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In the course of analyzing the myths and lore of various world cultures, mythologist Joseph Campbell saw an underlying similarity throughout the stories, and in fact perceived and articulated a storyline-structure he believed to be universal for hero-myths. This storyline he called the monomyth. Here is an outline of the basic structure of the universal hero’s monomyth, as Campbell discussed it in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces: I. Departure - The Call to Adventure - Refusal of the Call - Supernatural Aid - The Crossing of the First Threshold - The Belly of the Whale II. Initiation - The Road of Trials - The Meeting with the Goddess - Woman as the Temptress - Atonement with the Father - Apotheosis - The Ultimate Boon III. Return - Refusal of the Return - The Magic Flight - Rescue from Without - The Crossing of the Return Threshold - Master of the Two Worlds - Freedom to Live
Hero's Journey Hero Archetypes Heroine's Journey
Inciting Incident Ordinary World Call to Adventure Interdiction / Refusal of the Call Supernatural Aid First Threshold Belly of the Whale
Physical Separation Transformation Mentor Trials, Transformation and The Great Cave Complex Meeting the Oracle and Ideal Divergence Journey to the Sword Seizing the Sword Night Sea Journey Death or Near Death Experience Rebirth Convergence Shape Shifter Revealed and The Red Herring Atonement with the Father Apotheosis Ultimate Boon
Disgust and Refusal of the Return Magic Flight Rescue from Without Crossing the Return Threshold Final Conflict Master of the Two Worlds Freedom to Live AfterLife Act
And a diagram of the Hero’s circular adventure:
Chris Vogler - The Writer's Journey Archetypes •Hero •Mentor •Shape shifter •Trickster •Herald •Shadow •Threshold Guardians (•Allies) The Hero's Journey 1.Ordinary World 2.Call to Adventure 3.Refusal of the Call 4.Mentor 5.First Threshold 6.Tests, Allies, Enemies 7.Approach to the Inmost Cave 8.Ordeal 9.Reward (seizing the sword) 10.The Road Back 11.Resurrection 12.Return with the Elixir Vogler's Map of the Journey Vogler breaks down the "Journey" into seven archetypes and twelve stages:
The Seven Archetypes Hero: "The Hero is the protagonist or central character, whose primary purpose is to separate from the ordinary world and sacrifice himself for the service of the Journey at hand - to answer the challenge, complete the quest and restore the Ordinary World's balance. We experience the Journey through the eyes of the Hero." Mentor: "The Mentor provides motivation, insights and training to help the Hero." Threshold Guardian: "Threshold Guardians protect the Special World and its secrets from the Hero, and provide essential tests to prove a Hero's commitment and worth." Herald: "Herald characters issue challenges and announce the coming of significant change. They can make their appearance anytime during a Journey, but often appear at the beginning of the Journey to announce a Call to Adventure. A character may wear the Herald's mask to make an announcement or judgment, report a news flash, or simply deliver a message." Shapeshifter: "The Shapeshifter's mask misleads the Hero by hiding a character's intentions and loyalties." Shadow: "The Shadow can represent our darkest desires, our untapped resources, or even rejected qualities. It can also symbolize our greatest fears and phobias. Shadows may not be all bad, and may reveal admirable, even redeeming qualities. The Hero's enemies and villains often wear the Shadow mask. This physical force is determined to destroy the Hero and his cause." Trickster: "Tricksters relish the disruption of the status quo, turning the Ordinary World into chaos with their quick turns of phrase and physical antics. Although they may not change during the course of their Journeys, their world and its inhabitants are transformed by their antics. The Trickster uses laughter [and ridicule] to make characters see the absurdity of the situation, and perhaps force a change." The Twelve Stages of the Journey Ordinary World: "The Hero's home, the safe haven upon which the Special World and the Journey's outcome must be compared." The Journey begins in the Ordinary World, travels to the Special World, and returns to the Ordinary World. Call to Adventure: The Call to Adventure sets the story rolling by disrupting the comfort of the Hero's Ordinary World, presenting a challenge or quest that must be undertaken. Refusal of the Call: "A Hero often refuses [or is reluctant] to take on the Journey because of fears and insecurities that have surfaced from the Call to Adventure. The Hero may not be willing to make changes, preferring the safe haven of the Ordinary World. This becomes an essential stage that communicates the risks involved in the Journey that lies ahead. Without risks and danger or the likelihood of failure, the audience will not be compelled to be a part of the Hero's Journey." Meeting with the Mentor: "The Hero meets a Mentor to gain confidence,
