The Hero’s Journey- Return with the Elixir

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Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

Last time we delved into The Flight, today it’s all about our last stage Return with the Elixir.

Return with the Elixir

The flight has ended, the journey is done. It’s time to relax, the war is won.

Or is it?

Just like the title says, the hero returns with his prize from the journey. The prize can be a literal, tangible object, or skills acquired. But as the journey comes to a close, there are two basic ways the Hero’s Journey ends.

 

Medals and Party

In this final stage, the protagonist has reached the end of the journey. He/she has become a hero. He/she has saved the world from certain doom. The hero should be celebrated. Laurels need to be given. Wine needs to be drunk. In other words: party!

And very often the heroes will celebrate the victory. They will enjoy their accomplishments and mourn their losses.

Take for instance Star Wars. (A New Hope or Return of the Jedi). In both examples the Death Star has been destroyed, certain doom has been avoided, awards are given and a party is thrown.

pjGjf 4518

And as happens so often in Disney movies: they live happily ever after.

But at the end of the Hero’s Journey, this isn’t always the case.

 

Another Journey Begins

Sometimes the hero cannot leave the World of Adventure and gets swept away onto another fantastic journey. Sometimes the journey never ends. Sometimes the ending is just the beginning.

Remember Batman or Iron Man or Spiderman or Superman or really any other superhero out there? Remember how there is always another villain to conquer and plot to foil? Yeah, it’s basically like that.

Superheroes

The hero will live his/her life vanquishing foes and saving the world constantly reliving the Hero’s Journey.

 

And there we have it. The Hero’s Journey in tiny, bite site, easy to swallow chunks. I do so hope this series has been helpful and insightful. I hope it has brought a smile to your face, aided with a term paper, helped informed your teaching, or simply enlightened your day.

Until next time,
Peace and Long Reads

Justin

The Hero’s Journey- The Supreme Ordeal

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the-hero_s-journey

Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

Last time we delved into the Belly of the Whale, today it’s all about the Supreme Ordeal.

The Supreme Ordeal

This is the seminal moment in the story. This is where it all comes together. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. This is the moment the protagonist finally takes on the mantel of the hero and has his/her standoff with the main antagonist.

There are four ways in which this occurs:

1. Sacred Marriage

trinity neo0201

This type of ordeal can sometimes be named the the “Goddess Meeting”  but this is more of a misnomer. The idea is that the protagonist needs help from the opposite sex. If the hero is a boy he needs a girl’s help, and vice-versa. There could be an actual meeting with a goddess, or this help can come from the female character using her powers to join with the male character’s, or she could simply save the hero from certain doom. Either way, the significance is found in the protagonist needing the opposite sex. A number of examples include Trinity and Neo, Frodo and Galadriel, or Luke and Leia.

2. Father Atonement

lukevvader

This is where the hero must defeat his father as the main antagonist. Often, it is a reconnecting for the two of them. For a classic case, just think of Luke and Darth Vader. (Or Buzz and Zurg, if you’re a kid at heart.)

3. Apotheosis

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The apotheosis is where the hero must finally become a full master of his powers in order to defeat the enemy. Sometimes he doesn’t become a master, but discovers his powers in victory. Either way, think of it as becoming godlike. A great example is Neo. Once he accepts his true identity as “the one” he can do anything.

4. Elixir Theft

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This is the hero confronting his arch-enemy and in defeat of him, steals a prize possession. Sometimes the hero kills his enemy, sometimes he lets him live, but the focus should be on a stolen item. Classic case: Bilbo Baggins and Smaug.

At the conclusion of this stage we should see a quick unravelling of the story as we speed through our last two stages beginning with, Flight.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

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

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

The Hero’s Journey- The Helper

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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 Refusal of The Call.

Today, we will unravel the necessity or or lack thereof of The Helper.

The Helper

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In this deadly and unknown world of adventure fraught with hazards at every turn, the hero will unwittingly need assistance to finish the task.  His life hanging in the balance, this help will come in 4 different archetypes some of which can be played by the same character.

The Ally

The Ally comes along the journey with the hero in one of two ways.

First, you have:

The “Already a Hero” Ally

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Credit: moviestore.nl

This is the character with the expertise, experience, and exponential reserve to see the hero to the end. He has walked in the hero’s shoes therefore giving him/her the best perspective on what the hero is dealing with. An example of this archetype might be Strider from Lord of the Rings. (I know you might argue that since he is really Aragorn he fits in the lower category, but just remember that these are fluid archetypes. Characters can slip in and out depending on the story. But just for the sake of argument, this is the Aragorn from Fellowship whom we called Strider when we first met him.)

Or you might have:

The “Becoming a Hero” Ally

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Credit: councilofelrond.com

Here, the ally is on the journey for the same reasons as the hero. Both are searching for their confirmation in the hero realm. This ally might have special abilities that separate him/her from the hero, and he/she might be on his/her own hero’s journey. But it is the lack of experience that defines this archetype. There are a million to choose from, but keeping with the Lord of the Rings theme, any one of the three hobbits accompanying Frodo would fit this description.

Moving on to the second archetype.

The Sidekick

In this case, the helper is either one of two extremes. He/she is either essential or just filler.

Case in point, take Robin.

robin_23

Credit: batfriend.com

At times Robin is the most ridiculous, annoying, in-the-way-hero helper… ever! I look at him and want to slap the lame out of him. It’s as if DC Comics thought Batman needed someone to stand next to to make him look cooler.

batman33009

(As if that were possible.)

