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Heros journey

The Heros Journey redirects here. For other uses, see is too broad or general to be of much usefulness in com-
The Heros Journey (disambiguation). parative mythology. Others say that the heros journey is
In narratology and comparative mythology, the mono- only a part of the Monomyth. The other part is a sort of
dierent form, or color, of the heros journey.

Call to
Adventure Supernatural
1 Terminology
Return aid

(Gift of Threshold
the Goddess) KNOWN Guardian(s) Campbell borrowed the word monomyth from Joyces
UNKNOWN Threshold Finnegans Wake (1939). Campbell was a notable scholar
(beginning of
transformation) of James Joyce's work and with A Skeleton Key to

The Helper
Finnegans Wake (1944) co-authored the seminal anal-
ysis of Joyces nal novel.[3] Campbells singular the
monomyth implies that the heros journey is the ul-
timate narrative archetype, but the term monomyth has
Journey occasionally been used more generally, as a term for a
mythological archetype or a supposed mytheme that re-
occurs throughout the worlds cultures.[4] Omry Ronen
Abyss referred to Vyacheslav Ivanov's treatment of Dionysus as
death & rebirth
an avatar of Christ (1904) as Ivanovs monomyth.[5]
The phrase the heros journey, used in reference to
Campbells monomyth, rst entered into popular dis-
The twelve stages of the heros journey monomyth following the
summary by Christopher Vogler (originally compiled in 1985 as course through two documentaries. The rst, released in
a Disney studio memo): 1. The Ordinary World, 2. The Call to 1987, The Heros Journey: The World of Joseph Camp-
Adventure, 3. Refusal of the Call, 4. Meeting with the Mentor, 5. bell, was accompanied by a 1990 companion book, The
Crossing the Threshold to the special world, 6. Tests, Allies and Heros Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work
Enemies, 7. Approach to the Innermost Cave, 8. The Ordeal, 9. (with Phil Cousineau and Stuart Brown, eds.). The sec-
Reward, 10. The Road Back, 11. The Resurrection, 12. Return ond was Bill Moyers's series of seminal interviews with
with the Elixir. Campbell, released in 1988 as the documentary (and
companion book) The Power of Myth. Cousineau in the
myth, or the heros journey, is the common template of introduction to the revised edition of The Heros Journey
a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on wrote the monomyth is in eect a metamyth, a philo-
an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and sophical reading of the unity of mankinds spiritual his-
then comes home changed or transformed.[1] tory, the Story behind the story.[6]
The concept was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The
Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), who described the
basic narrative pattern as follows: 2 Summary
A hero ventures forth from the world of Campbell describes 17 stages of the monomyth. Not all
common day into a region of supernatural won- monomyths necessarily contain all 17 stages explicitly;
der: fabulous forces are there encountered and some myths may focus on only one of the stages, while
a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back others may deal with the stages in a somewhat dier-
from this mysterious adventure with the power ent order. In the terminology of Claude Lvi-Strauss, the
to bestow boons on his fellow man.[2] stages are the individual mythemes which are bundled
or assembled into the structure of the monomyth.[7]
Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann, de- The 17 stages may be organized in a number of ways,
scribe narratives of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ including division into three acts or sections:
in terms of the monomyth. Critics argue that the concept I. Departure (also Separation),


II. Initiation (sometimes subdivided into IIA. Descent and 3.1.1 The Call to Adventure
IIB. Initiation) and
III. Return. The hero begins in a situation of normality from which
some information is received that acts as a call to head
In the Departure part of the narrative, the hero or
o into the unknown.
protagonist lives in the ordinary world and receives a call
to go on an adventure. The hero is reluctant to follow the Campbell: "... a forest, a kingdom underground, be-
call, but is helped by a mentor gure. neath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty
mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is al-
The Initiation section begins with the hero then traversing
ways a place of strangely uid and polymorphous beings,
the threshold to the unknown or special world, where he
unimaginable torments, super human deeds, and impos-
faces tasks or trials, either alone or with the assistance of
sible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to
accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived
The hero eventually reaches the innermost cave or the in his fathers city, Athens, and heard the horrible history
central crisis of his adventure, where he must undergo of the Minotaur; or he may be carried or sent abroad by
the ordeal where he overcomes the main obstacle or en- some benign or malignant agent as was Odysseus, driven
emy, undergoing "apotheosis" and gaining his reward (a about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god,
treasure or "elixir"). Poseidon. The adventure may begin as a mere blunder...
The hero must then return to the ordinary world with his or still again, one may be only casually strolling when
reward. He may be pursued by the guardians of the spe- some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and
cial world, or he may be reluctant to return, and may be lures one away from the frequented paths of man. Exam-
rescued or forced to return by intervention from the out- ples might be multiplied, ad innitum, from every corner
side. of the world.

