The Hero’s Journey Hero Myths

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The Hero’s Journey
Hero Myths

Hero Myths contain the goals and virtues of an entire nation or culture; they are conveyed through the quest and adventures of a legendary figure who is stronger, smarter, and more courageous than most other people.

  • With few exceptions, mythological heroes are usually male

  • Heroes often have an obscure, mysterious, or partially divine origin

  • Heroes are neither fools nor are they invincible

  • Heroes are called upon to make a journey or to follow a goal or quest

The hero’s way is not always direct or clear to him
The Hero’s Quest

The hero undertakes some long journey during which he must perform impossible tasks, battle with monsters, solve unanswerable riddles, and overcome insurmountable obstacles in order to save the kingdom, marry the princess, or regain what has been stolen or lost.

  • Many quest tales supply friends, servants, or disciples as company for the hero.

  • The hero has a guide or guides

What the hero seeks is usually no more than a symbol of what he

really finds
The Hero’s Initiation

The hero undergoes a series of excruciating ordeals in passing from ignorance and immaturity to social and spiritual adulthood, that is, achieving maturity and becoming a full-fledged member of his social group

  • The initiation consists of (1) separation, (2) transformation, and (3) return

  • The hero descends into darkness (literally and figuratively) and is not the same after re-emerging from that darkness


Fabulous circumstances surrounding conception, birth, and childhood establish the hero's background and often constitute their own myth.
Call to Adventure

The hero is called to adventure by some external event or messenger. The hero may accept the call willingly or reluctantly.

During the early stages of the journey, the hero will often receive aid from a protective figure. This supernatural helper can take a wide variety of forms, such as a wizard, and old man, a dwarf, a crone, or a fairy godmother. The helper commonly gives the hero a protective amulet or weapon for the journey.
Crossing the Threshold

Upon reaching the threshold of adventure, the hero must undergo some sort of ordeal in order to pass from the everyday world into the world of adventure. This trial may be as painless as entering a dark cave or as violent as being swallowed up by a whale. The important feature is the contrast between the familiar world of light and the dark, unknown world of adventure.

The hero travels through the dream-like world of adventure where he must undergo a series of tests. These trials are often violent encounters with monsters, sorcerers, warriors, or forces of nature. Each successful test further proves the hero's ability and advances the journey toward its climax.

The hero is often accompanied on the journey by a helper who assists in the series of tests and generally serves as a loyal companion. Alternately, the hero may encounter a supernatural helper in the world of adventure who fulfills this function.

Climax/Final Battle

This is the critical moment in the hero's journey in which there is often a final battle with a monster, wizard, or warrior which facilitates the particular resolution of the adventure.

After accomplishing the mission, the hero must return to the threshold of adventure and prepare for a return to the everyday world. If the hero has angered the opposing forces by stealing the elixir or killing a powerful monster, the return may take the form of a hasty flight. If the hero has been given the elixir freely, the flight may be a benign stage of the journey

The hero again crosses the threshold of adventure and returns to the everyday world of daylight. The return usually takes the form of an awakening, rebirth, resurrection, or a simple emergence from a cave or forest. Sometimes the hero is pulled out of the adventure world by a force from the daylight world.

The object, knowledge, or blessing that the hero acquired during the adventure is now put to use in the everyday world. Often it has a restorative or healing function, but it also serves to define the hero's role in the society.

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

- Joseph Campbell

- The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 30

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