The Hero's Journey An Archetypal Story
Archetype: A pattern, such as a type of character or type of story, that is repeated in literature.
The hero’s journey is one of the oldest story archetypes on the planet.
And even cave drawings. (Vogler)
The components of the hero’s journey were identified and developed by Joseph Campbell, who was the world’s foremost authority on mythology.
In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell asserted that all storytelling follows the ancient patterns of myth, and …
…that all stories use elements of the Hero’s Journey. Campbell called this archetype a Monomyth.
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, consulted with Campbell while writing the scripts for the first Star Wars trilogy.
The function of the story is to entertain, to instruct, and to inspire. The hero’s journey is a metaphor for life itself.
Part I: Departure
1. The Call to Adventure The hero is invited to leave a mundane life and seek adventure.
Odysseus is called to fight the Trojan War
Pinocchio wants to become a real boy.
Dorothy wants to leave Kansas.
2. The Refusal of the Call The hero has second thoughts; adventure looks too risky.
Luke Skywalker doesn’t have time for the adventure - he has to help his Uncle Owen on the moisture farm.
3. Supernatural Aid The hero receives a gift to help on the journey.
4. Crossing the First Threshold The hero leaves the old world behind and enters the new.
5. The Belly of the Whale Like Jonah and Pinocchio, the hero experiences the “dark night of the soul” and must face his faults and the truth.
For some, the belly of the whale experience is a situation in which the hero feels trapped…
…or it is an internal quest in which the hero faces personal demons…
While on Yoda’s planet of Dagobah, Luke enters a whale-like cave and must face his own potential for evil, which is personified by Darth Vader.
The message is that we all have a shadow self and must deal with it at some point in our lives.
Part II Initiation
During the “Initiation” phase, the hero learns how to live in the new world.
1. The Road of Trials The hero learns that life in the world of adventure can be difficult.
2. Meeting with the Goddess A wise or magical woman gives guidance or advice to the hero.
3. Temptation Someone or something tries to distract the hero from his goal.
4. Atonement with the Father The hero resolves his/her issues with a parent figure.
5. Apotheosis (from Greek roots meaning “from God”) The hero recognizes his/her true identity - that spark of divinity within.
I am a Jedi, like my father before me!
But you’ve always had the power to go home!
6. The Ultimate Boon The hero succeeds in his/her mission. Dorothy returns to Emerald City with the witch’s broom.
Part III Return
1. Refusal of Return The hero wonders if it’s possible to return to the old life. “How can I go back?”
2. Magic Flight Upon deciding to return home, the hero must “flee” from yet another danger. (Here, “flight” refers to fleeing, not flying, though sometimes flying is involved.)
There’s no place like home.
3. Rescue from Without The hero escapes with a little outside help.
Deus Ex Machina Literally, God in the machine “Dodge this!”