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The Hero's Quest

A look at Joseph Campbell's Hero's Quest for middle school readers.

Georgia Beckas

on 10 February 2014

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Transcript of The Hero's Quest

Hero's Quest
Birth and Background
Call to Adventure
Crossing the Threshold
Amulet/ Special Weapon
Descent into "Hell"
Climax/ Final Battle
Atonement with Father
Return/ Reward
A hero's birth will always have an unusual aspect to it. Many heroes are born to royalty, are unknowingly parented by powerful people or gods, or are in danger at birth. Either way, they are marked by these circumstances as different and destined for greatness.
An event takes place that begins an adventure for the hero. Sometimes it is traumatic and other times, it is a surprise feat that the hero performs, pulling him into the adventure. Either way, the adventure begins!
The hero must leave his familiar life behind to begin a journey from childhood to adulthood and to a life-transformation. Oftentimes, he is faced with creatures and an environment that is quite unlike any he has experienced in his simple, safe life.
You can't be a hero without a cool weapon, right? It's true. In most hero stories, the hero has a special weapon, often one that only he can use. Sometimes, the hero may also have a “special weapon” inside of himself that he comes to know better as the story progresses.
Heroes always seem to receive some sort of supernatural help, whether it be from a god, a wizard, or a spirit. Often the inexperienced hero finds that he cannot proceed without supernatural aid, in the form of a "wise and helpful guide" who provides advice and amulets to further the quest. This teacher may not be with the hero throughout, but his teachings carry with the hero on his journey.
Midway through the hero's journey comes a long and perilous path of trials, tests, and ordeals that bring important moments of illumination and understanding. Again and again along the way, monsters must be slain and barriers must be passed. These adventures also help to build the confidence and pride of the hero. They also serve to strengthen and develop the hero and prepare them for the end of their quest, which will take much strength and cunning.
Oftentimes throughout his journey, the hero must sacrifice what he wants (including his life) for the benefit of others or the quest.
The hero experiences many things on this quest, among which is a descent into a kind of "hell." In this hell he experiences a low point in his life that leaves him scarred forever with a real or psychological wound that will not heal. The hero learns from this descent into "hell" much about himself and usually matures greatly from the experience.
This is the critical moment in the hero's journey in which there is often a final battle with the most important monster, wizard, or warrior, which leads to the resolution of the adventure.
Atonement means to offer payment for a wrongdoing. Oftentimes, heroes must avenge a father’s death or make up for the father’s evil. In some cases, the road of the journey leads to a reunion of father and son after a long, painful absence.
After the hero's journey is over, the hero is rewarded spiritually in some way. Typically, he receives a hero’s welcome and a ritual may take place to symbolize and celebrate the accomplishment of his quest. Sometimes, after death, the hero achieves bliss, often in a place with other heroes, like The Fields of Elysium from Greek mythology.
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