The Hero's Journey

by Malayna Dawn

Joseph Campbell's book The Hero with a Thousand Faces shows how the archetype of "The Hero" along the elements of his (or her) heroic journey, share many similarities in stories from all time periods and cultures.


Time Magazine named it one of the All-TIME 100 Best Nonfiction Books saying,

"Joseph Campbell's seminal work on the archetypal heroes and myths shared by world religions and traditions has focused countless artists and academics on our cultural commonalities rather than our differences.

Legend has it that George Lucas used Campbell's book as a foundation for his Star Wars trilogy . Harry Potter also closely hews to the classic hero's journey that Campbell drew from ancient allegories in dozens of cultures and codified into one rollicking human epic..."


In the book The Writer's Journey , by Christopher Vogler, he used The Hero's Journey as a guide to understand and improve the quality of film scripts. We'll share his examples with you below, along with some of our own.

Spiral Whirled Travels invites you to apply the phases of The Hero's Journey to your own life, too--because YOU are the hero of your own life's story!

ACT ONE - Departure & Separation

1 - Ordinary World

Daily life before the hero starts the adventure.

Examples: The black and white part of The Wizard of Oz , Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs at the Dursley's house, Luke Skywalker at the farm.

2 - The Call to Adventure

Call to Adventure by Burning Scroll Call to Adventure by Bullhorn Call to Adventure by Parchment, Map, Telescope and Rope

Presented with new information (by an archetypal "Herald") that reveals a challenge of some sort, they can't un-know it. Their perspective is forever altered.

Ex: Hagrid delivers Harry's letter from Hogwarts, Luke learns about his Jedi heritage, thieves bust into Lara Croft 's mansion, or the voice whispers "If you build it, they will come ."

3 - Refusal of the Call

Refusal of the Call to Adventure, man

The ordinary world may be boring, but it's comfortable. The fear of the unknown is holding our hero back, and it takes a change in the ordinary world, or persuasion from a mentor to move the hero forward.

Examples: Luke returns to the farm to find it obliterated, Gena Davis in A League of Their Own doesn't want to play pro baseball.

4 - Meeting the Mentor/ Supernatural Aid

Mentor or Supernatural Aid provided by a fairy Mentor or Supernatural Aid provided by a genie in a lamp

The Mentor is an archetype that provides the hero with inspiration, motivation, training and gifts. Why?

Because the hero needs a guide in this new and strange situation, and as the Buddhist proverb says, "When the student is ready, the master will appear."

Ex: Wise old men like Obi Wan, Dumbledore, Gandalf the Grey ; Glinda the Good Witch; Rocky 's boxing coach; The Chief or Bailey on Grey's Anatomy Aladdin 's genie; Fairy godmothers.

5 - The Crossing the First Threshold

Crossing the First Threshold Belly of the Whale by Eugene Ivanov Crossing to the Other Side

This is when our hero really commits to the adventure, or as Vogler puts it in The Writer's Journey,
"The balloon goes up, the ship sails, the romance begins, the plane or spaceship soars off, the wagon train gets rolling."
A subset of this step is Belly of the Whale -- a true and final cutting-off from the woorld the hero knows. She's in, with both feet, and can't do anything but go forward now and come out the other side.

Ex: Dorothy sets off on the yellow brick road, Axel Foley departs for Beverly Hills.

NEXT: ACT TWO



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