Does it ever feel like you are consuming the same stories told over and over again when you sit down at your favorite cineplex? You are. And here’s the blockbuster formula.
The Hero’s Journey was first described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell was a scholar of comparative mythology. He looked at stories from all over the world to find common themes. He found that many stories followed a similar pattern, which he called the monomyth. The Hero’s Journey is based on the mono-myth, and it has been used as a framework for stories ever since.
The basic steps of the hero’s journey are:
- The Ordinary World: The protagonist is introduced in their ordinary world, where they face a problem or challenge.
- The Call to Adventure: The protagonist receives a call to adventure, which may take the form of a person, place, or event.
- Refusal of the Call: The protagonist refuses the call to adventure, often out of fear or doubt.
- Meeting the Mentor: The protagonist meets a mentor who helps them overcome their fear and doubt and prepare for the journey ahead.
- Crossing the Threshold: The protagonist crosses the threshold into the special world, where they begin their adventure.
- Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The protagonist faces tests, meets allies, and defeats enemies as they journey through the special world.
- Approach to the Inmost Cave: The protagonist approaches the inmost cave, which is often symbolic of their deepest fear or challenge.
- Ordeal: The protagonist faces their deepest fear or challenge and emerges victorious.
- Reward: The protagonist is rewarded for their victory, often in the form of wisdom or power.
- The Road Back: The protagonist begins the journey back to their ordinary world.
- Resurrection: The protagonist is transformed by their experience and returns to their ordinary world a changed person.
- Return with the Elixir: The protagonist brings back an elixir, which is often symbolic of the wisdom or power they have gained on their journey.
The Hero’s Journey is not just about stories; it can also be used as a framework for personal growth. If you are facing a challenge or problem in your life, you can use the steps of the hero’s journey to help you overcome it.
- The Ordinary World: This is where you face your problem or challenge. You may feel like you are stuck in a rut or that there is no way out.
- The Call to Adventure: This is the point at which you receive a call to adventure, which may take the form of a person, place, or event. It is up to you to decide whether to answer the call.
- Refusal of the Call: You may refuse the call to adventure out of fear or doubt. This is a normal reaction, but it is important to overcome your fear and doubt to journey onward.
- Meeting the Mentor: You will meet a mentor who can help you overcome your fear and doubt and prepare for the journey ahead. The mentor may be a friend, family member, teacher, or even a stranger.
- Crossing the Threshold: You will cross the threshold into the special world, where you will begin your adventure. This may be a literal journey to a new place, or it may be a figurative journey into new territory within yourself.
- Tests, Allies, and Enemies: You will face tests, meet allies, and defeat enemies as you journey through the special world. These challenges will help you grow and learn more about yourself.
- Approach to the Inmost Cave: You will approach the inmost cave, which is often symbolic of your deepest fear or challenge. This is the point at which you must face your fears head-on to continue onward.
- Ordeal: You will face your deepest fear or challenge and emerge victorious. This experience will be difficult, but it will make you stronger.
- Reward: You will be rewarded for your victory, often in the form of wisdom or power. This reward will help you on your journey back to the ordinary world.
- The Road Back: You will begin the journey back to your ordinary world. This may be a literal journey back to where you started, or it may be a figurative journey back to a place of peace within yourself.
- Resurrection: You will be transformed by your experience and return to your ordinary world a changed person. This transformation will help you to overcome your challenges and live a more fulfilling life.
- Return with the Elixir: You will bring back an elixir, which is often symbolic of the wisdom or power you have gained on your journey. This elixir will help you to share your new-found wisdom with others and make a difference in the world.
The Hero’s Journey can benefit us in real life as a tool to help us to overcome challenges and grow as individuals. If you are facing a problem or challenge, the Hero’s Journey may be a “12 Step Program” to help you overcome it.
Anything worth achieving is difficult, but the road to achievement, with all its bumps and bruises is also the road to strength and wisdom.
By following the steps of the journey, you can learn more about yourself and develop your own unique gifts and talents. Life is fired at us point-blank.
We can’t avoid the journey. Approaching it with an understanding of the process can help you navigate the day to day and live a more fulfilling life.