insight, advice, training, or magical gifts to overcome the initial fears and face the Threshold of the adventure. The Mentor may be a physical person, or an object such as a map, a logbook, or other writing." Crossing the Threshold: "Crossing the threshold signifies that the Hero has finally committed to the Journey. He is prepared to cross the gateway that separates the Ordinary World from the Special World." Tests, Allies, Enemies: "Having crossed the threshold, the Hero faces Tests, encounters Allies, confronts Enemies, and learns the rules of this Special World. The Hero needs to find out who can be trusted. Allies are earned, a Sidekick may join up, or an entire Hero Team forged. The Hero must prepare himself for the greater Ordeals yet to come and needs this stage to test his skills and powers, or perhaps seek further training from the Mentor. This Initiation into this Special World also tests the Hero's commitment to the Journey, and questions whether he can succeed." Approach to the Inmost Cave: "The Hero must make the preparations needed to approach the Inmost Cave that leads to the Journey's heart, or central Ordeal. Maps may be reviewed, attacks planned, a reconnaissance launched, and possibly the enemies forces whittled down before the Hero can face his greatest fear, or the supreme danger lurking in the Special World." The Approach may be a time for some romance or a few jokes before the battle, or it may signal a ticking clock or a heightening of the stakes. Ordeal: "The Hero engages in the Ordeal, the central life-or-death crisis, during which he faces his greatest fear, confronts his most difficult challenge, and experiences "death". His Journey teeters on the brink of failure. The Ordeal is the central magical Stage of any Journey. Only through "death" can the Hero be reborn, experiencing a resurrection that grants greater power or insight to see the Journey to the end." Reward (Seizing the Sword): "The Hero has survived death, overcome his greatest fear, slain the dragon, or weathered the crisis of the heart, and now earns the Reward that he has sought. The Hero's Reward comes in many forms: a magical sword, an elixir, greater knowledge or insight, reconciliation with a lover. Whatever the treasure, the Hero has earned the right to celebrate. The Hero may have earned the Reward outright, or the Hero may have seen no option but to steal it. The Hero may rationalize this Elixir theft, having paid for it with the tests and ordeals thus far. But the consequences of the theft must be confronted as the Shadow forces race to reclaim the Elixir that must not see the light of the Ordinary World." The Road Back: "The Hero must finally recommit to completing the Journey and accept the Road Back to the Ordinary World. A Hero's success in the Special World may make it difficult to return. Like Crossing the Threshold, The Road Back needs an event that will push the Hero through the Threshold, back into the Ordinary World. The Event should re-establish the Central Dramatic Question, pushing the Hero to action and heightening the stakes. The Road Back may be a moment when the Hero must choose between the Journey of a Higher Cause verses the personal Journey of the Heart." Resurrection: "The Hero faces the Resurrection, his most dangerous meeting with death. This final life-or-death Ordeal shows that the Hero has maintained and can apply all that he has brought back to the