In the Return section, the hero again traverses the thresh-

old between the worlds, returning to the ordinary world 3.1.2 Refusal of the Call
with the treasure or elixir he gained, which he may now
use for the benet of his fellow man. The hero himself is Often when the call is given, the future hero rst refuses
transformed by the adventure and gains wisdom or spiri- to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obliga-
tual power over both worlds. tion, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a
range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her
Campbells approach has been very widely received in
current circumstances.
narratology, mythography and psychotherapy, especially
since the 1980s, and a number of variant summaries of Campbell: Refusal of the summons converts the ad-
the basic structure have been published. The general venture into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work,
structure of Campbells exposition has been noted before or 'culture,' the subject loses the power of signicant af-
and described in similar terms in comparative mythol- rmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His
ogy of the 19th and early 20th century, notably by Rus- owering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and
sian folkorist Vladimir Propp who divided the structure his life feels meaninglesseven though, like King Mi-
of Russian folk tales into 31 functions.[8] nos, he may through titanic eort succeed in building an
empire or renown. Whatever house he builds, it will be
The pattern is closely followed in many of the worlds
a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide
spiritual narratives, in shamanism, initiation rites,
from him his minotaur. All he can do is create new prob-
mystery religions (descent to the underworld), and in the
lems for himself and await the gradual approach of his
mythologies of the worlds major religious or spiritual
systems, including the stories of Gautama Buddha, Moses
or Jesus.
3.1.3 Supernatural Aid

Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or

3 Campbells seventeen stages unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or
becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural
Main article: The Hero with a Thousand Faces mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans
or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.
The following is a more detailed account of Campbells Campbell: For those who have not refused the call, the
original 1949 exposition of the monomyth in 17 stages. rst encounter of the hero journey is with a protective
gure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides
the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he
3.1 Departure is about to pass. What such a gure represents is the
benign, protecting power of destiny. The fantasy is a
3.2 Initiation 3

reassurancepromise that the peace of Paradise, which ward, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds
was known rst within the mother womb, is not to be lost; to the passing of a worshipper into a templewhere he is
that it supports the present and stands in the future as well to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is,
as in the past (is omega as well as alpha); that though om- namely dust and ashes unless immortal. The temple inte-
nipotence may seem to be endangered by the threshold rior, the belly of the whale, and the heavenly land beyond,
passages and life awakenings, protective power is always above, and below the connes of the world, are one and
and ever present within or just behind the unfamiliar fea- the same. That is why the approaches and entrances to
tures of the world. One has only to know and trust, and temples are anked and defended by colossal gargoyles:
the ageless guardians will appear. Having responded to dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resent-
his own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the ful dwarfs, winged bulls. The devotee at the moment of
consequences unfold, the hero nds all the forces of the entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis. Once
unconscious at his side. Mother Nature herself supports inside he may be said to have died to time and returned
the mighty task. And in so far as the heros act coincides to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Par-
with that for which his society is ready, he seems to ride adise. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and
on the great rhythm of the historical process. the hero-dive through the jaws of the whale are identical
adventures, both denoting in picture language, the life-
centering, life-renewing act.
3.1.4 Crossing the Threshold

This is the point where the person actually crosses into 3.2 Initiation
the eld of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or
her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous 3.2.1 The Road of Trials
realm where the rules and limits are not known.
Campbell: With the personications of his destiny to The road of trials is a series of tests that the person must
guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adven- undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person
ture until he comes to the 'threshold guardian' at the en- fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in
trance to the zone of magnied power. Such custodians threes.
bound the world in four directions also up and down Campbell: Once having traversed the threshold, the
standing for the limits of the heros present sphere, or hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously uid, am-
life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and biguous forms, where he must survive a succession of tri-
danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the als. This is a favorite phase of the myth-adventure. It has
infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to produced a world literature of miraculous tests and or-
the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than deals. The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets,
content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met
bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that
so much as the rst step into the unexplored. The adven- he here discovers for the rst time that there is a benign
ture is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman pas-
of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at sage. The original departure into the land of trials repre-
the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; sented only the beginning of the long and really perilous
yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger path of initiatory conquests and moments of illumina-
fades. tion. Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers
passed again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will
be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ec-
3.1.5 Belly of the Whale stasies and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land.

