Related to both plot diagram and types of literary conflict, the ”Hero’s Journey” is a recurring pattern of stages many heroes undergo over the course of their stories. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer, articulated this cycle after researching and reviewing numerous myths and stories from a variety of time periods and regions of the world. He found that they all share fundamental principles. This spawned the Hero’s Journey, also known as the Monomyth. The most basic version has 12 steps, while more detailed versions can have up to 17.
Structure of the Monomyth
Part One - Call to Adventure
During the exposition, the hero is in the ordinary world, usually the hero’s home or natural habitat. Conflict arises, which calls the hero to adventure, where they are beckoned to leave their ordinary world in search of something. They may refuse the call at first, but eventually leave, knowing that something important hangs in the balance.
Once the hero has officially begun their journey, they will meet a mentor or helper (a sidekick in some genres) and together these two will cross the threshold. This is the point where turning back is not an option, and where they usually encounter tests, allies and enemies. Obstacles like tests and enemies must be overcome it in order to continue. Helpers, aid in their journey.
Having overcome initial obstacles, the hero and their allies reach the approach. Here they will prepare for the major challenge in this new or special world. During the approach, the hero undergoes an ordeal, testing them to point near death. Their greatest fear is sometimes exposed, and from the ordeal comes a new life or revival for the hero. For their efforts in overcoming the ordeal, the hero reaches the reward. The hero receives the reward for facing death. There may be a celebration, but there is also danger of losing the reward.
Once the reward is won, the hero and companions start on the road back. The hero is wants to complete the adventure and return to their ordinary world with their treasure. This stage is often referred to as either the resurrections or atonement. As they reach the threshold (returning from the unknown to their ordinary world) the reader arrives at the climax of the story. Here, the hero is severely tested one last time. This test is an attempt to undo their previous achievements. At this point, the hero has come full circle, and the major conflict at the beginning of the journey is finally resolved. In the return home, the hero has now resumed life in his/her original world, and things are restored to ordinary.