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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Hero's Journey

Thought I'd share the notes I prepared for InConJunction this weekend!

Joseph's Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' structure as revised by Chris Vogler in his "The Writer's Journey: Mythich Structure for Writers" 2nd Edition.

I think all writers use this struture on an instinctual level because it is so universal.

Not all these events will occur in every hero's journey. And the steps don't always appear in their exact order.

Act 1
The scene is set and the hero sets out.
1. Ordinary World
The story starts in the ordinary world where the hero is going about everyday existence, oblivious of the adventures to come. This anchors the hero as a human, just like you and me, and hence we can associate our selves with the hero.
2. Call to Adventure
The hero is next presented with a wrong done, a problem or challenge which she feels she must resolve. Thus the king calls for someone to save the realm from a marauding enemy, a private detective has a client bring in a difficult case or an attractive other person is spotted in a bar. Thus the challenge is set, to defeat the enemy, solve the murder or win the heart of the other person.
3. Refusal of the Call
The hero may well balk at the thought of the task ahead, perhaps refusing the challenge or has second thoughts. The problem seems too much to handle and the comfort of home seems more attractive than the rough wilderness or dangerous streets.
This would be our own response and we thus bond further with the reluctant hero.
4. Meeting the Mentor
The mentor appears to help the hero prepare for the road ahead. Thus Gandalf, Obi-wan Kenobi and a host of other wise and experienced people teach the hero the skills she needs and gives her critical knowledge to help her survive.
5. Crossing the Threshold
Eventually the hero is ready to act and crosses the threshold, often literally as she leaves the family homestead on their journey into the unknown.
Act 2
The main action happens as the hero survives the road and achieves her goal.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
Once out in the big wide world, the hero is confronted with an ever more difficult series of challenges that she may face, ranging from minor skirmishes and struggles against weather and terrain to riddles and various setbacks that would defeat a lesser person.
In this way the hero's character is both highlighted and developed. Now bonded to the hero, we feel a vicarious sense of pleasure as these challenges are met.
7. Approaching the Inmost Cave
At last the final destination lays ahead and the hero, battered but wiser from her trials along the way must prepare for the ultimate test. In ancient legend, a typical 'innermost cave' is the land of the dead or a labyrinth. It is the lair of the dread enemy where no help may be found and only deep courage will win through. Another threshold must be crossed here to enter the dragons' den of the innermost cave.
We swallow hard, as does the hero, at the thought of what might go wrong. To approach the innermost cave is to face death and still go on. This pause helps show the hero as still human and helps build the story tension before the high point of the story.
8. The Crisis / Supreme Ordeal
At last the hero must face her deepest fears, typically in battle with the dark villain. This is the ultimate test that the hero takes, where the real story perhaps is the inner battle whereby the hero overcomes her own demons in facing up to the enemy outside.
As observers, we feel scared for the hero and may be terrified that she might fail or die. In so doing we also face and, with the hero, overcome our own inner fears.
9. Seizing the Reward
In defeating the enemy, the hero is transformed into a new state where fears are vanquished and the new fearless person is born. The reward in the story may be gaining new knowledge, a treasure or rescuing a princess, but the inner reward is in the personal growth that is achieved.
Act 3
10. The Road Back
After the story has reached its main peak the transformed hero sets out home again. Having gained the treasure she has no need for more adventure and nothing left to prove and so sets out back home again.
The return home is a reverse echo of crossing the threshold when setting out on the adventure. In contrast to the earlier anticipation of danger, the anticipation now is of acclaim and rest.
11. The Climax / Resurrection
The story has one last trick up its sleeve now, having lulled its audience into a false sense of security, as one last challenge faces the hero. Perhaps the villain was not completely vanquished or perhaps there are other people in need on the way back -- whichever way, we are again plunged into another climactic event, just when we thought it was safe to breath easy again.
In ancient stories, the hero has to be purified before return. After the toil of the journey and the ordeal, they are formally reborn into a new and beautiful form.
12. Return with the Elixir
Finally, the hero returns to the hero's welcome, gives the treasure to the proper recipient and receives her just reward, whether it is the hand of the princess, the acclaim of the people or simply a well-deserved rest.
In this final part, all tensions are resolved and all unanswered questions answered, leaving the reader of the story satisfied and replete.

Common Archetypes in the Hero’s Journey

1) HERO: represent’s the ego’s search for identity and wholeness. The hero must sacrifice for the betterment of her society. The hero must transcend the boundaries of the ego and incorporate all aspects of her personality into the SELF.
2) MENTOR (wise old man or woman): usually a positive figure who aids or trains the hero. The mentor may teach, give gifts, or act as the higher moral conscience of the hero.
3) THRESHOLD GUARDIANS: represent obstacles that the hero must overcome as they cross into new worlds. They are menacing, but they can be bypassed or overcome by the worthy hero.
4) HERALD: a force that brings a challenge to the hero. A herald will issue a challenge and announce the coming of significant change. This challenge or announcement shifts the hero’s balance, and forces her to make a life changing decision.
5) SHAPESHIFTER: an elusive archetype, often of the opposite sex, who constantly changes from the hero’s point of view. They may mislead the hero, and their loyalty or sincerity is constantly in question. Shapeshifters may often appear in disguise or masks.
6) SHADOW: represents the dark side; the unexpressed, unrealized, or rejected aspects of something. Shadows are the things humans do not want to admit about themselves (stored in the unconscious). The Shadow is often projected onto a villain, antagonist, or enemy of the hero.
7) Trickster: embodies the energy of mischief and the desire for change. Clowns and comical sidekicks often represent this archetype.

I found a good worksheet on this website:
Need to scroll down for the link.