moral jeopardy

Reward seizing the sword
Reward “Seizing the Sword”

  • Hero has survived the danger

  • Hero takes possession of Reward

    • Special weapon or token

    • A knowledge and experience that leads to greater understanding and resolution with hostile forces

The road back
The Road Back

  • Hero is not out of the woods yet!

  • Hero begins to deal with the consequences of confronting the dangers of the Supreme Ordeal

  • The Hostile Force (parent, god, enemy, etc.) may come raging after the hero

    • Chase scene!

  • Marks the decision to return to the Ordinary World

  • Hero realizes Special World must be left behind and there are still dangers, temptations, and tests ahead


  • Hero must be reborn and cleansed in one last Ordeal of death and Resurrection before returning to Ordinary World

  • Often a second life-and-death moment

  • “Final exam” for the hero

    • Tested one more time to see if he/she has really learned the lessons of the Supreme Ordeal

  • Reborn as a new being and is able to return to the ordinary life

Return with elixir
Return with Elixir

  • Returns to the Ordinary World

  • Brings back some Elixir – Treasure or lesson from the Special World

    • Useful knowledge or experience

    • Treasure won on the quest

    • Love, freedom, or wisdom

    • Knowledge that the Special World exists