Joseph Campbell's - Hero's Journey


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This presentation explains the structure of a hero's journey explained in Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, using examples from popular films.

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Joseph Campbell's - Hero's Journey

  1. 1. Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces Originally published in 1949 The definitive structure of a hero’s journey as can be seen in The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Star Wars, The Matrix, and other “hero” storylines
  2. 2. Part I: Departure • Home Culture: The protagonist must have a “home,” a place which he/she believes is normal and familiar. Nemo’s dad feels comfortable at home with him and is used to that environment.
  3. 3. Part I: Departure (Cont’d.) • Call to Adventure: Something happens which requires the protagonist to feel a restlessness with the constraints of his/her life or find a new place he/she did not know existed. Harry gets a letter from Hogwarts.
  4. 4. Part I: Departure (Cont’d.) • Refusal of the Call: The hero initially refuses to accept a new life/journey. Often another character will encourage this refusal. Bob (Mr. Incredible) cannot go back to his superhero life because Helen does not want him to and he doesn’t want to disappoint her.
  5. 5. Part I: Departure (Cont’d.) • Supernatural Aid: Protagonist is provided with some assistance from a supernatural or guiding character (or item). Merlin guides Arthur to help him accomplish his goals.
  6. 6. Part I: Departure (Cont’d.) • Crossing the First Threshold: Protagonist is confronted with an obstacle that he/she must overcome which begins the journey. When Uncle Ben dies, Peter must accept his journey as a hero.
  7. 7. Part I: Departure (Cont’d.) • The Belly of the Whale: Protagonist encounters a situation which he/she does not think he/she can overcome. Pinocchio is literally devoured by a whale and doesn’t think he will get out.
  8. 8. Part II: Initiation • Road of Trials: Protagonist is tested and learns about him/herself . Protagonist does not always have to face these trials alone. Harry Potter has to deal with many trials, including the deaths of friends.
  9. 9. Part II: Initiation (Cont’d.) • Meeting with the Goddess/Mother Figure: Protagonist meets with an ideal (in some modern movies, this figure is represented by a romantic soul mate). Pinocchio is visited by the Blue Fairy, who guides him as an ideal female figure.
  10. 10. Part II: Initiation (Cont’d.) • Atonement with the Father: Protagonist learns to deal with his/her role as a leader and/or hero and his/her new purpose in life. When Neo is able to rescue Morpheus, he must recognize that he is “The One.”
  11. 11. Part II: Initiation (Cont’d.) • Temptation from the True Path: Protagonist is tempted to depart from the purpose of his journey. Dorothy was tempted off the true path by the field of poppies.
  12. 12. Part II: Initiation (Cont’d.) • Apotheosis: Protagonist fully accepts his status as a hero and achieves a “god-like” status through his accomplishments. When Peter starts acting as a hero, he accepts his status as Spider-man.
  13. 13. Part II: Initiation (Cont’d.) • The Ultimate Boon: Protagonist can see the effects of his actions on both him/herself and others and is able to accomplish his/her final goal. This is often done in a “final battle” sequence. Dorothy melts the witch, which helps both her and others (and ultimately allows her to go home).
  14. 14. Part III: Return • Refusal of the Return: The hero’s journey should be over, but the protagonist is prevented in some way from returning home. This is often because the hero is isolated from others. Bruce could choose to get rid of his Batman alter ego to be with Rachel, but he doesn’t.
  15. 15. Part III: Return (Cont’d.) • The Chase/Magic Flight: The protagonist flees toward safety to take (or take back) treasure, power, or wisdom. Peter Pan takes Wendy, John, and Michael home on a truly magical flight on a pirate ship. You can take the same magic flight at Disney World!
  16. 16. Part III: Return (Cont’d.) • The Rescue from Without: Protagonist is unable to return home without the help of others/objects. Dorothy needs the ruby slippers in order to return home.
  17. 17. Part III: Return (Cont’d.) • Crossing the Return Threshold: Protagonist must face an evil force and overcome a final trial in order to prove him/herself and be accepted by those at home. Harry Potter must fight Voldemort in order for his world to return to normal.
  18. 18. Part III: Return (Cont’d.) • Master of Two Worlds: Protagonist finally has the power to feel comfortable and survive both in his/her home world and the outside world. The Incredibles are happy as superheroes or in their family life.
  19. 19. Part III: Return (Cont’d.) • Freedom to Live: Protagonist no longer fears change and looks forward to the future regardless of the circumstances. Arthur becomes king and looks forward to the future as king.
  20. 20. Common Mythical Elements • Two Worlds: The hero experiences life in two worlds, the “mundane” (home) world and the “special” (adventure) world. Life as Superman and as Clark Kent.
  21. 21. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • The Mentor: The character who helps the hero to understand the importance of his/her journey. Dumbledore helps Harry Potter understand his mission.
  22. 22. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • The Oracle: The character who tells the hero the future of his/her journey and/or warns the hero about something. The Oracle tells Neo that he has already made his choices, but he will have to grow to understand them.
  23. 23. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • The Prophecy: A promise is made about the hero’s future accomplishments (frequently the Oracle makes this prophecy). “One ring to rule them all…”
  24. 24. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • Failed Hero: Protagonist is confronted with a character who once failed at something he/she attempts. Perseus is confronted with the stone figures of those who tried to escape Medusa before he entered her lair.
  25. 25. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • Wearing Enemy’s Skin: Protagonist must disguise him/herself as someone acceptable to the enemy in order to accomplish his/her goal. Harry and Ron drink the polyjuice potion to pretend to be Crabbe and Goyle.
  26. 26. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • Shapeshifter: A character who initially appears to be both good and bad. The hero does not know whether he/she can trust this character. At first, Aladdin does not know whether to trust the Genie because he does not know if he has his best interests at heart.
  27. 27. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • Animal Familiar: A nonhuman character who aids the hero in his/her journey. Hercules’ animal familiar is Pegasus.
  28. 28. Common Mythical Elements (Cont’d.) • Chasing the Lone Animal into the Woods: This represents the time at which the hero chases something that appears magical or different. Usually the “animal” gets away but chasing it leads the hero to something new. Alice follows the white rabbit, who initially gets away (but leads her to Wonderland).
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