The Hero’s Journey: The Belly of the Whale

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the-hero_s-journey

Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

Last time we discussed the Road of Trials in the Hero’s Journey, up next is the Belly of the Whale.

The Belly of the Whale

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Credit: Disney

After a long and arduous journey from leaving the comfort zone and traipsing through untold toils, the hero will eventually find himself/herself trapped in the antagonist’s backyard.

The name for this stage obviously comes from the Biblical story of Jonah famously misinterpreted by Disney in a scene in Pinocchio, (Jonah was neither in a whale nor alive). But just as Pinocchio faced certain death with no escape, so too do heroes.

A classic example is Frodo and Sam in Mordor.

frodo_sam_looking_toward_mordor


Credit: New Line Cinema

But the convention has existed in myriad other stories such as the aforementioned Pinocchio as well as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, or Luke in Return of the Jedi just to name a few.

The overarching idea here is that the hero is trapped and must somehow defeat his/her enemy to find a way out. Frodo is stuck in Mordor, Pinocchio is in the Whale, Dorothy is locked in the Witch’s castle, and Luke is on the New Death Star.

All of this stage really accomplishes is to foreshadow and set-up the Supreme Ordeal which we will unravel next time.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

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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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