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The Monomyth - Joseph Campbell
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The Monomyth - Joseph Campbell
American author, professor, and Orator Joseph Campbell was best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. After years of travel and research, Campbell identified a basic pattern present in many
found in different cultures from around the world known as the
Campbell describes some 17 stages or steps along the Hero's journey. It is important to remember that the Monomyth does not need to include ALL 17 stages and sometimes occurs in different orders. Other scholars have even classified only 12 stages in the hero's journey.
Though these stages can ALL be organized into three sections -
Initiation , Return
Description of 17 stages of the Hero's Journey
The Call to Adventure -
The call to adventure is the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.
Refusal of the Call
- Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it.
Supernatural Aid -
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.
Crossing the First Threshold -
This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world.
Belly of the Whale -
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person's lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.
Road of Trials -
The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation.
Meeting with the Goddess -
The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self unification does not have to be represented by a woman.
The Woman as Temptress -
This step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
Atonement with the Father -
The person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.
When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.
The Ultimate Boon -
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get.
Refusal of the Return -
Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.
The Magic Flight -
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
Rescue From Without -
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.
The Crossing of the Return Threshold -
The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.
Master of the Two Worlds -
This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
Freedom to Live -
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
Where can you see patterns of the hero's journey?
The hero's journey pattern can be found in myths, stories, and legends from a range of cultures and time periods. From ancient Greece to modern Hollywood and anywhere beyond or in between, the hero's journey is an important
(or basic original pattern) from which many stories have been derived. Ancient hero's journeys (such as The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer or the legends of King Arthur) were not composed with an awareness of the pattern. The hero's journey is largely the product of the scholarship of Joseph Campbell, who studied myths, stories, and religions from all over the world and explored the Linguistic, Structural and Psychological similarities between them.More modern hero's journeys (such as the Star Wars saga, The Matrix, The Lion King and many other movies) were created with an awareness of the pattern and have been criticized for following the pattern too closely.
George Lucas- Star Wars
The Hero pattern has been identified in Mythology, Literature, and Cinema throughout the ages. Although not all hero's are identical, many of their journey's follow a similar path are are structurally similar. After reading of various hero's in mythology and viewing modern hero's in Hollywood movies it is time to create your personal hero inspired by the work of Joseph Campbell. In a group with three or four other classmates, you are to create a modern day, ancient, or any fictional hero that demonstrates an understanding of the 17 stages of the hero's journey. As George Lucas said with Star Wars, you now have the opportunity to "tell an old myth in a new way."
Determine group members and assign individual and group roles for each requirement of the assignment.
Review and Discuss notes and the stages of the hero's journey as they relate to the literature and film studied in class.
- An original drawing/illustration of your hero (scanned)
- Written portion of myth (at least 1500 words)
- Voice recording of the written myth (Record on Computer and Upload, or
- 3-10 minute video that displays the majority of the myth and follows the pattern of the hero's journey
- Diagram that briefly displays and lists the 17 stages of your hero's journey
On the assigned due date you will upload the following items to your personal wikispace created for your hero and will present your hard work to the class.
Hero Project Group 1
Hero Project Group 2
Hero Project Group 3
Good Luck !
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