Ordinary World. This Ordeal and Resurrection can represent a "cleansing" or purification that must occur now that the Hero has emerged from the land of the dead. The Hero is reborn or transformed with the attributes of the Ordinary self in addition to the lessons and insights from the characters he has met along the road. The Resurrection may be a physical Ordeal, or final showdown between the Hero and the Shadow. This battle is for much more than the Hero's life. Other lives, or an entire world may be at stake and the Hero must now prove that he has achieved Heroic status and willingly accept his sacrifice for the benefit of the Ordinary World. Other Allies may come to the last minute rescue to lend assistance, but in the end the Hero must rise to the sacrifice at hand. He must deliver the blow that destroys the Death Star (Star Wars), or offer his hand and accept the "magic" elixir of love." Return with the Elixir: "The Return with the Elixir is the final Reward earned on the Hero's Journey. The Hero has been resurrected, purified and has earned the right to be accepted back into the Ordinary World and share the Elixir of the Journey. The true Hero returns with an Elixir to share with others or heal a wounded land. The Elixir can be a great treasure or magic potion. It could be love, wisdom, or simply the experience of having survived the Special World. Even the tragic end of a Hero's Journey can yield the best elixir of all, granting the audience greater awareness of us and our world (Citizen Kane)." To recap the Hero's journey: Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but are encouraged by a MENTOR to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold where they endure the ORDEAL. They take possession of their REWARD and are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World. While Vogler breaks down the Journey into 7 and 12, there are some additional ways of looking at the Journey: As a dance of Unity. As a Journey of Separation and a return to Unity Beginning - Middle - End Journey to the Four Corners of the Earth. The Seven Stages of Spiritual Unfoldment. Also, The seven chakras, the seven holy planets. From Fool to Sage - Completion of the series 0..9 Also, the Ten Spheres on the Tree of Life. The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac. Also, the twelve basic personality types.
All the Archetypes. 22 Keys of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. alphabet.
22 letters of the Hebrew
References: 1: Excerpts from MYTH AND THE MOVIES ISBN 0-941188-66-3 Reprinted with permission by Michael Wiese Productions www.mwp.com (800-833-5738 or 818-379-8799) Copyright 1999 Stuart Voytilla 2: Excerpts from THE WRITER'S JOURNEY ISBN 0941188701 Reprinted with permission by Michael Wiese Productions www.mwp.com (800-833-5738 or 818-379-8799) Copyright 1998 Christopher Vogler
Campbell Inciting Incident
Can be separate and distinct from the Call to Adventure. Can be used as a tool to introduce the antagonism, the push-force, develop context, polarisation and more: In Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire (2005), we initially meet Voldemort in Harry's dream. In Shrek (2001), the cartoon characters are being rounded up. In Star Wars(1977), Vader et al kidnap Leia; we learn about the Empire versus the Rebellion.
Ordinary World and Ordinary Self
Where we learn crucial details about the Hero, his or her True Nature, capabilities and more:
In Gladiator (2000), Maximus takes time to feel the tall grass. In War of the Worlds (2005), we meet Ray Ferrier at work and at home. In Annie Hall (1977), Alvie Singer worries about everything in New York. In Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Axel is a cop in Detroit.
Call to Adventure
Where the Hero is incited to leave the Ordinary World. Often brought by a Herald; Much happens here: In Star Wars(1977), R2 relays Leia's message to Luke. In The Matrix (1999), Trinity tells Neo he is really searching for the Matrix. In Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Axel is motivated by Mikey's assassination. In Back to the Future (1985), Doc calls and tells Marty to be at Twin Pines Falls.
Interdiction / Refusal of the Call
Resistances, obstacles, attachments and other issues impede movement out of the Ordinary World. Doves, Interdictors and Interdictions are not uncommon: In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Marcus warns Indy about the dangers of the Ark. In The Incredibles (2004), Mr Incredible resists not being allowed to be a superhero. The government, Elastigirl and his boss are Interdictors.
In Get Carter (1971), Carter's boss warns of the northern gangs. In Gladiator (2000), Maximus does not want to take Marcus Aurelius' place.
