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The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey. Mythic structure in modern times. Joseph Campbell 1904-1988. Studied mythical stories across the world since the dawn of man and found they all had 12 common features

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The Hero’s Journey

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  1. The Hero’s Journey Mythic structure in modern times

  2. Joseph Campbell1904-1988 Studied mythical stories across the world since the dawn of man and found they all had 12 common features This has become known as the Hero’s Journey, and these features are at play in nearly every great story ever told from Odysseus to Harry Potter.

  3. What is a “Hero”? • Often a person with supernatural abilities or qualities in ancient literature • Ex: Odysseus, Buddha • In contemporary stories, this person can be ordinary– or at least not what we might consider “supernatural.” • Ex: Harry Potter, Simba, Dorothy

  4. Stage 1: The Ordinary World • This is the ordinary, mundane world our hero starts in. This is the world that Act I of your story will take place in. • Ex. Odysseus started in Ithica • Ex. Dorothy in Kansas • Ex. Simba started out at Pride Rock as a cub.

  5. Stage 2: Call to Adventure • The Hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure to undertake which forces him to leave his Ordinary World behind • Also called “The Inciting Incident”- what happens to make the rest of your story happen. • Establishes the stakes of the story- what there is to gain, the hero’s goal • Ex. Odysseus is called to fight for Sparta in the Trojan War. • Ex. Dorothy must find the Wizard of Oz to return home

  6. Stage 3: The Refusal of the Call • Initially, the hero feels reluctance to go on the journey. He or she fears the change that is coming. • Ex. Odysseus didn’t want to leave his newborn son and wife behind. • Eventually the hero will undertake the journey, either after encouragement or if circumstances change. • Ex. Athena encouraged Odysseus to go on the journey.

  7. Stage 4: Meeting the Mentor • A parental figure who prepares the hero for the unknown • Ex. Athena • Ex. Glenda the Good Witch • Ex. Rafiki • The Mentor provides an amulet to help the hero • Ex. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers • Ex. Luke’s lightsaber Gandalf the Grey is Frodo’s Mentor

  8. Stage 5: Crossing of the First Threshold • The Hero has overcome fear to fully commit to the journey. This is the point of no return. • This is the end of Act I of your movie. The hero has decided to act and will now be implementing that action. • Ex. Dorothy takes her first steps onto the Yellow Brick Road. • Ex. Odysseus begins his arduous journey home • Ex. Simba leaves Pride Rock.

  9. Stage 6: Tests, Allies, and Enemies • The hero learns the special rules of the new world. • Ex. Dorothy encounters Munchkins and witches. • Ex. Simba learns to eat bugs to survive. • The hero meets allies and enemies. • Ex. Odysseus finds an ally in the god of wind. He finds an enemy with the Cyclops • Ex. Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. She meets the Wicked witch of the West. • Ex. Simba meets Timon and Pumba. • The hero is tested. • Ex. Dorothy oils the Tin Man and gets the Scarecrow off the nail. • Ex. Odysseus escapes Polyphemus (the Cyclops)

  10. Stage 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave • The Hero is at the edge of a dangerous place where the object of his quest is hidden. • Ex. Odysseus must pass between the whirlpool and the monster to get home. • Ex. Dorothy gets kidnapped by the Wicked Witch and her friends must rescue her. • Ex. Luke’s ship gets sucked into the Death Star.

  11. Stage 8: The Supreme Ordeal • The Hero has hit rock bottom in direct confrontation with his greatest fear. • Faces the possibility of death. • Ex. Dorothy and all her friends are caught by the Witch. • Ex. All of Odysseus’s men die. Odysseus barely survives. • Ex. Simba confronts his father’s memory • The climactic moment of the story. The end of Act II.

  12. Stage 9: Reward – Seizing the Prize • The Hero has survived death and beaten his foe. He now claims his reward. Sometimes this is simply knowledge or experience. • Ex. Dorothy gets the Wicked Witch’s broomstick for the Wizard. • Ex. Simba accepts that he is the rightful king of Pride Rock and goes back to claim his throne. • Sometimes there is reconciliation with father figure or with a member of the opposite sex.

  13. Stage 10: The Road Back • The hero deals with the consequences of the supreme ordeal. • The hero makes his way back to his ordinary world, sometimes pursued by a parent or the gods if they haven’t resolved their conflict with him. • Ex. Odysseus finds his castle overrun with suitors for his wife. • Ex. Dorothy and the Wizard get ready to take their hot air balloon back to Kansas. • Ex. Simba heads home to find Pride Rock in ruins.

  14. Stage 11: Threshold Crossing - Resurrection • The hero is reborn, able to return to his or her ordinary life but with new insight. The hero’s final test. • Ex. Dorothy clicks her heels to return home, and wakes up in her bed. • Ex. Odysseus reveals himself to the suitors and kills them all. • Ex. Simba reveals to the pride that he is alive and kills Scar.

  15. Stage 12: Return with Elixir – “Freedom to Live” • The hero must have gained something from his journey otherwise he is doomed to repeat it. • This is sometimes treasure, sometimes a magic potion, and sometimes knowledge or experience. • Ex. Simba brings back his confidence in his ability to rule Pride Rock. • Ex. Dorothy brings back the knowledge that she is loved at home.

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