The belly of the whale represents the nal separation from

the heros known world and self. By entering this stage,
the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorpho- 3.2.2 The Meeting with the Goddess
Campbell: The idea that the passage of the magical This is the point when the person experiences a love that
threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbol- has the power and signicance of the all-powerful, all
ized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant
whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating may experience with his or her mother. This is a very
the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown important step in the process and is often represented by
and would appear to have died. This popular motif gives the person nding the other person that he or she loves
emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is most completely.
a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, Campbell: The ultimate adventure, when all the bar-
beyond the connes of the visible world, the hero goes in- riers and ogres have been overcome, is commonly repre-

sented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul Campbell: Atonement consists in no more than the
with the Queen Goddess of the World. This is the crisis at abandonment of that self-generated double monster
the nadir, the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, the dragon thought to be God (superego) and the dragon
at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the thought to be Sin (repressed id). But this requires an
temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of abandonment of the attachment to ego itself, and that is
the heart. The meeting with the goddess (who is incar- what is dicult. One must have a faith that the father is
nate in every woman) is the nal test of the talent of the merciful, and then a reliance on that mercy. Therewith,
hero to win the boon of love (charity: amor fati), which the center of belief is transferred outside of the bedevil-
is life itself enjoyed as the encasement of eternity. And ing gods tight scaly ring, and the dreadful ogres dissolve.
when the adventurer, in this context, is not a youth but It is in this ordeal that the hero may derive hope and as-
a maid, she is the one who, by her qualities, her beauty, surance from the helpful female gure, by whose magic
or her yearning, is t to become the consort of an im- (pollen charms or power of intercession) he is protected
mortal. Then the heavenly husband descends to her and through all the frightening experiences of the fathers ego-
conducts her to his bedwhether she will or not. And if shattering initiation. For if it is impossible to trust the
she has shunned him, the scales fall from her eyes; if she terrifying father-face, then ones faith must be centered
has sought him, her desire nds its peace. elsewhere (Spider Woman, Blessed Mother); and with
that reliance for support, one endures the crisisonly to
nd, in the end, that the father and mother reect each
3.2.3 Woman as Temptress other, and are in essence the same. The problem of the
hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond
In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a
terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand
physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her
how the sickening and insane tragedies of this vast and
to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not
ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty
necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman
of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar blind
is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of
spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source.
life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from
He beholds the face of the father, understandsand the
his spiritual journey.
two are atoned.
Campbell: The crux of the curious diculty lies in the
fact that our conscious views of what life ought to be sel-
dom correspond to what life really is. Generally we refuse 3.2.5 Apotheosis
to admit within ourselves, or within our friends, the full-
ness of that pushing, self-protective, malodorous, carniv- When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self
orous, lecherous fever which is the very nature of the or- to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of op-
ganic cell. Rather, we tend to perfume, whitewash, and posites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion
reinterpret; meanwhile imagining that all the ies in the and bliss. A more mundane way of looking at this step is
ointment, all the hairs in the soup, are the faults of some that it is a period of rest, peace and fulllment before the
unpleasant someone else. But when it suddenly dawns on hero begins the return.
us, or is forced to our attention that everything we think or Campbell: Those who know, not only that the Ever-
do is necessarily tainted with the odor of the esh, then, lasting lies in them, but that what they, and all things, re-
not uncommonly, there is experienced a moment of re- ally are is the Everlasting, dwell in the groves of the wish
vulsion: life, the acts of life, the organs of life, woman in fullling trees, drink the brew of immortality, and listen
particular as the great symbol of life, become intolerable everywhere to the unheard music of eternal concord.
to the pure, the pure, pure soul. The seeker of the life
beyond life must press beyond (the woman), surpass the
temptations of her call, and soar to the immaculate ether 3.2.6 The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the
quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All
3.2.4 Atonement with the Father
the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by for this step, since in many myths the boon is something
whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that
many myths and stories this is the father, or a father gure supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
who has life and death power. This is the center point of Campbell: The gods and goddesses then are to be un-
the journey. All the previous steps have been moving into derstood as embodiments and custodians of the elixir of
this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although Imperishable Being but not themselves the Ultimate in
this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter its primary state. What the hero seeks through his inter-
with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just course with them is therefore not nally themselves, but
someone or thing with incredible power. their grace, i.e., the power of their sustaining substance.
3.3 Return 5