Magical Mentors and gifts provide guidance and assist the overcoming of hurdles. It is not uncommon for the Hero to encounter multiple Mentors at various stages of the Journey; most commonly there is a Threshold Mentor and a Transformation Mentor. In Million Dollar Baby (2004), Maggie needs Frankie to start winning. In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke needs Yoda to tech him the ways of the Force. In Raging Bull (1980), Vickie lures Jake away from his wife and Ordinary World. In Gladiator (2000), Marcus Aurelius pushes Maximus forward and Proximo transforms him from soldier to gladiator.
The First Threshold has many functions. This is a place of significant, but not deep, change: In Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Lawrence gains the king's trust. In The Matrix (1999), Neo learns martial arts. In Raging Bull (1980), Jake and Vickie become an item.
In Planet of the Apes (1968), Taylor et al discover this is an ape planet.
Belly of the Whale
The Belly of the Whale has many functions. This is a form of Netherworld where the Hero is encouraged to venture into the Deeper New World: In Dances with Wolves (1990), John Dunbar is resists entering the village. In Superman (1978), Clarke builds a house in the North Pole and Jor-El teaches him about his history, home planet and Earth. In The Harder they Fall (1956), this is where Art tells Eddie what he's getting into. In Thelma and Louise (1991), this is when Thelma takes her time deciding whether to go with Louise or not.
Where the Hero is (often) forced, pushed or pulled into the Deeper New World: In Star Wars (1977), Luke et al have to blast their way out of Mos Isley. In Gladiator (2000), Maximus is taken away by the slave caravan. In Syriana (2005), Prince Nasir repeatedly calls Bryan. In King King (2005), Carl forces the ship to leave with Jack on it.
The Transformation Mentor may be the same or separate and distinct from the Supernatural Aid. One responsibility of the Transformation Mentor is to guide the Hero through the Trials: In Gladiator (2000), Proximo sees to it that Maximus becomes a Gladiator. In Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Mamaha is responsible for Sayuri's transformation into Geisha. In King Kong (2005), it is King Kong that causes the transformation.
Trials, Transformation and The Great Cave Complex
The Hero, reluctantly or willingly, begins the partial dissolution of the Old Self. A good understanding of this section can carry the screenwriter through the major sections of a screenplay: In Goodfellas (1990), Karen meets the wives. In Educating Rita (1983), Rita transforms into a student. In Al Pacino Scarface (1983), Tony establishes himself as a dope dealer. In Erin Brockovich (1999), Erin becomes the centre-piece of the case against PG&E. This stage of the Journey encompasses nine to twelve major parts of the Great Cave Complex. Outer, Middle
and Inner Caves represent the three stages of an Initiation - also known as separation, transition, and incorporation or similar. Often four stages may be explicit: separation, transition, incorporation and demonstration. In The Matrix (1999), Neo's physical growth is a three stage process: first he learns various martial arts through computer simulation, then in hand-to-hand combat with Morpheus and then he undergoes the real-live test (jumping the building). In Thelma and Louise (1991), Thelma is hit on by Harlan, gets drunk with Harlan, is almost raped by Harlan. Then is shot by Louise.
Meeting the Oracle and Ideal
Where the Hero learns of an Ideal, the Sword and the need to seize it. The Sword is the tangible representation of the Ideal. The Ideal can (often) be described as altruistic as the Hero will (often) have to disregard his Own Self. Implicit in the Ideal is the concept of sacrifice. Also see Seizing the Sword In Carlito's Way (1993), Carlito helps Kleinfeld out of loyalty. In The Godfather (1972), Michael sees Appollonia. In Spiderman 2 (2004), the doctor tells Peter Parker that he has a choice.
Where the Hero is consciously or not, willingly or not, separated from all or many crucial Allies or Enemies, where ideals diverge and more: In King Kong (2005), Jack leaves everyone behind in order to rescue Ann. In Star Wars (1977), Luke leaves R2 and C3PO behind. In Syriana (2005), Bennett goes alone to retrieve the note. In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Obi Wan and Yoda cannot help Luke if he goes to rescue Han et al.
