The Hero’s Journey is a powerful narrative structure that has been utilized throughout history in countless stories and myths. Joseph Campbell, a renowned mythologist and writer, developed a framework known as the “Monomyth” to explain this journey in 12 distinct steps.
Step 1: The Ordinary World. The hero begins in a familiar and ordinary setting, unaware of their true potential.
Step 2: The Call to Adventure. A catalyst, often in the form of a significant event or an encounter with a mentor, pushes the hero to embark on a transformative journey.
Step 3: Refusal of the Call. The hero initially hesitates, resisting the challenges and changes that lie ahead.
Step 4: Meeting the Mentor. The hero encounters a wise figure who provides guidance, tools, or motivation.
Step 5: Crossing the Threshold. The hero ventures into the unknown, leaving behind their comfort zone.
Step 6: Tests, Allies, and Enemies. Along the journey, the hero faces trials, forges alliances, and encounters adversaries that shape their character and resolve.
Step 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave. The hero confronts their deepest fears and undergoes inner transformation, preparing for the ultimate ordeal.
Step 8: The Ordeal. The hero faces a significant challenge or battle, often a life-or-death situation, where they are tested both physically and mentally.
Step 9: Reward. As a result of overcoming the ordeal, the hero reaps rewards – personal growth, knowledge, or a valuable object.
Step 10: The Road Back. The hero begins their return journey, but obstacles may still stand in their way.
Step 11: Resurrection. The hero undergoes a final ordeal, where they must prove their transformation and face their ultimate fear.
Step 12: Return with the Elixir. The hero returns to their ordinary world, bringing with them the knowledge or boon gained from their journey, often empowering and inspiring others.
The Hero’s Journey serves as a universal storytelling template, reflecting the struggles, growth, and triumphs we experience in our own lives. It offers a profound understanding of transformation and the timeless hero within us all.
What Is The Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative framework that describes the classic story structure found in myths, folklore, and literature. It was popularized by scholar Joseph Campbell in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” This framework outlines the common stages and character archetypes that a hero typically undergoes in their journey.
The Hero’s Journey consists of 12 steps that can be categorized into three main phases: Departure, Initiation, and Return. Each step represents a different challenge or milestone that the hero encounters throughout their quest.
1. The Ordinary World: The hero starts in their ordinary, everyday life, unaware of their potential or the upcoming adventure.
2. Call to Adventure: The hero receives a call or invitation to go on a journey, often accompanied by a challenge or problem that needs to be solved.
3. Refusal of the Call: Initially, the hero may hesitate or resist accepting the call due to fear, doubts, or responsibilities.
4. Meeting the Mentor: The hero encounters a wise mentor figure who provides guidance, advice, or supernatural aid to help them on their journey.
5. Crossing the Threshold: The hero leaves their familiar world and enters into the unknown, facing new challenges and leaving behind their old self.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The hero faces a series of trials, meets allies, and confronts enemies, which test their commitment, skills, and character.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: The hero approaches a central or critical challenge that represents their deepest fears or obstacles.
8. Ordeal: The hero faces their greatest challenge or obstacle, often requiring a supreme effort or sacrifice to overcome it.
9. Reward: After overcoming the ordeal, the hero receives a reward or gains new knowledge, skills, or insight.
10. The Road Back: The hero begins their journey back to the ordinary world, facing further challenges or temptations along the way.
11. Resurrection: The hero faces a final test, often involving a life-or-death situation, which leads to their ultimate transformation or rebirth.
12. Return with the Elixir: The hero returns to the ordinary world, bringing back the lessons learned or sharing the reward or wisdom gained with others.
The Hero’s Journey is a powerful storytelling tool that resonates with audiences because it reflects the universal human experience of personal growth, transformation, and overcoming adversity. Many iconic stories, such as “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “The Wizard of Oz,” follow this narrative structure, making it a fundamental element of storytelling in both literature and film.
By understanding the different stages of the Hero’s Journey, writers can create compelling narratives that captivate readers or viewers, taking them on an emotional and transformative journey alongside the hero.
Stage 1. The Ordinary World
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative framework that has been used in storytelling for centuries. It outlines the journey of the protagonist, or hero, as they undergo a transformative experience. The first stage of this journey is known as “The Ordinary World.”
In this stage, the hero is introduced to the audience in their normal, everyday life. They are shown within their familiar surroundings and routine, unaware of the adventure that lies ahead. This serves to establish a baseline for the audience to understand and relate to the hero’s journey.
