Don Quixote Hero's Journey

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Don Quixote Heroic Journey Graphic Organizer


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Activity Overview

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.

Don Quixote is an unlikely epic hero. Cervantes is very clever in using many of the elements of epic storytelling, but with a main character who is not heroic. Despite being delusional and generally incapable, Don Quixote’s journey does seem to escalate and follow predominant traits of Campbell's Heroic Journey.

A fun assignment for students is to ask them to depict which steps of the heroic journey match up with Cervantes' tale. Below is a completed example using six elements of the heroic journey. Remember to allow for interpretation when students are completing their own, as examples may vary in the number of steps included.

Don Quixote: An Unlikely Hero

Stage Summary
Ordinary world The story begins when the reader is introduced to Alonso Quijano, a middle aged man who enjoys reading books about knights and their deeds.
Call to Adventure After becoming so engrossed in these fantasies he changes his name to Don Quixote and decides to become a heroic knight-errant. With his nearly decrepit horse, Rocnante, and his ancient armor, he sets out in the name of his fair lady, Dulcinea; a peasant woman he’s never met.
Mentor/Helper After an unsuccessful first quest, he recruits, Sancho Panza, his faithful sidekick and squire!
Crossing the Threshold On his quest, Quixote attacks a windmill with a lance, thinking it’s a giant, his own delusions and his belief that he cannot return home until he’s done his knightly deeds emphasize this metaphoric threshold. The point of no return might have actually come when he came to believe that he was a true knight.
Test/Allies/Enemies A majority of Don Quixote’s tale deals with the other characters he meets along the way. Notable adventures include the funeral of the lovestruck student, the galley slaves, the unifying of two bereaved couples, and Don Quixote dream that he is battling a giant.
Return In the end, friends of Don Quixote’s come to bring Quixote and Sancho home. They inevitably have to drag him, with which Quixote complies only by believing his is under enchantment.

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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Use the story of Don Quixote and map it to the narrative structure of the Hero's Journey.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Depict and describe how the chosen character's story fits (or does not fit ) into each of the stages of the Hero's Journey.
  3. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
  4. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.



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