Beowulf Hero's Journey
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual or Partner
Type of Activity: The Hero's JourneyCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/6] Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature
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 shared 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.
Beowulf Example Following the Hero’s Journey Structure
|Ordinary World||Beowulf's ordinary world was Geatland.|
|Call to Adventure||Beowulf heard stories of a monster known as Grendel, who was hunting the warriors of Heorot. Over twelve years, Grendel killed more than 30 of King Hrothgar’s men. The people needed a hero of epic proportions, so they called upon Beowulf.|
|Refusal||(No Refusal) Beowulf could not refuse the plight of King Hrothgar, so he gathered his best men and set off for Denmark.|
|Mentor/Helper||King Hrothgar becomes Beowulf's mentor, though his influence is not seen at first. Beowulf uses the incident with Grendel as a guide when he becomes king. Through Hrothgar, Beowulf learns that a king who cannot fight is useless to his people. Another example of a helper or supernatural aid is when Unferth lends the sword, Hrunting, to Beowulf to help him defeat Grendel’s mother.|
|Cross the Threshold||Beowulf and his men cross the sea from Geatland to Denmark.|
|Test/Allies/Enemies||Beowulf battled Grendel, and outsmarts the monster; He takes Grendel's arm as a trophy, mortally wounding him. Later, he also battles the swamp hag and the dragon. An important ally against the dragon is Wiglaf.|
|Approach||Thinking he has ended the battle, the Geat's throw a great feast in his honor. However, they learn there is a new foe: Grendel's mother. Beowulf’s work is not yet done.|
|Ordeal||Beowulf must defeat the evil swamp hag to save the Danes. To defeat her, he swims into the her underwater lair and stabs her with a sword made for a giant.|
|Reward||King Hrothgar gives Beowulf his finest horses and a massive treasure.|
|Road back||Upon returning home, Beowulf ascends to the throne of his homeland where he rules wisely for over 50 years.|
|Atonement||When he first returns, he gives Hygelac gifts. Years later, his heroic deeds are again needed. When a would-be thief disturbs a dragon, it threatens his land. Knowing he has lived a full life and seeing his death before him, Beowulf charges into the action and defeats the dragon, but not before he is bitten in the neck and poisoned.|
|Return||According to legend, Beowulf's body and a massive treasure were burned on a funeral pyre overlooking the sea. He dies a hero’s death, and his stories are told over generations.|
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Use the story of Beowulf and map it to the narrative structure of the Hero's Journey.
- Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
- Depict and describe how the chosen character's story fits (or does not fit ) into each of the stages of the Hero's Journey.
- Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
- Save and submit storyboard to assignment.
(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)