The Ordinary World stage is crucial for character development, as it allows the audience to connect with the hero and understand their motivations and desires. We see the hero’s strengths, weaknesses, and their role within their community or society. This stage sets the stage for what is to come and helps to create a sense of anticipation.
For example, in the US-oriented film “The Wizard of Oz,” the protagonist Dorothy is introduced in her ordinary world of Kansas. She is seen on her family’s farm, interacting with her relatives, and longing for adventure. This ordinary world provides the audience with a sense of familiarity and allows them to empathize with Dorothy’s desire for something more.
It is important for writers and storytellers to establish the ordinary world in a clear and concise manner. This can be achieved through descriptive language, vivid imagery, and relatable characters. By creating a strong foundation in the ordinary world, the subsequent stages of the hero’s journey will have a greater impact on the audience.
Stage 2. The Call To Adventure
In the Hero’s Journey, the second stage is known as the “Call To Adventure.” This is the point in the story where the hero receives a call or invitation to embark on a journey or adventure that will ultimately lead to personal growth and transformation.
During this stage, the hero is often presented with a challenge or a problem that needs to be solved. This can be in the form of a literal call, such as a phone call or a message, or it can be a symbolic call that presents itself through a series of events or circumstances.
The call to adventure typically presents the hero with an opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and face the unknown. It is a pivotal moment that sets the hero on their journey and marks the beginning of their transformation.
- The Call To Adventure is the second stage of the Hero’s Journey.
- It is the point in the story where the hero receives a call or invitation to embark on a journey.
- The call can be literal or symbolic and presents the hero with a challenge or problem to solve.
- It is a pivotal moment that marks the beginning of the hero’s transformation.
During the Call To Adventure, the hero may initially resist the call and express reluctance to embark on the journey. This resistance is often a result of fear or uncertainty. The hero may doubt their abilities or question whether they are capable of successfully navigating the challenges that lie ahead.
However, there is usually a mentor or guide who encourages the hero to answer the call and embrace the adventure. This mentor provides support, guidance, and wisdom to help the hero overcome their doubts and fears.
Once the hero accepts the call, they make a conscious decision to leave their ordinary world behind and venture into the unknown. This decision signifies their commitment to growth and transformation, as they must now face various trials and obstacles in order to achieve their goal.
In some stories, the call to adventure may come in the form of a literal invitation or request for help. For example, a distressed damsel may seek the hero’s assistance in rescuing her kingdom from an evil tyrant. In other stories, the call may be more symbolic, such as a realization or internal desire for change.
Research has shown that embracing the call to adventure and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone can lead to significant personal growth and transformation. By facing challenges and overcoming obstacles, individuals can develop new skills, gain self-confidence, and discover their true potential.
Stage 3. Refusal Of The Call
In the hero’s journey, the Refusal of the Call is the third stage where the hero initially rejects the call to adventure. The call could be a request for help, a challenge, or an opportunity for growth. This stage represents the doubts, fears, or reservations the hero may have before embarking on their journey.
At this stage, the hero may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task or uncertain about their abilities. They may question whether they are the right person for the job or whether they are ready for the challenges that lie ahead. This hesitation is a normal human response and adds depth to the hero’s character development.
Refusing the call serves as a crucial step in the hero’s journey as it allows them to confront their fears and insecurities. It also creates tension and suspense in the story, keeping the audience engaged. The hero’s reluctance sets the stage for their eventual transformation and growth.
There are several reasons why a hero might refuse the call. One common reason is the fear of leaving behind the comfort and familiarity of their current life. The hero may have responsibilities, obligations, or relationships that make them hesitate to embark on the adventure. They may also fear the unknown or worry about the potential risks and sacrifices they may have to make.
It is important to note that the refusal is not necessarily a permanent stance. Heroes may refuse the call multiple times before finally accepting it. This refusal stage allows for internal conflict and introspection, adding depth to the hero’s character and making their eventual acceptance of the call more impactful.
Overcoming the refusal of the call often requires external or internal catalysts. External catalysts can be in the form of mentors, friends, or guides who encourage and support the hero, providing them with the necessary motivation and reassurance to take on the challenge. Internal catalysts, on the other hand, can be a moment of self-reflection, a realization of the consequences of not taking action, or a shift in the hero’s perspective.
By refusing the call and eventually accepting it, the hero undergoes a transformation. This transformation is often an essential part of the hero’s journey, enabling them to acquire new skills, knowledge, and strengths. It allows them to overcome their initial doubts and fears, and ultimately prepares them for the trials and tribulations they will face as they progress through the rest of their journey.
