Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey

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In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell, a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College, unpacks his theory that all mythological narratives share the same basic structure. He refers to this structure as the “monomyth,” or hero’s journey. Campbell summarizes it like this:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”[a credit might look like: According to Campbell in Masterclass, ]

Campbell lays out 17 total stages of the hero’s journey structure. However, not all monomyths necessarily feature all stages, or in the same order that Campbell described.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced writers across literature, music, films, and video games. Perhaps most famously, George Lucas credited Campbell for influencing the structure of the Star Wars films. In the late ‘90s, Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood film producer and writer, created a seven-page memo titled A Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces, intended to help Hollywood writers wrap their heads around Campbell’s monomyth structure. The memo was later developed into a screenwriting textbook, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers (1992).

3 Basic Stages of the Hero’s Journey

The 17 steps of the monomyth are grouped into three main categories:

  1. Departure. In brief, the hero is living in the so-called “ordinary world” when he receives a call to adventure. Usually, the hero is unsure of following this call—known as the “refusal of the call”—but is then helped by a mentor figure, who gives him counsel and convinces him to follow the call.

  2. Initiation. In the initiation section, the hero enters the “special world,” where he must begin facing a series of tasks until he reaches the climax of the story—the main obstacle or enemy. Here, the hero must put into practice everything he has learned on his journey to overcome the obstacle. Campbell talks about the hero attaining some kind of prize for his troubles—this can be a physical token or “elixir”, or just good, old-fashioned wisdom. (Or both.)

  3.  Return. Feeling like he is ready to go back to his world, the hero must now leave. Once back in the ordinary world, he undergoes a personal metamorphosis in the realization of how his adventure has changed him as a person.      source: https://www.masterclass

To all 17 steps
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