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Joseph Campbell's Hero Journey

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Lisa Wilson

on 26 February 2018

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Transcript of Joseph Campbell's Hero Journey

The Hero with a thousand faces
1. The Hero is Introduced in his Ordinary World
8. The hero endures the supreme ordeal
12. Return with the elixir
The hero comes back to his ordinary world, but his adventure would be meaningless unless he brought something or some lesson from the special world.
Joseph Campbell's Hero Journey
"Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people's myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts - but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message. Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive. Myth tells you what the experience is." (from The Power of Myth)

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was born in 1904 in New York City. He was a reader of American Indian folklore as a child and revived his interest in the subject while working on a master's degree. Before attending Columbia University, he traveled in Europe.

In 1927 Campbell received his M.A. in English and comparative literature. He then returned to Europe for postgraduate study in Arthurian romances at the Universities of Paris and Munich. During his stay he discovered that many themes in Arthurian legend resembled the basic motifs in American Indian folklore. The idea inspired Campbell in his unending study of such authors Thomas Mann and James Joyce. He was also caught up in the theories of Carl Jung.

Background Info.
(Background information found at http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/campb.htm)

In 1985 he received the National Arts Club medal for honor for literature and was elected in 1987 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The popular PBS television program The Power of Myth was made in 1985 and 1986 mostly at the ranch of Campbell's friend, the film director George Lucas. Campbell's concept of the hero's journey was one of the sources for Star Wars film trilogy by Lucas. Campbell died at age of eighty-three on October 31, 1987, at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii, after a brief illness

Back in the United States Campbell retired for five years to Woodstock, New York, and Carmel, California, where he put together his guiding thesis that perceived myths as "the pictorial vocabulary of communication from the source zones of our energies to the rational consciousness." In 1934 Campbell began teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where he remained for thirty-eight years. In 1938 he married Jean Erdman, who founded a dance company and school of her own. From 1956 to 1973 Campbell was a visiting lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute.

Background Info Cont.

In his book, Campbell attempts to uncover the truth that resides in myth and religion and make it accessible to the reader. The myths and religions speak through symbols, which have an ancient meaning, a meaning that has existed as long as man has walked this earth. If interpreted literally, these symbols become at best speculative history, and therefore the grammar of the symbols has to be understood. Campbell uses Psychoanalysis as the tool to decode the ancient symbols. His objective is to interpret the ancient myths and let the parallels between them become apparent, as this would then reveal the basic uniform truths, by which man has lived. His hope is that the revelation of the basic truths that exist in all myths from various cultures would contribute to unification of the world.

Modern day examples of Campbell’s theories:

Refusal of the return
Magic fight
Crossing return threshold
Master of two worlds
Freedom to live

Road of trials
Meeting with the goddess
Woman as temptress
Ultimate boon

Call to adventure
Refusal of the call
Supernatural aid
Threshold crossing
Belly of the whale

Mythologist Joseph Campbell broke this pattern down into three basic stages (separation, initiation, and return), and then each stage into several sub-stages:

The general pattern of adventures that mythological heroes encounter during their quests.  It's a cyclical pattern inspired in part by the ancient ouroborus symbol (a snake eating its own tale) representing the cyclical pattern of nature, as well as the necessity of life living off other life.


Carl Jung

Campbell was a student of the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, and the ideas in “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” are often described as Jungian. The book is based on Jung’s idea of the “Archetypes” constantly repeating characters that occur in the dreams of all people and the myths of all cultures.
Jung believed that these archetypes are reflections of the human mind – which our minds divide themselves into these characters to play out the drama of our lives.

Carl Jung

2. The Call to Adventure
The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure
"You're a wizard, Harry"
3. The hero is reluctant at first.
He/she faces fear of the unknown.
4. The hero is encouraged by the wise old man or woman
5. The hero passes the first threshold
Platform 9 and 3/4
6. The hero encounters tests and helpers
7. The hero reaches the innermost cave
9. The hero seizes the sword
10. The Road Back
11. Resurrection
The hero emerges from the special world, transformed by his experience

The hero is not out of the woods yet. A chase scene ensues.
All together now
Disney References
Full transcript