Stage 4. Meeting With The Mentor
In the Hero’s Journey, the fourth stage is the Meeting With The Mentor. This is a crucial step in the hero’s progression as it provides them with guidance and knowledge to embark on their journey. The mentor is usually a wise and experienced character who assists the hero in their quest. This stage plays a significant role in the hero’s transformation and the overall development of the story.
During the Meeting With The Mentor, the hero encounters a figure who becomes their guide and provides them with the necessary tools, advice, and encouragement to face the challenges ahead. The mentor serves as a teacher, guardian, and source of wisdom, imparting crucial knowledge and skills to the hero. This encounter often takes place in a special location or situation that holds symbolic meaning, representing the hero’s transition from their ordinary world to the extraordinary realm of adventure.
The mentor’s role is not limited to imparting knowledge but also involves instilling belief and confidence in the hero. They help the hero recognize their potential, pushing them out of their comfort zone and encouraging growth. The mentor may challenge the hero’s preconceived notions, stretch their abilities, and provide valuable insights that enable the hero to overcome obstacles and fulfill their destiny.
Throughout mythology and literature, we encounter numerous examples of mentors who guide heroes on their journeys. For instance, in the epic poem “The Odyssey,” the goddess Athena acts as a mentor and protector to the hero Odysseus, aiding him with her wisdom, advice, and divine powers. Another famous mentor is Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” series, who guides Frodo Baggins on his quest to destroy the One Ring.
The Meeting With The Mentor is a pivotal stage as it marks the hero’s transition from a state of unawareness or fear to one of preparedness and determination. It establishes an important bond between the mentor and the hero, shaping their relationship throughout the journey. The mentor’s guidance provides the hero with a clear understanding of their mission, the dangers they will face, and the skills they must acquire to succeed.
Furthermore, the Meeting With The Mentor serves to introduce the hero to the larger world they are about to enter. The mentor may provide insights into the history, traditions, and supernatural forces at play, equipping the hero with vital knowledge for their quest. This encounter not only prepares the hero for their upcoming challenges but also sets the stage for future obstacles and encounters with other characters in the story.
Stage 5. Crossing The First Threshold
In the Hero’s Journey, crossing the first threshold is a crucial step that marks the beginning of the hero’s adventure. It is a point where the hero fully commits to leaving their ordinary world behind and entering the unknown. This stage often involves a significant change or event that propels the hero forward on their journey.
1. The call to adventure: The hero receives a call to embark on a journey or faces a challenge that demands a response. This call disrupts their ordinary life and presents an opportunity for growth and transformation.
2. Reluctance: In this stage, the hero may initially resist the call, feeling uncertain or fearful of the challenges that lie ahead. They may hesitate to leave their comfort zone and face the unknown.
3. Mentor or supernatural aid: To overcome their reluctance, the hero often encounters a mentor or receives supernatural aid, providing guidance, wisdom, or tools necessary to embark on the journey.
4. The threshold: Crossing the first threshold represents a significant point of no return. The hero leaves their familiar world behind and enters a new realm or adventure. It symbolizes the transition from the known to the unknown, leaving behind their previous self and embracing the hero within.
5. Tests and challenges: After crossing the first threshold, the hero faces a series of tests and challenges that require them to adapt, learn, and grow. These trials help the hero develop the necessary skills, qualities, and experience to face the ultimate ordeal.
6. The road of trials: The hero encounters various obstacles, adversaries, or puzzles during this stage. Each trial serves as a learning experience and prepares the hero for future encounters.
7. Character development: Crossing the first threshold often triggers significant character development for the hero. They may undergo psychological, emotional, or physical transformations as they navigate the unknown realm.
8. Building alliances: Along the journey, the hero may form alliances with allies or companions who provide support, aid, or specialized skills. These allies can offer guidance, protection, or collaborative efforts.
Crossing the first threshold is a crucial stage in the Hero’s Journey as it marks the hero’s decisive commitment to embark on the adventure. It sets the stage for the hero’s transformation and growth, pushing them beyond their comfort zone. As they leave the familiar behind, the hero must navigate tests and challenges, forming alliances and developing the necessary skills to face the ultimate ordeal that awaits them in the later stages of their journey.
