The Hero’s Journey

By Rebecca Ray

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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.
Monomyth - Part One - Call to Adventure
Create your own at StoryboardThat.com The hero is at home in their ordinary world. Something happens that causes them to go on an adventure. Here the hero's cat has run away. The hero is hesitant at first to go on a journey. In this scenario it is getting dark and the woods are very scary. The Ordinary World The Call to Aventure Refusal

Example

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Part Two - Supreme Ordeal or Initiation

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.
Monomyth - Part Two - Supreme Ordeal or Initiation
Create your own at StoryboardThat.com A helper arrives to guide the hero through his journey. In this case, it is a brave dog who aids the hero as a companion. The two then continue on to the point when turning back is not an option. On the way, they are tested and meet enemies or allies. When they reach the scary woods a man appears with a search light and scares away the bats. Mentor Helper Crossing the Threshold Test/Allies/Enemies

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Part Three - Unification or Transformation

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.
Monomyth - Part Three - Unification or Transformation
Create your own at StoryboardThat.com The hero and allies get ready for a major challenge: rescuing the cat from a dangerous height. During the ordeal, they experience near death: almost falling as they try to rescue the cat. The trio is successful, and they have their reward. The cat is safe and they may journey back. Approach Ordeal Reward

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Part Four - Road Back or Hero's Return

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.
Monomyth - Part Four - Road Back or Hero's Return
Create your own at StoryboardThat.com On the road back they come across one more obstacle: the cat sees a mouse and the hero fears loosing him again. The hero and his cat reach the threshold of their home, and realize how much they need and love each other. Things are restored to normal. ROAD BACK ATONEMENT RETURN