This miraculous energy-substance and this alone is the 3.3.3 Rescue from Without
Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who ev-
erywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out
go. This is the miraculous energy of the thunderbolts of on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides
Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, espe-
the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell cially if the person has been wounded or weakened by
rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the the experience.
ultimate illumination of the saint and sage. Its guardians
Campbell: The hero may have to be brought back from
dare release it only to the duly proven.
his supernatural adventure by assistance from without.
That is to say, the world may have to come and get him.
For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned
in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state. 'Who
3.3 Return having cast o the world,' we read, 'would desire to re-
turn again? He would be only there.' And yet, in so far
3.3.1 Refusal of the Return as one is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those
who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the
Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, door. If the hero. . . is unwilling, the disturber suers an
the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to ugly shock; but on the other hand, if the summoned one
bestow the boon onto his fellow man. is only delayedsealed in by the beatitude of the state
of perfect being (which resembles death)an apparent
Campbell: When the hero-quest has been accom-
rescue is eected, and the adventurer returns.
plished, through penetration to the source, or through the
grace of some male or female, human or animal, per-
sonication, the adventurer still must return with his life- 3.3.4 The Crossing of the Return Threshold
transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the mon-
omyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on
of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and
his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, then maybe gure out how to share the wisdom with the
where the boon may redound to the renewing of the com- rest of the world.
munity, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds.
But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even Campbell: The returning hero, to complete his adven-
Gautama Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether ture, must survive the impact of the world. Many failures
the message of realization could be communicated, and attest to the diculties of this life-armative threshold.
saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ec- The rst problem of the returning hero is to accept as
stasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have real, after an experience of the soul-satisfying vision of
taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unag- fulllment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and
ing Goddess of Immortal Being. noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world?
Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to
men and women consumed with passion, the experience
of transcendental bliss? As dreams that were momen-
3.3.2 The Magic Flight tous by night may seem simply silly in the light of day,
so the poet and the prophet can discover themselves play-
ing the idiot before a jury of sober eyes. The easy thing
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is
is to commit the whole community to the devil and re-
something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It
tire again into the heavenly rock dwelling, close the door,
can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from
and make it fast. But if some spiritual obstetrician has
the journey as it was to go on it.
drawn the shimenawa across the retreat, then the work of
Campbell: If the hero in his triumph wins the bless- representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eter-
ing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly com- nity, cannot be avoided The hero returns to the world of
missioned to return to the world with some elixir for the common day and must accept it as real.
restoration of society, the nal stage of his adventure is
supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron.
On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against 3.3.5 Master of Two Worlds
the opposition of its guardian, or if the heros wish to
return to the world has been resented by the gods or This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero
demons, then the last stage of the mythological round be- like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may
comes a lively, often comical, pursuit. This ight may be mean achieving a balance between the material and spiri-
complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and eva- tual. The person has become comfortable and competent
sion. in both the inner and outer worlds.

Campbell: Freedom to pass back and forth across the ing in response to Campbells lmed presentation of his
world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of model[16] characterized it as "...unsatisfying from a so-
time to that of the causal deep and backnot contami- cial science perspective. Campbells ethnocentrism will
nating the principles of the one with those of the other, raise objections, and his analytic level is so abstract and
yet permitting the mind to know the one by virtue of the devoid of ethnographic context that myth loses the very
otheris the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, meanings supposed to be embedded in the 'hero.'" In Sa-
declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, cred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth (1984),
but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to an- editor Alan Dundes dismisses Campbells work, charac-
other. It is possible to speak from only one point at a time, terizing him as a popularizer: like most universalists, he
but that does not invalidate the insights of the rest. The is content to merely assert universality rather than bother
individual, through prolonged psychological disciplines, to document it. [] If Campbells generalizations about
gives up completely all attachment to his personal limi- myth are not substantiated, why should students consider
tations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears, no longer resists his work?"[17]
the self-annihilation that is prerequisite to rebirth in theIn a similar vein, American philosopher John Shelton
realization of truth, and so becomes ripe, at last, for the
Lawrence and American religious scholar Robert Jew-
great at-one-ment. His personal ambitions being totally ett have discussed an American Monomyth in many of
dissolved, he no longer tries to live but willingly relaxes their books, The American Monomyth, The Myth of the
to whatever may come to pass in him; he becomes, that American Superhero, and Captain America and the Cru-
is to say, an anonymity.[12] sade Against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism.
They present this as an American reaction to the Camp-
3.3.6 Freedom to Live bellian monomyth. The American Monomyth storyline
is: A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat;
turn is the freedom to live.[citation needed] This is some- a seless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and
times referred to as living in the moment, neither antici- carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive
pating the future nor regretting the past. victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condi-
tion; the superhero then recedes into obscurity.[12]
Campbell: The hero is the champion of things becom-
ing, not of things become, because he is. Before Abra- The monomyth has also been criticized for focusing on
ham was, I AM. He does not mistake apparent change- the masculine journey. From Girl to Goddess: The Hero-
lessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he ines Journey through Myth and Legend (2010), by Va-
fearful of the next moment (or of the 'other thing'), as lerie Estelle Frankel, sets out what Frankel considers the
destroying the permanent with its change. 'Nothing re- steps of the female heros journey, which is dierent from
tains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever Campbells monomyth.
makes up forms from forms. Be sure theres nothing per- According to, "[Campbells] much
ishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew admired and much-copied pattern has also been criticized
its form.' Thus the next moment is permitted to come to as leading to 'safe' moviemaking, in which writers use his
pass. [17] structure as a template, thus leading to 'boring' repeats,
albeit in dierent clothes.[19]