Stage 6. Test, Allies, and Enemies
In the hero’s journey, the sixth stage is all about facing tests, finding allies, and encountering enemies. This is a crucial phase in the hero’s transformation, where they are challenged and tested, and where they establish alliances and confront adversaries in their quest for self-discovery and growth.
During this stage, the hero is tested both physically and mentally. These tests are designed to push the hero’s limits and help them develop the skills and attributes needed to overcome future obstacles. The challenges they face may be in the form of battles, puzzles, or moral dilemmas. These tests serve as milestones in the hero’s progress, demonstrating their increasing competence and resilience.
Along the hero’s journey, they often encounter individuals who become their allies. These allies come in various forms, such as mentors, friends, or supernatural beings. Allies play a vital role in the hero’s transformation by providing guidance, support, and sometimes even special abilities or tools that aid them on their quest. They serve as mentors, sharing wisdom and knowledge, and standing by the hero’s side during their trials.
Similarly, the hero also encounters enemies or adversaries during this stage. These enemies can take various forms, such as villains, monsters, or inner demons. They act as obstacles that the hero must confront and overcome in order to continue their journey. The enemies represent the challenges and obstacles the hero must face to grow and achieve their goals. By defeating these adversaries, the hero gains strength, resilience, and a deeper understanding of themselves.
One famous example of this stage in the hero’s journey is found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Frodo, the hero, faces numerous tests, allies, and enemies throughout his quest to destroy the One Ring. He is tested physically and mentally as he traverses treacherous landscapes, and encounters allies such as Samwise Gamgee and Gandalf, who provide guidance and support. Frodo also faces enemies, such as the Nazgul and Gollum, who constantly challenge his resolve and threaten his mission.
Research suggests that the presence of tests, allies, and enemies in the hero’s journey narrative serves as a representation of the challenges individuals face in their own lives. These elements provide opportunities for growth, resilience, and self-discovery. By overcoming tests and building alliances, individuals can develop the skills and attributes necessary to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
Stage 7. Approach to The Inmost Cave
The seventh stage of the hero’s journey is known as the Approach to The Inmost Cave. This is a crucial point in the hero’s journey where they prepare themselves mentally and physically before facing their greatest challenge or obstacle. It is a time for the hero to gather their courage and confront their fears head-on.
During this stage, the hero is aware of the impending danger that lies ahead. They have received clues or information about the ultimate goal, the treasure that awaits them in The Inmost Cave. The hero knows that they must confront this challenge in order to fulfill their quest or mission.
To prepare for the approaching challenge, the hero often seeks guidance or assistance from mentors or allies they have encountered along their journey. These mentors provide advice, knowledge, and support to help the hero overcome their doubts and fears. They may give the hero vital information or tools needed to succeed in the upcoming battle.
In addition to seeking assistance, the hero also undergoes a period of introspection and self-reflection during the Approach to The Inmost Cave. They assess their strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging their limitations and embracing their inner power. This self-discovery helps the hero build confidence and prepare mentally for what lies ahead.
As the hero approaches The Inmost Cave, they may encounter obstacles or tests that further challenge their determination and resolve. These obstacles serve as a final test of the hero’s readiness and commitment to their quest. It is common for the hero to face temptations or distractions that threaten to derail their progress. By overcoming these hurdles, the hero demonstrates their readiness to face the ultimate challenge.
The Approach to The Inmost Cave is a pivotal stage in the hero’s journey, setting the stage for the climactic battle or confrontation that will occur in the next stage. It is a time of anticipation and preparation, where the hero hones their skills, gathers their resources, and solidifies their resolve. It is the last chance to evaluate and strengthen themselves before facing the ultimate test of their abilities.
Stage 8: The Ordeal
In the Hero’s Journey, the eighth stage is known as “The Ordeal.” This is a critical point in the journey where the hero faces their most significant challenge or obstacle. It is often a life or death situation or a moment of deep emotional turmoil. The hero must confront their fears and overcome them to continue on their journey towards transformation and ultimate success.
During the Ordeal, the hero is pushed to their limits physically, mentally, or emotionally. This stage is a test of their character and determination. It is a make-or-break moment where the hero must prove their worthiness and commitment to their quest.
The Ordeal typically represents a symbolic death and rebirth for the hero. It is a transformative experience that forces the hero to confront their inner demons and emerge stronger and wiser. This stage often involves facing their fears head-on, making a sacrifice, or undergoing a profound realization about themselves or their purpose.
