Epics start in the middle – they often used flashbacks or a prologue • Characters have long monologues • The hero takes a journey to the underworld, either symbolically or literally • They have epic similes, also called Homeric similes • An extended simile that often runs through several lines, used typically in epic poetry to intensify the heroic stature of the subject and to serve as decoration Traits of an Epic
Unusual birth • Leaves home and family • An event, sometimes traumatic, leads to an adventure or quest • Hero has a special weapon he wields/uses • He always has supernatural help • The hero must prove himself many times while on an adventure • Hero goes on a journey • The hero experiences atonement (asks for forgiveness) • When the hero dies, he is rewarded spiritually Traits of an Epic Hero
The Ordinary World • Heroes live in a world that is considered ordinary or uneventful. This allows us to connect with the characters. Often, the heroes are considered odd in the ordinary world and have some ability or characteristic that makes them feel out of place. • Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz • Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit • Simba at Pride Rock in The Lion King The Stages of the Hero’s Journey (Attributed to Joseph Campbell)
The Call to Adventure • This sets the story rolling by disrupting the comfort of the Hero’s Ordinary World, presenting a challenge or quest that has to be undertaken. It throws the Ordinary World off balance. • Usually there is a discovery, event, or danger that starts them on the path – find a mystic object or discover their world is in danger. • The tornado in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz • Gandalf in The Hobbit
Refusal of the Quest/Call • A hero refuses the journey because of fears and insecurities that have surfaced from the Call to Adventure. • It communicates the risks involved in the journey that lies ahead. • The hero may refuse, but eventually the stakes will be so high that the hero must accept the call. • Simba refuses to return to Pride Rock and accept his destiny in The Lion King
Meeting the Mentor/Supernatural Aid • The hero meets a mentor to gain confidence, insight, advice, training, or magical gifts to overcome the initial fears and face the threshold of the adventure. • Mentor provides the essential lessons and training needed to face the journey’s tests or ordeals. • May be a physical person or an object such as a map, logbook, or hieroglyphics
Crossing the Threshold/Entering the Unknown • This signifies that the hero has finally committed to the journey. • The hero much confront an event that forces him to commit to entering the Special World, from which there is no turning back. • The hero must learn the rules of the world. • Dorothy must learn the rules of Oz in The Wizard of Oz • Neo must come to grips with the realities and unrealities of the Matrix in The Matrix
Tests, Allies, Enemies – Supernatural Aid • Our first look at the Special World and how its conditions and inhabitants contrast with the hero’s ordinary world. • The hero must find out who can be trusted • Preparing for greater tests to come • A character who has mastered the laws of the outside world helps the hero • Gandalf • Every hero needs a helper • SamwiseGamgee • Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow, Cowardly lion • Often heroes have special and often magical items that assist them on their quest • Ruby Slippers • The Ring
Approach to the Inmost Cave • The hero must make the preparations needed to get to the Central Ordeal • Maps reviewed, attacks planned, reconnaissance launched, or enemy’s forces whittled down • He may need to take a break before facing the Ordeal • Reorganize the depleted ranks, remember the dead and wounded, and rekindle the morale with a hero or mentor’s rally cry
The Ordeal • This is the obstacle the hero has journeyed so far to overcome – faces his greatest fear, confronts the most difficult challenge, and experiences “death” • Once this obstacle is overcome, the tension will be relieved – the worst is past • Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings • Defeating the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz
The Reward • After the Ordeal, the hero has earned the right to celebrate • Replenishes energy; gives the audience a moment to “catch its breath” • Hero is rewarded • Magical sword, elixir, greater knowledge or insight, reconciliation with a lover, a kingdom, hand of a princess, Holy Grail, etc.
The Road Back • A hero has to accept the Road Back – it may be difficult for the hero to return because of the successes in the other world • There must be an event that pushes the hero back to the ordinary world • May be an external or internal decision
The Resurrection • The most dangerous meeting with death • The final life-and-death Ordeal – shows that the hero can apply all that he has learned in the Ordinary World • May be a physical Ordeal or a final showdown between the Hero and Shadow • Battle for the entire world or other lives • Hero must prove he has achieved Heroic Status and accept his sacrifice for the benefit of the world • Hero may have help, but he ultimately must win
Master of the Two Worlds/Return with the Elixir • The final reward • The hero returns with an elixir to share or use to heal a wounded land – an object or ability that allows them to save their land • The end of the journey • Heroes have grown in spirit and strength
Archetypes describe the function or role a character plays in a story – kind of like a mask a character wears in a particular scene • Think: • What is the character’s function on the Journey? • What is the character’s goal? • What action should the character take to achieve that goal? Archetypes
Heroes: Central figures in stories. • To serve and sacrifice • Shadows: Villains, enemies, or maybe the enemy within • To destroy • Mentors: The hero’s guide or guiding principles • To guide • Herald: The one who brings the Call to Adventure • To warn and challenge Common Archetypes
Threshold Guardians: The forces that stand in the way at important turning points • To test • Shapeshifters: Creatures like vampires or werewolves who change shape – represents change • To question and deceive • Tricksters: Clowns and mischief makers • Allies: Characters who help the hero throughout the quest • Woman as Temptress: Sometimes a female character offers danger to a hero (femme fatale) More Archetypes
You have been shipwrecked on an island. You meet a god/goddess who falls in love with you and wants you to stay with him/her forever. In return, he/she will make you immortal. However, all you really want to do is get home and be with your family. What would you choose? Why? What would you do?
Your husband/wife went off to war with a group of people, many of whom returned ten years later. Years go by, and your husband/wife still hasn’t returned. A group of men/women, who all assume your husband/wife must be dead, start courting you and have proposed. You can’t support yourself and your son on your own, but you haven’t given up hope that your spouse is still alive. What do you do? What would you do?
You are a young adult who lives with his/her mother. Your father has been presumed dead. A large group of men have come courting for your mother, who doesn’t want to believe her husband is dead. Since she refuses to pick one of them, they stay at your house, eating you out of house and home. They are loud and rude to you. You want to get rid of them, but there is only one of you and dozens of them. What can you do? What would you do?