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. Some say it’s older than the Pyramids…. And Stonehenge….
An Archetypal Story
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.
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
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.
The hero is invited to leave a mundane life and seek adventure.
to become a
to leave Kansas.
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.
The hero receives a gift to help on the journey.
The hero leaves the old world behind and enters the new.
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.
Luke, Han, and Leia trapped in the garbage compactor.
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.
During the “Initiation” phase, the hero learns how to live in the new world.
The hero learns that life in the world of adventure can be difficult.
A wise or magical woman gives guidance or advice to the hero.
The hero must confront and vanquish a malevolent being.
Someone or something tries to distract the hero from his goal. Circe the witch tries to keep Odysseus on her island.
The hero resolves his/her issues with a parent figure.
(from Greek roots meaning “from God”)
The hero recognizes his/her true identity - that spark of divinity within.
like my father
always had the
The hero succeeds in his/her mission.
Dorothy returns to Emerald City with the witch’s broom.
The hero succeeds in his mission.
Luke destroys the Death Star.
The hero wonders if it’s possible to return to the old life.
“How can I go back?”
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.)
The hero escapes with a little outside help.
Finally, the hero returns to “Kansas.”
The hero realizes that s/he can be at home in two worlds.
S/he is wiser and more confident.
Having faced evil - both from within and without - the hero is free from powerlessness and fear.
Like the inevitable chase scene in action films,
this monomyth contains some standard features.
And the Fantastic
A wise - almost omniscient - seer who guides the hero.
A legend or ancient prophecy that the hero is expected to fulfill.
The guy who didn’t make it.
In Memory of Biggs Darklighter
The hero must disguise himself as the enemy.
An archetypal friend or enemy with ambiguous or shifting loyalties.
The monomyth of the hero’s journey helps us answer the most profound questions of the universe.
… am I here?
…is there suffering?
…is the meaning of life?
from the Latin “profundus,” meaning “just before the bottom” or “at the edge of death.”
“A hero is someone who reaches the edge of death, steals a piece of magic, then brings the magic home to share with his community.” (Brennan)
is to make
the world a better place.
Brennan, Kristen. “Star Wars Origins.” 1999-2001. Jitterbug Fantasia. <http://www.jitterbug.com/ orgins/myth.html> 20 Sept. 2002.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. New York: Mythos Books, 1949.
Vogler, Christopher. “The Writer’s Journey.” 2002. Michael Weiss Productions. <http://www.mwp.com /pages/bookswritourmore.html> 20 Sept. 2002.
Teacher of English Longmont High School
St. Vrain Valley School District
Adapted and edited by Matthew Opal
Teacher of EnglishSilver Creek High SchoolSt. Vrain Valley School District
“What it Is”
Written & performed by Mark Knopfler
- Joseph Campbell