But then came George Clooney’s nipple suit, and suddenly the boy wonder was not only much tougher, he seemed necessary. (He still looked stupid, but at least he saved Batman’s life on occasion.)

batman-et-robin-1997-03-g

(What were they thinking?)

Archetype number 3.

The Mentor

This archetype is similar to the “Already a Hero” Ally except for one small difference. The Mentor will be an experienced member of the journey who has “been there before” much like the similar Ally. This archetype might even pass on knowledge like the Ally. But the distinction between Ally and Mentor occurs when the Mentor steps out of the way to allow the hero the grow up and become the hero. Without this subtle action, the hero would never rise to the occasion. He/she would rely on the Mentor instead of solving his/her own problems.

A great example of this is Qui-Gon Ginn.

quigon

(Yoda doesn’t go on the journey with Luke.)

(The caption is for those purists out there. I know what you are thinking.)

Just think about the end of A Phantom Menace.

Last archetype.

The Supernatural Aid

This is the helper who uses, you guessed it, supernatural forces i.e. magic to accomplish the end goal. It’s really just as simple as that. The Supernatural Aid uses magic. A good example would be Merlin. (Gandalf is just too easy.)

merlin_preview2

(No, that’s not Agent Smith. Yes, it is the dude from Jurassic Park.)

And there you have it. Remember, some characters may play one or more archetypal roles. For instance, Gandalf would be considered, a Mentor, and a Supernatural Aid. Aragorn could, at times, be considered an Ally, a Mentor, and a Supernatural Aid. (If you count him being the only person able to get the army of the dead to fight in the war.)

Next time, we will discuss The Threshold of Adventure and what happens when it is crossed.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

The Hero’s Journey- The Refusal of the Call

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Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

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

Today we will venture into the excitement of The Refusal of the Call.

The Refusal

refuse

Credit: zealoflife.blogspot.om

Once our intrepid hero has been called out of his/her World of Common Day, there is sometimes, and I emphasize sometimes, a moment or period of time where said hero does not want to go for a couple of reasons.

Hero is Unsure

obiwanwiltrainluke[1]

Credit: LucasArts

This reason is pretty self explanatory, but basically the hero is being tied down and is worried about his/her responsibilities or is just plain scared.

We see this again with Luke. Though he had an inward call, when the moment came for him to jump on a starship and head off into adventure, he tells Obi-Wan that he can’t because of his responsibilities.

Helper is Unsure

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Credit: Lucas Arts

In this case, the hero is all rearing to go, but his helper, more on this later, is holding him back for the same reasons as above. Once the helper, either lets go of his/her fear or his/her responsibilities are removed, then the adventure can begin.

For an example, think of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Ark. Indiana is primed and ready to stop the Nazis and find the Ark first, but he needs the help of an old lover named Marion. When he meets up with her, she is unwilling to go because of her responsibilities in her bar. But when the Nazis burn it down, all bets are off and Marion is finally ready to embark on the adventure.

Sometimes

And sometimes, the refusal doesn’t exist at all. Sometimes, the hero goes about his/her adventure without barrier, border, or barricade and plunges head first into the foray. Sometimes.

Next time I will go into more detail about the 4 types of helpers you will encounter on a hero’s journey.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

The Hero’s Journey- The Call to Adventure

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Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

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

Today we will venture into the excitement of The Call to Adventure.

The Call to Adventure

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Credit: cutcaster.com

In this progression of the ordinary Joe Shmoe becoming a hero, we see that there is a moment when the safety net of The World of Common Day will be taken away, and the hero is compelled to make a choice to leave. This can occur in two possible scenarios.

Scenario One: The Inward Call

obiwanwiltrainluke[1]

Credit: LucasArts

In this scenario, the hero has a strong desire to see “what’s out there”. There is often a pining for stories of other heroes and adventures and expressions of boredom with his/her common day. Sometimes the hero’s desires may be squelched, but eventually those roadblocks are taken away and he/she is free to pursue the adventure. An example for this can be found once again in the iconic Star Wars.

As we last left Luke, he was drowning his sorrows in his blue milk wanting to join the Rebels in their fight against the Empire. His uncle played the killjoy and refused to let him leave, promising just “one more season”. But as Luke runs into a stubborn little astrodroid named R2D2 with a penchant for running away, he is forced into abandoning his homestead just as Imperial troops arrive to destroy it and his family. (This is the roadblock being removed.) As sad, and slightly horrifying, as this moment is, Luke is now free to follow his longing to leave and join Obi-Wan and the Rebels and begin his journey.

Scenario Two: The Outward Call

frodo-and-the-ring

Credit: New Line Cinema

In this scenario, there is some force compelling the hero to take action and leave behind his/her boring life. Most often, the hero is not looking for adventure and is as peachy as can be in his/her comfort zone.

But along will come some person or item that will warn of danger. And in some cases, the hero simply gets kidnapped and forced on to the journey. Usually there will be a constant pining for home or at the very least a desire to know how everyone at home is coping.

The best example for this (though since this story was published many have copied it) is The Lord of the Rings.

I’ll wager to guess you were even already thinking about it.

Little old Frodo, comfy and cozy, living with his uncle in a beautiful shire has no thought of the outside world. Though he knows of his uncle Bilbo’s adventures, he spends his days having fun with his pals. Then along comes news of Bilbo’s ring and the danger with it, and Frodo is all of a sudden forced out of his home and onto the road of sure death. Goodbye safety net, hello adventure.

The next stage in our journey will find both Luke and Frodo unsure of what to do. More on this next time.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

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