One of the most well-known examples of the Ordeal stage in the Hero’s Journey is found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” Frodo Baggins, the protagonist, faces the ordeal of climbing Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring. He encounters numerous obstacles, including treacherous terrain, the temptation of the ring’s power, and the relentless pursuit of the enemy. Frodo’s physical and emotional endurance are pushed to the brink, culminating in a climactic battle that tests his resolve and willpower.
In real-life, the Ordeal stage can be seen in various situations. It could be a medical emergency, a challenging job interview, or a personal struggle such as addiction or overcoming a traumatic experience. Just like in literature and films, these obstacles force individuals to confront their fears, make difficult choices, and ultimately grow or transform themselves.
Research has shown that navigating and overcoming adversity can lead to personal growth and resilience. Facing challenges head-on allows individuals to develop a sense of self-efficacy, which is the belief in their ability to handle difficult situations successfully. It can also lead to increased self-confidence, adaptability, and a broader perspective on life.
Stage 9. The Reward (Seizing the Sword)
In the Hero’s Journey, Stage 9 is known as “The Reward” or “Seizing the Sword.” This stage represents the culmination of the hero’s journey, where they have gone through trials and challenges and now achieve their ultimate goal or reward. This stage is crucial for the hero’s growth and development, as it signifies their transformation into a true hero.
During this stage, the hero finally overcomes the major ordeal or obstacle that has been central to their journey. This could be defeating a powerful enemy, solving a difficult problem, or obtaining a valuable object. The reward they receive symbolizes their success and acknowledges their bravery and determination.
The reward in the Hero’s Journey often takes the form of a powerful weapon or tool, which can represent the hero’s newfound strength or knowledge. This object may have mythical or magical properties that assist the hero in their future endeavors. The sword, in particular, is a common symbol of power, courage, and authority.
This stage is crucial for the hero’s transformation. Having overcome the major challenges and obtained the reward, the hero now possesses the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence to fulfill their destiny. They have proven themselves capable and are ready to face the final stages of their journey.
The Reward stage is not only significant for the hero but also for the audience or the community that the hero belongs to. The hero’s accomplishment inspires others and gives them hope. The hero becomes a role model, someone to be admired and emulated. Their success serves as a reminder that anyone can overcome obstacles and achieve greatness.
It is important to note that the reward obtained in this stage is not simply a material possession. It represents something much deeper and more meaningful. The reward could be inner peace, insight, wisdom, or even a newfound sense of purpose. It is a symbol of personal growth and transformation.
Stage 10. The Road Back
In the Hero’s Journey, the tenth stage is known as “The Road Back.” After the hero has achieved their goal or completed their mission, they must begin their journey back to their ordinary world. This stage serves as a transition from the climax of the story to the resolution. The hero realizes that their journey is not yet finished, and they must face one final challenge before they can return home.
During this stage, the hero may experience a sense of relief or accomplishment after overcoming the major obstacles they faced in the previous stages. They have learned valuable lessons, acquired new skills, and grown as a person. However, their journey is not over yet, as they still have unfinished business to attend to.
The road back is a critical stage that tests the hero’s resolve and determination. It presents one last hurdle or challenge that the hero must overcome before they can return to their ordinary world. This challenge could be both external, such as a final battle or confrontation with the main antagonist, as well as internal, where the hero must confront their own fears or doubts.
The hero may also face temptations or distractions that could derail their progress on the road back. These temptations could include the allure of power, wealth, or fame. It is important for the hero to stay focused and true to their mission, resisting these distractions and staying committed to their ultimate goal.
During this stage, the hero may also experience a transformation or realization that brings them closer to achieving their final goal. They may have a newfound sense of purpose or clarity, enabling them to face the road back with renewed determination and resolve.
Ultimately, the road back brings the hero full circle, back to their ordinary world. This stage marks the beginning of the resolution and ties up loose ends from the previous stages. The hero returns home, often changed or transformed by their journey, and brings with them the lessons and experiences they gained along the way.
Stage 11: The Resurrection
The eleventh stage of the Hero’s Journey is known as the Resurrection. This is the climactic point in the hero’s journey where they undergo a final ordeal, face their biggest challenge, and experience a symbolic death and rebirth. It is a crucial stage in the hero’s transformation and often leads to their ultimate triumph or failure.
During this stage, the hero must confront their greatest fear or enemy. This can be a physical battle, an emotional revelation, or a moral dilemma. The hero’s commitment to their quest is tested, and they must summon all their knowledge, skills, and inner strength to overcome the final obstacle.
