What is the “Hero’s Journey”? Notes on The Pattern of Human Experience
The Hero’s Journey • We usually divide the Hero’s Journey into THREE BASIC CATEGORIES • Separation • Initiation and Transformation • The Return to the known world
Step One: “The Separation” • The Separation is divided into TWO steps: • “The Call,” where a hero is invited to undergo a journey, mission, or question • “The Threshold,” which contains guardians, helpers, and a mentor.
The Separation from the Known • What is the Call? • The call invites the hero into adventure • Offers him/her the opportunity to face the unknown • Allows him/her to gain something of spiritual value
The Separation from the Known • The Response to the Call . . . • The Hero may choose willingly to undertake a quest. • The Hero may be a “Reluctant Hero,” one who would prefer not to undergo the trouble of a journey. • The Call may come boldly as a “Transformative Crisis,” a sudden, often traumatic change in his or her life. • The Call may be only a vague feeling of discontentment; a longing for “more”
Consider the Call for these Epic Hero’s . . . • Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz • Discontentment in Kansas . . . Desires something “over the rainbow” • Luke Skywalker in Starwars • Discontentment . . . Until traumatic experience (Death of Aunt and Uncle) • Odysseus or Telemakhos inThe Odyssey • Odysseus chooses willingly . . . Honor • Telemakhos is reluctant to act; must first undergo his own Odyssey • Moses in The Bible (a “reluctant” hero) • “If you please Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently. . . I am slow of speech and tongue” • “If you please, Lord, send someone else”
The Separation from the Known • STEP 2: “The Threshold” • Once called to adventure, The Threshold is the “jumping off point” of the adventure • The “barrier” between the known and unknown worlds • Guarded by “Threshold Guardians,” who protect us from taking journeys we are not ready for
The Separation • What is the Threshold? • At the Threshold, the Hero encounters a Helper, Guardian, or Mentor, who provides assistance and protection • The Helper often brings a “divine gift,” known as a talisman, which aids the hero
The “Guardians” of Epic Heroes Dorothy: Gilda, the Beautiful Witch of the West Luke Skywalker: Ben Kinobe or Yoda James Bond: His gadget guru Odysseus and Telemakhos Athena, Hermes, Leukothea Moses God The “Talisman” of Epic Heroes --Dorothy The Ruby Slippers Luke Skywalker The Light Saber James Bond His high-tech cars. . . . Odysseus and Telemakhos Eloquence, Re-assurance, Disguises, Beauty, Potions, “immoral veil” Moses Staff (“take this staff in your hand; with it you are to perform the signs”) The Separation from the Known
The Initiation • Step Three: The Challenges • Once past the threshold, we journey into the “unknown” • Hero Faces “Temptations” and “Challenges” • Great Threat comes from “Tempters,” who attempts to convince the hero to end the Journey • Luke Skywalker: Darth Vader, “Come to the Dark Side” • Christ’s “temptation” by Satan . . . . . To give up his journey • Temptations almost always reflect Hero’s greatest fears or needs • Odysseus: Tempted by comfort and dangerous beauty
The Initiation Step four: What is the Abyss? The Abyss represents the great challenge on the journey. The Abyss is where the hero must “slay the dragon,” which often represents their greatest fear. Luke Skywalker: Challenging and killing Darth Vader Dorothy: Throwing Water on the Wicked Witch of the East Odysseus: Journey to the Underworld Christ: The Crucifixion
The Initiation • Steps 5: “Transformation and Revelation”? • As the hero conquers the Abyss, he or she is “transformed” or “changed” • The Hero is literally a new person • Transformation is a symbol for “re-birth” (Dying and Living again); “Resurrection” • Christ and Odysseus are obvious examples of this • Dorothy’s revelation that “there’s no place like home” (story is a circle), just like Odysseus . . .
The Initiation • Step 6: What is “Atonement”? • After Transformation, the hero becomes “at-one” with new self • There is Harmony between Self and World (no more “discontentment” • Think of Wizard of Oz: each character realizes they already possess what they sought • Odysseus “purifies” his hall of sin, the suitors • Christ’s resurrection established “Harmony” or “Reconciles” sinners with God • Telemakhos is recognized as “Odysseus’s one True son”
Final Category: The Return • Step 8: What is The Return? • Upon his or her return, the hero realizes their gift . . . (leadership, new levels of awareness, spiritual enlightenment) • Dorothy’s realization that “there is no place like home”
The Return • Some Heroes return to create a great nation or city • Some Heroes return to Rejection • Often Enlightened Heroes are Killed because of their gift or level of Enlightenment • Socrates (forced to drink Hemlock for corrupting the minds of the young) • Christ • Martin Luther King Jr. • John Lennon (if you consider him a Hero)
Final Thoughts • Why are we not all “heroes”? • We reject our Call • We reject true mentors and their gifts, embrace Tempters • Reject our gifts (talents, educational opportunities, wisdoms) • Embrace “what everyone else” is doing • Heroes must be “unique” • We give in to Temptation • Delays or Ends our journey to Enlightenment • Laziness, greed, envy, materialism, selfishness, fear, dishonesty
Assignment: • Write TWO paragraphs • Discuss two heroes (examples may come from history, literature, film, or personal experience). • Explain their separation • Explain their initiation and transformation • Explain their return to the known
Assignment • Topic Sentences for each paragraph: • “Jem Finch, from Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, depicts each of the basic attributes of the an epic hero, a separation from the known world, an initiation and transformation, and a return.” • “Not only does Jem Finch, a character from literature, depict the characteristics of an epic hero, so does Neo, a character from the film The Matrix.
Assignment Paragraph Examples: • The Separation (Atticus kills Tim Johnson, changing Jem’s perception that Atticus is incapable of bravery) • Initiation and Transformation • Ms. Dubose’s cruel ranting and Jem’s punishment of reading to her • Jem’s retrieval of his pants from the Radley gate • Return • Jem’s decision to become a lawyer like his father