Journey to the Sword
Includes obstacles, dangers, foreboding, pessimism, entering a New World and much more: In King Kong (2005), Jacks journey to Ann is perilous. In Star Wars (1977), Hans thinks rescuing Leia is suicidal. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), rescuing Edmund involves entering the White Witches lair.
Seizing the Sword
The Sword is a tangible that represents a number of intangibles and is a significant, but not complete, stage of transformation. In The Godfather (1972), Michael marries Apollonia and becomes a de facto Sicilian.
In A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), Juan takes out the bridge and becomes a de facto rebel. In Scarface (1983), Tony takes over Frank's empire and becomes the boss.
Night Sea Journey
One function of the Night Sea Journey is to attain a Magical Gift from the Old (Another) World, In Dances with Wolves (1990), John goes back to the fort to dig out the guns. In Rambo (1984), Rambo steals the truck with the explosives. In Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2004), Frodo is saved by the magical vest.
Near Death Experience
Death is a prelude to Rebirth. In An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), Worley commits suicide. In Unforgiven (1992), Clint Eastwood is beaten to a pulp by Gene Hackman. In A Fistful of Dynamite (1972), Dr. Villega is captured, tortured and forced to reveal the identities of his associates. John recalls his back-story and a similar situation in Ireland. Rod Steiger faces an execution at the hands of a firing squad.
Where the complete New Self comes into being. In Dances with Wolves (1990), John Dunbar wears the complete Sioux uniform. In The Harder they Fall (1956), Toro now speaks English fluently. In Syriana (2005), Arash says goodbye to his father and becomes the archetypal suicide bomber.
Shape Shifter Revealed and The Red Herring
The Shape Shifter's True Nature may be revealed; where Red Herrings are played out. In The Incredibles (2004), this is where Mirage helps the Incredible family escape. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), this is where Edmund reveals that he is really wants to be part of the family. In Syriana (2005), this is where we don't know whether it is Whiting that will be sacrificed.
Atonement with the Father
There are many aspects of this and it can be interpreted in many ways, one being: an incompatibility (re)surfaces between the New Self and the Old Self. In Dances with Wolves (1990), John has become a fully fledged Sioux, yet he
knows the white man will come and number "as many as the stars." In Out of Africa (1985), Karen wants Denys not to keep disappearing. In Casablanca (1943), Victor tells Rick what he would do for Ilsa.
There are many aspects of this and it can be interpreted in many ways. One element of it is the seminal insight , an illumination, an epiphany: In Casablanca (1943), Rick's insight is that if you love someone, you sacrifice yourself for their happiness. That sacrifice can include selling your most prized material possessions (he sells his bar), allowing your love to find happiness in another's arms (he ultimately allows Ilsa to be with Victor), physical suffering (it is likely that his ultimate actions will see him to a concentration camp), leaving dear friends (he will have to leave Sam behind) and forced exile from home and heart (he will have to leave Casablanca). He learns this insight from both Ilsa and Victor, who are prepared to do the same for each other. In The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Andy Dufresne's apotheosis is that you either get busy living or you get busy dying. He reaches that insight in the scene by the prison wall with Red (Morgan Freeman), but it is preceeded by the earlier insight that he will never get out of prison (Warden Norton will never let him go). In Al Pacino Scarface (1983), Tony Montana's insight is that the rewards of the path he's chosen are not worth the
spiritual price he is paying, expressed with the words (in the restaurant scene): "is this it? Is that what it's all about Manny? Eating, drinking, fucking, sucking," "no free rides in this world kid," "I lost my appetite," "is that what I worked for? With these hands? Is that what I killed for? For this?" In Alien (1979), Ripley's apotheosis arrives during the conversation with Ash, the revived android. He tells her that the alien cannot be destroyed and that the military want it - this horror will be unleashed on the Earth unless she destroys it and the only way to do that is to nuke the Nostromo. In Spiderman 2 (2004), Peter Parker comes to realise the value of being Spiderman and the price he must pay for the gift - give up Mary Jane.