The Resurrection is usually depicted as a metaphorical death and rebirth for the hero. It represents their transformation and growth throughout their journey. Just as a phoenix rises from its own ashes, the hero emerges from the ordeal stronger, wiser, and transformed.
In many stories, the Resurrection stage also involves a mentor or guide who offers the hero crucial support and insight. This mentor often helps the hero understand their true purpose or reveals a key piece of information that helps them succeed. The hero’s victory in the Resurrection stage is often a result of the mentor’s guidance and wisdom.
One famous example of the Resurrection stage is found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” Frodo Baggins, the main protagonist, faces the ultimate test in his journey to destroy the One Ring. He confronts the treacherous Gollum and must resist the temptation to give in to the ring’s power. Ultimately, Frodo succeeds, but not without sacrifice and personal transformation.
What The Hero’s Journey Means For Writers
The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling framework that has been used for centuries. Developed by mythologist Joseph Campbell, it outlines the typical journey or transformation that a hero goes through in a story. This narrative structure has become a fundamental tool for writers, especially in the realm of fiction and screenwriting, as it provides a blueprint for crafting compelling and resonant stories. In this article, we will explore the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey and discuss its significance for writers.
1. The Ordinary World:
The hero begins their journey in the ordinary world, where everything seems normal and familiar. This serves as the starting point for the audience to relate to the hero and understand their everyday life before embarking on their adventure.
2. The Call to Adventure:
The hero is presented with a call to adventure, usually in the form of a problem or a challenge that disrupts their ordinary life. This call may come from an external source or from within the hero themselves.
3. Refusal of the Call:
Initially, the hero may hesitate or refuse the call due to fear, self-doubt, or a sense of obligation to their ordinary life. This refusal serves to raise the stakes and create conflict within the hero.
4. Meeting the Mentor:
The hero encounters a mentor figure who provides guidance, wisdom, and assistance. The mentor helps the hero overcome their doubts and fears, and equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to embark on their journey.
5. Crossing the First Threshold:
The hero finally decides to leave their ordinary world and step into the unknown. This represents a major turning point in the story, as the hero commits to the adventure and embraces the challenges ahead.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies:
During the journey, the hero faces a series of tests, encounters allies who support them, and confronts enemies who challenge their progress. These trials and tribulations help the hero grow and develop their strengths and resilience.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave:
The hero approaches a significant challenge or obstacle that represents their deepest fears or insecurities. This marks a crucial point of self-reflection and introspection, where the hero must confront their inner demons in order to move forward.
The hero undergoes a life-threatening or transformative experience, often a decisive and intense confrontation with their greatest fear or enemy. This ordeal represents a critical moment of self-discovery and transformation for the hero.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword):
After overcoming the ordeal, the hero receives a reward or gains a new insight. This reward may take the form of a physical object, newfound knowledge, or a deeper understanding of themselves and their purpose.
10. The Road Back:
Armed with their reward, the hero begins their journey back to the ordinary world. However, the road back is not without its challenges, as the hero may face setbacks or temptations that test their resolve.
In the final showdown, the hero faces their ultimate test or battle, where they must confront their greatest challenge yet. This confrontation leads to a symbolic death and subsequent rebirth, representing the hero’s transformation and growth.
12. Return with the Elixir:
Having completed their journey, the hero returns to the ordinary world with a newfound wisdom or gift that can benefit others. This elixir may come in the form of knowledge, a physical object, or a changed perspective that brings about positive change.
For writers, understanding the Hero’s Journey provides a framework for creating well-rounded and engaging stories. By following this narrative structure, writers can develop relatable characters, build tension and conflict, and take readers on a transformative journey. The Hero’s Journey is not a formula to be followed rigidly, but rather a guide that allows writers to tap into universal storytelling patterns that resonate with audiences.
Numerous successful novels, movies, and television shows have employed the Hero’s Journey, showcasing its effectiveness in capturing the imagination and emotions of audiences. By utilizing the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey, writers can create stories that resonate with readers on a deeper level, providing them with a sense of adventure, growth, and fulfillment.
The Hero’s Journey: The Final Word
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that has been used in storytelling for centuries. It follows a set of 12 steps that a hero goes through on their quest for personal growth and transformation. This concept was first introduced by Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” In this final section, we will delve deeper into the key points of the Hero’s Journey and explore its relevance in contemporary American storytelling.
Step 1: The Ordinary World
The journey begins in the Ordinary World, where the hero is introduced to the audience. This is a familiar setting where the hero’s ordinary life is established. It serves as a contrast to the extraordinary adventures that lie ahead.
