The Hero’s Journey- The Road of Trials

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the-hero_s-journey

Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

As I have mentioned before, this is not a comprehensive study of the Hero’s Journey. The goal here is simply to present an overview of the ideas for reference.

Having said that, last time in our discussion of the Hero’s Journey we looked at Crossing the Threshold.

Today we will examine the danger of The Road of Trials.

The Road of Trials

The road of trials is important from a standpoint of characterization as well as story development. As an author, creating more trials can not only extend the story but give more opporunities to allow the protagonist to adapt and grow into the hero. It is best used to steadily build tension and conflict within stories and is often the focus of many Role Playing Games (RPGs).

The Road can be broken into five main divisions or types of trials.
Brother Battle

This battle occurs in one of two ways:

1) The hero placates his enemy in some way. An example of this can be seen in “Star Trek into Darkness.” During the climax of the movie, Kahn orders Spock to transfer over the 72 missiles holding his crew to the USS Vengeance. Spock decides to comply rather than fight and ensure the destruction of th Enterprise.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Spock

sybokmaybe Credit: Paramount Pictures

Or

2) The hero faces a familiar foe. An example of this can be seen in “A New Hope” as well as “Revenge of the Sith” when Obi Wan Kenobi must face his long time apprentice and friend Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker respectively. (or is that in reverse order?)

star-wars-vader-vs-obi-wan

Credit: 20th Century Fox and LucasArts

Anakin_vs_Obi_Wan_by_SithJammies

Credit:20th Century Fox and LucasArts

Dragon Battle

This battle is the hero facing off against an enemy who in the end he/she must vanquish and defeat. A good example of this is in the “Fellowship of the Ring.” Here, Frodo and company are attacked by a band of orcs and trolls in the Mines of Moria whom they must defeat in order to escape.

troll

Credit: New Line Cinema

Dismemberment

In this type of battle, the hero with lose a body part during the battle. A classic example is Luke Skywalker in “Empire Strikes Back” during his first battle with Darth Vader. (Note: this type of battle recurs often in Star Wars i.e. Anakin, Count Dooku, Jango Fett etc.)

lukehand

Credit: 20th Century Fox and LucasArts

Crucifixion

This type of battle is where the hero dies. The death can be either metaphorical or real and sometimes the hero comes back to life. A good example of this is in the “Fellowship of the Ring” where Boromir dies.

boromir

Credit: New Line Cinema

Abduction

In this type of battle, the hero is kidnapped and forced along the journey. A great example of this is the “Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy is picked up by the tornado, a force she cannot escape from nor fight against, and tossed into the silly land of Oz. Immediately, she kills the Wicked Witch of the East and becomes a sort of de facto hero.

oz3

Credit: MGM

All of these types of trials will challenge and change the hero ultimately preparing him/her for the final battle he/she will face. But first the hero must descend into the Belly of the Whale. We will discuss that next time.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

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The Hero’s Journey- Crossing the Threshold

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the-hero_s-journey

Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

Last time in our discussion of the Hero’s Journey we looked at The Helper.

Today we will examine the danger of Crossing the Threshold.

The Threshold

percy gateway

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The point of no return.

Once this line is crossed the hero has only two options: Succeed or Die. The danger gets exponentially higher making option two seem more likely and option one less attainable. But make no mistake, there is a clear distinction now for the hero. His/Her eyes have finally opened, and he/she is not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

A good example of this is seen in The Matrix.

matrix-red-pill

Credit: Vintage Roadshow Pictures

Neo gets unceremoniuosly pulled from his day job into a trail of mystery leading him to his infamous meeting with Morpheus. Here, he is offered a choice: red or blue. Blue lets him go back to his boring office job (World of Commn Day) while red leads to truth and the “real world”. (or is it just real world?)

Obviously, we know what he chooses. (Or do we? Seriously, it can get too confusing if you really think about it.)

Anyway, the point is that he made the choice and, therefore, Crossed the Threshold.

Now, don’t expect the hero to leave this world easily. Standing between the threshold and the hero most often is a Threshold Guardian.

The Threshold Guardian

This character’s job is simple- keep the hero from crossing the threshold by killing him/her. And usually, this villain is an expendable, one-time use bad guy.

For example, look no further than Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

20130803-121736.jpg

As Percy tries to make it to Camp Half-Blood, he is pursued by a Minotaur who wants nothing more than to kill him.

He is forced to battle his way past this mythological creature before he can gain entrance into his world of adventure. Lucky for him, and us, he wins. Otherwise there would be no story.

And once this line has been crossed we celebrate our hero for the accomplishment, but fear for the worst as we know that the danger only grows from here.

We will discuss that growing danger next time when we study The Road of Trials!

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

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