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The12 Stages of the Hero's Journey
Transcript of The12 Stages of the Hero's Journey
• Due to his fear of the unknown, the hero is not fully committed to his journey and contemplates turning back.
• Some other influence - a change in circumstance, or even the meeting of another character - is usually required to get past this refusal.
1. The Ordinary World
2. The Call to Adventure
The 12 Stages of the Hero's Journey
4. The Meeting with the Mentor
3. The Refusal of the Call
5. Crossing the First Threshold
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
7. The Approach to the Innermost Cave
8. The Ordeal
10. The Road Back
11. The Resurrection
12. The Return with the Elixir
Most stories begin with the hero in the “Ordinary World.” This seemingly "normal" environment is introduced in order to show a contrast to the "Special World" that the hero will later enter.
Getting to know the hero in the Ordinary World helps create the "fish out of water" element when he or she is introduced to the strange new world later in his or her journey
Seeing the hero in his world allows us to connect with him immediately
9. The Reward
The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure to undertake. Once this call is received, he or she can no longer remain in the comfort of the ordinary world.
The Call to Adventure establishes the stakes of the game, and makes the hero’s goal clear: to win the treasure, to get revenge, to confront a challenge, to achieve a dream, to change a life...
• At some point, the hero will encounter another character who will become his or her mentor. The relationship formed between the two often represents that between parent and child, teacher and student, doctor and patient, or God and man.
• The mentor’s job is to prepare the hero for the unknown. He or she must give the hero advice, guidance, or equipment that will aid him or her.
• The mentor can only go so far with the hero, however. Sometimes, the mentor is required to give the hero a swift kick to get him or her going on his or her journey.
• When the hero finally commits to the adventure and accepts the challenge, he or she then Crosses the First Threshold into the Special World.
• This is when the hero faces the consequences of dealing with the challenge posed in the Call to Adventure. He or she finally decides to confront action, and is committed to the journey - there is no turning back after this point.
• The hero begins to learn the rules of the special world, and naturally encounters Tests, Allies, and Enemies during this period.
• This part of the journey allows for rich character development, as it becomes evident how the hero and his or her companions react under stress and certain situations.
• Eventually, the hero comes at last to the edge of a dangerous place where the object of the quest is hidden. This is the most trying place in the special world: the Innermost Cave.
• This place is the second threshold, and heroes often pause here to prepare, plan, and reflect.
• By entering the innermost cave, the hero confronts danger and even death.
• During the Ordeal, the hero must confront his or her greatest fear. The ordeal may be a supreme physical test or a deep inner crisis that the hero must now face in order to survive, protect an innocent, or save his world.
• In this moment, the audience is held in suspense, not knowing if the hero will live or die.
• Here he must use all his strengths (many of which he has discovered throughout his journey) in order to overcome this challenge. This is the peak of the hero's journey, where his destiny (often life or death) is decided.
• This is also the moment in which the hero or his or her goal(s) is in mortal jeopardy.
• After defeating his ultimate enemy, the hero emerges from the battle often with some reward.
• The Reward may be in the form of a treasure or a new love, but it also may be as simple as knowledge and experience that the hero has gained as a result of surviving the Ordeal.
• The Reward oftentimes holds the key to returning to the ordinary world.
• Once he has his reward, the hero realizes that the special world must now be left behind and accepts the decision to return to the Ordinary World. But the hero is not out of the woods yet.
• Dangers, temptations, and tests still lie ahead.
• The Road Back is where the hero must face the consequences of his actions during the Ordeal, facing the vengeful forces he has disturbed or sometimes forced to make new sacrifices.
• Many times, the hero must face one more extreme test before he or she can return to the Ordinary World. This is known as The Resurrection.
• This moment often relives the suspense and life-or-death situation seen in the Ordeal. It can sometimes be viewed as a final exam type of situation for the hero where he ultimately earns his status as a "hero."
• The hero returns home to the Ordinary World, but the journey is meaningless without the elixir, or Reward, from the special world.
• The hero is a changed man. He has fought many battles, learned many lessons, accepted his failings, and faced death. He returns with an "elixir," his supreme reward which represents his own transformation, the proof of his journey, and his ultimate success.
• The Elixir may be a physical object, but it may also be a lesson or knowledge learned during the quest - sometimes it is even just a story. The Elixir oftentimes has the power to heal those in the Ordinary World.
• Without the Elixir, the hero has not learned any sort of lesson, or gained anything from the journey, and is more than likely doomed to repeat the adventure again as a result.
A hero (or heroine) is the typical protagonist in a story and is often brave, daring, powerful in some way, and willing to save the day. The hero is the person with whom the audience is usually most connected, as he is often the kind of person we want to be.
The mentor is usually a positive figure who helps, trains, or protects the hero and gives him gifts. A mentor will often appear at key moments in the hero’s journey to help the hero briefly before disappearing again. He or she is often old and wise, though not always.
The Trickster is a clown, a mischief maker. In stories that are often filled with dramatic tension, the Trickster provides the comedic relief, usually by being witty, foolish, or sneaky.
The trickster can be an ally or friend of the hero, or may work for the villain. They remind us to expect the unexpected.
The Threshold Guardian
At each “doorway” to a new world the hero attempts to enter, there are powerful guardians placed at the threshold to stop the unworthy from entering. These Guardians may be neutral, or they may seem scary or threatening. Sometimes they may even be a follower of the shadow, but threshold guardians can usually be overcome, bypassed, or even turned into allies.
The shapeshifter is a character whose role in the story changes, sometimes multiple times. The shapeshifter's alliances and loyalty are uncertain, and he cannot always be trusted. He represents uncertainty and change and often introduces the theme that appearances can be deceiving.
The Ally is the character in whom the hero has put his trust and faith. He is often an old friend, the hero’s faithful sidekick, but many times, the hero will put his faith into someone he meets on the journey: the mentor, a threshold guardian, a trickster.
The Shadow represents the energy of the dark side. He is usually the story’s main antagonist, fighting against the hero. The presence of the Shadow creates the primary conflict in the story as it is the Shadow that the hero must ultimately face in order to receive the Reward.
The herald is the character (or sometimes a physical object) that brings a challenge to the hero. Before beginning his journey, the hero must first be called to an adventure, and the herald is the deliverer of that challenge. The herald is the one who pushes or triggers the hero into action.
When the hero sets out on his journey, he is most often on a quest to help, protect, or save another person or group of people. Because of circumstance or situation, the Helpless are unable to defend or protect themselves and require outside assistance.