There are many aspects of this and it can be interpreted in many ways. One element of it is synergy: In The Dirty Dozen (1967), Lee Marvin's challenge is to make his men operate as an effective unit. When Charles Bronson et al attain synergy - they overpower the Major's men in the war games sequence. The whole second act is constructed around the need to reach synergy. In Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Axel Foley, Taggart, Rosewood and Bogomil finally begin working together to tackle Victor Maitland. In Alien (1979), Ripley and Parker initially antagonise each other. After their Apotheosis (that the military wants the Alien, it cannot be destroyed and that
they are expendable), Parker and Lambert quickly fall into line under Ripley's command.
Disgust and Refusal (of the Return)
There are many aspects of this and it can be interpreted in many ways. One element of it is: refusal to be pushed out of the New World and away from the New Self: In Dances with Wolves (1990), Stands with a fist refuses to let John go back to the fort to collect his diary. In Erin Brockovoch (1999), Erin refuses to give up the case to Kirk Potter and his team. There is also disgust with the New Self: In Y Tu Mama Tambien (2000), the boys throw up after having slept together.
This is the physical flight from the New World and New Self and contains an air of the supernatural. Often the Hero is pursued or pursues. In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indy swims to the submarine. In Ali (2000), Ali runs through the village and sees the images of himself. In Knocked Up (2007), the boys go to Vegas.
Rescue from Without
The World pulls the Hero back. There are a number of variations, including: In A Wonderful Life (1946), Clarence rescues and shows George Bailey what the world would have been like without him. In Spiderman (2000), the Green Goblin kidnaps Mary Jane. In Thelma and Louise (1991), Hal and the FBI catch up with the girls. In The Harder they Fall (1956), Eddie persuades Toro to fight until he is paid.
Crossing of the Return Threshold
Elements include: Time Pressure. Bond only has so long before the nukes explode. The Hero will venture to a dangerous place. In Spiderman (2000), the battle takes place high up above the water. The overwhelming magnitude of the task will be noted. In Star Wars (1977), the Rebellion's fighter pilots are in awe of the Death Star, “look at the size of that thing.”
The Final Conflict is so important and contains so many critical aspects that it is astounding that it is rarely given mention. This follows a familiar and similar pattern across genres. It encompasses Multiple Catharses, Impossible Dilemma, Polarization, Unbearable Antagonism, Surpassing Peers, False Heroes, Hand-to-Hand Battle and much more. In Annie Hall (1977), Alvie confronts Annie. In Gladiator (2000), Commodus and Maximus battle. In When Harry met Sally (2007), Harry runs to tell Sally he loves her. In Die Hard (1988), John takes on Hans.
Master of the Two Worlds and Selves
There are many aspects of this and it can be interpreted in many ways. One element of it is: The New Self must confront the Old Self. In The Godfather (1972), Michael tells Kay that he did not kill Carlo. In Dances with Wolves (1990), John must leave the Sioux to spread the message to anyone who will listen In Educating Rita (1983), Rita recognises Dr Bryant's contribution to who she is. Here, the Hero has the ability to traverse both the Worlds. In The Matrix (1999), Neo can stop and play with the bullets. In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indy tries to warn the government of the power of the Ark.
Freedom to Live
Balance is restored. Quite a good Freedom to Live sequence can be found in Elisabethtown (2005). In Alien (1979), Ripley relaxes and smiles with Jones the cat. In Blade Runner (1982), Roy allows the bird to fly free. In Raging Bull (1980), Jake pours champagne out over a mountain of glasses.
Once the Hero has restored balance, his or her story may not end: The Reign, The Fall, the New Journey, The Ascendance, rise to Supernatural Aid or Mentor status, The Death, The Legend, The Rebirth and more all are often appended to the beginning or ending of stories: In Raging Bull (1980), much happens after Jake retires from Boxing. In Out of Africa (1985), we learn of Denys' grave, the lions and more. In Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan has a particular type of final reign.
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