Step 2: The Call to Adventure
The hero receives a call to adventure, either willingly or unwillingly. This call disrupts their ordinary life and presents them with an opportunity for growth and change. It often comes in the form of a mentor or a symbolic object that propels the hero into the unknown.
Step 3: Refusal of the Call
The hero may initially refuse the call due to fear or hesitation. They may doubt their abilities or be reluctant to leave their familiar world behind. However, through external events or the encouragement of others, the hero ultimately accepts the call and embarks on their journey.
Step 4: Meeting the Mentor
On their journey, the hero encounters a mentor who provides guidance, wisdom, and aid. The mentor equips the hero with the necessary tools and knowledge to overcome challenges and fulfill their destiny. This mentor figure can be a person, an object, or even an internal inspiration.
Step 5: Crossing the Threshold
In this crucial step, the hero crosses the threshold, leaving the familiar world behind and entering the unknown. This is a significant turning point as the hero is now fully committed to their journey. They may face tests, trials, and enemies as they venture into a new and unfamiliar environment.
Step 6: Tests, Allies, and Enemies
During their journey, the hero encounters tests, allies, and enemies that serve to strengthen or challenge them. These obstacles test the hero’s resolve, forcing them to confront their inner demons and overcome their fears. Allies provide support and guidance, while enemies create conflict and tension.
Step 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave
The hero approaches the inmost cave, a physical or metaphorical place that represents their greatest fear or challenge. This is a crucial stage where the hero must prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for the final confrontation. Here, they face their deepest fears and doubts, emerging transformed and ready for the ultimate battle.
Step 8: Ordeal
In the ordeal, the hero faces their biggest challenge or confrontation. This is a life-or-death moment where the hero is pushed to their limits, both physically and emotionally. It serves as a culmination of the hero’s growth and transformation, testing their abilities and resolve.
Step 9: Reward (Seizing the Sword)
After overcoming the ordeal, the hero emerges victorious and obtains a reward, often symbolized as the “seizing the sword.” This reward represents the hero’s newfound knowledge, powers, or insight. It serves as a validation of the hero’s journey and prepares them for the final stages.
Step 10: The Road Back
Armed with their reward, the hero begins their journey back to the Ordinary World, facing the consequences of their actions. The road back is often filled with dangers and temptations that test the hero’s character and determination. It also allows them to reflect on their transformation and the impact it has on their world.
Step 11: Resurrection
In the final battle or confrontation, the hero faces their ultimate enemy or obstacle. This climactic moment represents a death and rebirth, as the hero is metaphorically resurrected. They overcome their final challenge and are forever changed, ready to bring their newfound wisdom and experience back to the Ordinary World.
Step 12: Return with the Elixir
Having experienced personal growth and transformation, the hero returns to the Ordinary World with the “elixir.” The elixir represents the wisdom, knowledge, or boon that the hero brings back to their community. This return often brings about positive change, as the hero uses their newfound abilities and insights to improve the lives of others.
The Hero’s Journey is a powerful storytelling tool that resonates with audiences in the United States and beyond. Its universal themes of personal growth, overcoming obstacles, and discovering one’s true potential strike a chord with individuals from all walks of life. Whether in literature, film, or other forms of media, understanding and incorporating the Hero’s Journey can elevate the impact and resonance of a story.
Hero’s Journey FAQs
The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling framework that has been used for centuries to depict the journey of a protagonist in literature and mythology. Developed by Joseph Campbell, it outlines a 12-step process that heroes typically undergo throughout their adventures. This framework has become a powerful tool for writers, filmmakers, and creators to craft compelling narratives. In this article, we will explore some frequently asked questions about the Hero’s Journey and shed light on its key elements.
1. What is the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that outlines the path of a hero as they embark on a transformative adventure. It consists of twelve distinct stages which include the departure, initiation, and return. These stages serve as a guide to understand the hero’s transformation, challenges, and ultimate triumph.
2. What are the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey?
The 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey are as follows:
1. The Ordinary World: Introducing the hero in their ordinary life.
2. The Call to Adventure: The hero receives a challenge or opportunity.
3. Refusal of the Call: The hero hesitates or initially rejects the journey.
4. Meeting the Mentor: The hero encounters a wise figure who provides guidance.
5. Crossing the Threshold: The hero leaves their comfort zone and enters the unknown.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The hero faces challenges, finds allies, and encounters foes.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: The hero approaches a significant challenge or ordeal.
