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Hero Quest

Understanding the hero's journey through literature
by

Darcia Jones

on 13 January 2016

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Transcript of Hero Quest

The Hero's
Journey

MONOMYTH 0r Archetype

Phase 3: Return
Phase 1: Departure OR
SEPARATION
Phase 2: Initiation
The word "hero" comes from a Greek root that means to protect and serve.
7. Road of trials
The hero is ultimately going to be faced with having to make an act of self-sacrifice.
Often, the "hero" is just a regular guy - or girl - who comes across as legitimately (sometimes painfully) human - he's admirable and likeable, but you can also see that he's got weaknesses, flaws and frailties that ultimately make him more interesting, more believable, and more human.
The hero also has inner conflict, the more the better:
love and duty, trust and suspicion, hope and despair
are at the very core of a hero's quest.
1. The ordinary world
Because most hero quest stories take place in a land foreign to the hero, the story generally opens in the ordinary world. This world is shown in order to provide a contrast with the ‘new’ world the hero will enter in his quest. The story opens with the hero living his regular life, a life he feels pretty "meh" about.
2.The call to adventure
The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or invitation to
adventure. As soon as he knows about this call, he can no longer be at ease in his ordinary life. Something about the "call" makes him uneasy.
Thanks to the "call", the hero’s goal is made clear: find the treasure, get revenge, right a wrong, confront an enemy, save the community, or achieve a lifelong dream.
3. Refusal of the
call
The hero is reluctant to take on the challenge and may start to think of denying the call to action. Often, advice or encouragment from someone or something is needed to help the hero embrace what lies ahead.
It is here where our hero recognizes "this is what I must do" but may not feel too happy about it.
4. Mentor
5.Crossing the
threshold
After an assessment of who are the enemies he faces and who's on his side, the hero commits to the adventure, agrees to face the consequences of the challenge, and enters the unknown or unfamiliar or dangerous world of the story and leaves behind whatever was comfortable and easy at home. The cost of failure is high, so there is tremendous pressure on the hero to be successful in his mission.
The hero begins to face the challenges of the new world. He or she meets new friends and enemies. Often the settings can be dark and dangerous and the hero’s determination to
complete the adventure is tested.
The hero comes to the edge of a dangerous place where the
object of the quest is hidden. When the place is entered, thehero crosses the second threshold. Often heroes pause at the gate to prepare and plan.
8. The supreme
ordeal
Sometimes also referred to as stepping "into the abyss". Here, the hero has to face his or her greatest fear, often alone. Here, the hero will give himself over entirely to the mission, knowing how much is at stake. He must finally face the thing he has avoided all these years, it is the thing he most dreads and needs to overcome.
9. Atonement and transformation
This represents the reason the hero's journey began in the first place. The hero finally finds the "treasure" and achieves his goal (often at the highest point of tension). All previous steps have prepared the hero to accept his transformation and to take responsibility for minding the "treasure", whether it is a physical object or not.
The hero must face the consequences of the battle with the
enemy. If there has been no reconciliation, the enemy may
return to chase the hero as he makes his way back to the
ordinary world.
From Joseph Campbell's work
on archetypes called "The Hero with
a Thousand Faces"
After an extensive analysis of mythologies across cultures and through the ages, Joseph Campbell identified commonalities and offered his version of the "monomyth" - a universal story of a hero's quest.
Archetype - an instinctive pattern in
the collective unconscious of humankind.
Archetype is defined as the original model
from which all other similar concepts, stories
or characters are merely copied, patterned
or emulated (www.wikipedia.com).
It is as much as a physical journey as it is an emotional
and spiritual one. It is truly a journey toward self-knowledge.

Not all hero quest stories will follow all the "steps" in the
archetypal pattern, but you will recognize the framework
as being evident in many of the stories - both old and new -
you know.
THE HERO
Sometimes, the hero can't act alone. He may require the inspiration of a mentor, the aid of the supernatural (in the form of a special object or item that, when used, will give the hero strength, power or some other invincibility), or a travel companion to help him in his
ultimate quest.
6. Belly of the whale
The moment where the hero enters the
danger zone, often accompanied
by the feeling that "there's no
going back now".
Our hero meets a series of challenges, each more difficult than the last.
He may have a "brother battle" in which he confronts the dark side of himself (oh, hello Psychoanalytical Lens!).
He may have a "dragon battle" where he literally fights against a superior and terrible force (usually, the bad guy).
The "road" is a metaphor for the hero's
journey into the new world where he will
either face death or be transformed as he
confronts the villain in the final showdown.
Atonement means attempting to right a wrong. At some point, the hero may stray from his path and then he inevitably crosses paths with a figure (often a father figure) whose presence reminds the hero that he has a sin to atone for or a responsibility to accept, so he has to get on with it, if he hasn't already gone through the Supreme Ordeal.

As a result of successfully meeting challenges and overcoming the Supreme Ordeal, the hero begins to see himself in a new light. The transformation takes the form of a discovery, revelation or insight about one's self, one's family, one's history or one's culture. The transformation includes a change in the hero's mind and how he views himself, others, or his life.
10. The ultimate boon
The return home is often quick,
usually because of some danger
or due to issues of time.
12. Rescue from without
Sometimes, even heroes need a little help. Thanks to something that slows him down or stands in his way, the hero requires rescue by
some outside force, often an unexpected source of assistance.

That the hero needs help too reminds us of his human-ness.
13. Crossing the return threshold
It's hard for the hero to return to his
homeland. Crossing back to the "ordinary
world" is difficult, the hero may be frustrated
when the old world can't accept his new views
on life. However, coming home means he is
safe and that he has mastered his internal self.
The hero has "grown" and changed and may now
seek to share those insights with others.
14. Freedom to live
Having conquered his innermost fears and various other "demons" along the way, the hero has earned our respect and the right to live as he pleases.
We admire him for his efforts to achieve his goal and
take inspiration from his journey.
11. The "magic" flight
Meeting with the goddess
Somwehere along the way, the hero may encounter
a woman who captures his heart. She is beautiful
(in the hero's eyes) and of tremendous importance
in helping the hero complete his quest. The
hero recognizes that his life has more meaning
and value with this woman in it - as his companion.
Woman as temptress
The hero may encounter the negative side of woman too. If so, the hero will be momentarily intrigued by the temptation and may even give into it, although that may jeopardize his entire mission. This encounter may serve as another of the challenges the hero must overcome in his quest to goodness.
As you might expect, anyone concerned with issues
of feminism or the feminist perspective has some real
trouble accepting the role of women in this monomyth.
That a hero may have to fight an "evil" woman in order
to truly reach his goal is one of their primary criticisms.
However, they object equally vehemently to the fact
that the other female portrayal is wholly good.
Some theorists have therefore proposed an alternate "heroine's quest" wherein a female protagonist undergoes a similar series of steps, although the journey tends to be much more internal than the male equivalent.
In my estimation, this seems an equally narrow and small minded portrayal, this notion that women are senistive, feeling, and internal beings whereas men are more apt to an external kind of adventure.
You will, no doubt, recognize this pattern.
Hollywood relies heavily on archetypes, especially
on the hero quest monomyth. Just check out what this guy has done to prove it.
After that, spend some time thinking - and writing - about the hero quest's prevalence in The Kite Runner...
Full transcript