8. Ordeal: The hero faces a life-threatening event or inner conflict.
9. Reward: The hero overcomes the ordeal and receives a reward or insight.
10. The Road Back: The hero begins the journey back to the ordinary world.
11. Resurrection: The hero faces a final test and experiences a rebirth or transformation.
12. Return with the Elixir: The hero returns to the ordinary world, equipped with newfound knowledge or abilities.
3. How does the Hero’s Journey apply to real life?
While the Hero’s Journey is often associated with fictional narratives, it also holds relevance in real life. In personal development, individuals often undergo their own hero’s journey as they face challenges, learn from mentors, overcome obstacles, and achieve personal growth. The stages of the Hero’s Journey provide a framework to understand and navigate the ups and downs of life’s journeys, making it relatable and insightful beyond the world of storytelling.
4. What are some examples of the Hero’s Journey in popular culture?
The Hero’s Journey can be found in numerous popular stories and films. For example, in the epic Star Wars saga, Luke Skywalker follows the Hero’s Journey as he progresses from a farm boy on Tatooine to a Jedi Knight fighting against the Galactic Empire. Other examples include Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Lion King, and The Matrix. These narratives showcase the universal appeal and enduring power of the Hero’s Journey.
5. Why is the Hero’s Journey an effective storytelling tool?
The Hero’s Journey resonates with audiences across cultures and generations because it mirrors the human experience of growth, challenges, and triumph. By following this narrative structure, storytellers can create engaging and relatable characters, plotlines, and themes. The Hero’s Journey instills a sense of purpose, adventure, and transformation, capturing the imagination of readers, viewers, and listeners.
Storytelling is an essential part of human culture, dating back thousands of years. Whether it’s through books, movies, or even conversations with friends, stories have the power to captivate and inspire us. One popular framework for creating compelling narratives is The Hero’s Journey, which is often used in storytelling and can be broken down into 12 key steps. In this article, we will explore each step of The Hero’s Journey and how it can be applied to create engaging and memorable stories.
1. The Ordinary World: The hero is introduced in their normal and mundane life, unaware of the adventure that lies ahead. This step sets the stage for the hero’s character development and establishes their baseline for comparison throughout their journey.
2. The Call to Adventure: Something disrupts the hero’s ordinary life, presenting them with a challenge or opportunity that they cannot ignore. This call to adventure could come in the form of a person, an event, or even an inner conflict.
3. Refusal of the Call: Initially, the hero may resist the call to adventure due to fear, doubt, or obligations. They may feel inadequate or be hesitant to leave their comfort zone. This moment of reluctance adds tension and complexity to the hero’s journey.
4. Meeting the Mentor: The hero encounters a mentor or guide who offers advice, wisdom, or assistance. The mentor helps the hero develop their skills, gain confidence, and overcome any obstacles they may face along the way.
5. Crossing the Threshold: The hero commits to the adventure and crosses the threshold into the unknown. This step symbolizes their transition from the familiar world to the unknown, where they will face challenges and grow as a result.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The hero embarks on a series of tests, encounters allies who support their journey, and faces enemies or obstacles that test their mettle. These challenges serve to shape the hero’s character, develop their skills, and build suspense in the story.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: The hero approaches a significant and potentially dangerous or transformative place or event. This step often represents the climax of the story, where the stakes are highest, and the hero must confront their fears or weaknesses.
8. Ordeal and Reward: The hero faces their biggest challenge to date, often referred to as the ordeal. This moment tests the hero’s resolve, and their ultimate success or failure determines the reward they will reap. The reward could be external, such as a physical object, or internal, like personal growth or enlightenment.
9. The Road Back: After the ordeal, the hero begins their journey back to the ordinary world. They may be pursued by enemies or face additional tribulations, but they are armed with newfound knowledge, skills, or allies that aid them in their journey.
10. Resurrection: The hero experiences a final, climactic battle or challenge that pushes them to their limits. It represents a metaphorical death and rebirth, as the hero undergoes a transformation and emerges stronger and wiser than before.
11. Return with the Elixir: The hero returns to the ordinary world, armed with the elixir, which could be a physical object, wisdom, or newfound abilities. The hero’s return brings about significant changes or resolutions to their everyday life.
12. The New Ordinary: The hero has integrated their journey into their ordinary life, achieving personal growth and applying the lessons learned from the adventure. The story concludes, but the effects of the hero’s journey ripple on.