4 Criticism
5 Popular culture
Scholars have questioned the validity or usefulness of the
monomyth category. In 1977, The American Monomyth identied a monomyth
template specic to the conventions of works of ction in
According to Northup (2006), mainstream scholarship
American popular culture:
of comparative mythology since Campbell has moved
away from highly general and universal categories in
A community in a harmonious paradise is
general.[13] This attitude is illustrated by e.g. Consentino
threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to
(1998), who remarks It is just as important to stress
contend with this threat; a seless superhero
dierences as similarities, to avoid creating a (Joseph)
emerges to renounce temptations and carry out
Campbell soup of myths that loses all local avor.[14]
the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive
Similarly, Ellwood (1999) stated A tendency to think
victory restores the community to its paradisi-
in generic terms of people, races ... is undoubtedly the
acal condition; the superhero then recedes into
profoundest aw in mythological thinking.[15]
Others have found the categories Campbell works with
so vague as to be meaningless, and lacking the support In two later books, The Myth of the American Superhero
required of scholarly argument: Crespi (1990), writ- (2002) and Captain America And The Crusade Against

Evil: The Dilemma Of Zealous Nationalism (2003), the Science ction author David Brin in a 1999 Salon arti-
authors extend the thesis by using examples from both cle criticized the monomyth template as supportive of
American popular culture and the American religious tra- despotism and tyranny, indicating that he thinks mod-
dition. ern popular ction should strive to depart from it in order
The monomyth concept has been very popular in Amer- to support more progressivist values.
ican literary studies and writing guides since at least
the 1970s. Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood lm pro-
ducer and writer, created a 7-page company memo, A 6 Self-help movement and therapy
Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces,[20]
based on Campbells work. Voglers memo was later Poet Robert Bly, Michael J. Meade, and others involved
developed into the late 1990s book, The Writers Jour- in the mens movement have applied and expanded the
ney: Mythic Structure For Writers. George Lucas' Star concepts of the heros journey and the monomyth as a
Wars (1977) was notably classied as monomyth al- metaphor for personal spiritual and psychological growth,
most as soon as it came out.[21] Numerous other works particularly in the mythopoetic mens movement.[38][39]
of popular ction have been forwarded as examples of
the monomyth template, including Spensers The Fairie Characteristic of the mythopoetic mens movement is a
Queene,[22] Melvilles Moby Dick,[23] Charlotte Bront's tendency to retell fairy tales and engage in their exege-
Jane Eyre,[24] works by Charles Dickens, Faulkner, sis as a tool for personal insight. Using frequent refer-
Maugham, J. D. Salinger,[25] Hemingway,[26] Mark ences to archetypes as drawn from Jungian analytical psy-
Twain,[27] W. B. Yeats,[28] C. S. Lewis,[29] and J. R. chology, the movement focuses on issues of gender [39]
[30] [31]
R. Tolkien, Seamus Heaney and Stephen King, [32] gender identity and wellness for modern men. Advo-
among numerous others. cates would often engage in storytelling with music, these
acts being seen as a modern extension to a form of "new
In addition to the extensive discussion between Campbell age shamanism" popularized by Michael Harner at ap-
and Bill Moyers broadcast in 1988 on PBS as The Power proximately the same time.
of Myth (Filmed at "Skywalker Ranch"), on Campbells
inuence on the Star Wars lms, Lucas himself gave an Among its most famous advocates were the poet Robert
extensive interview for the biography Joseph Campbell: Bly, whose book Iron John: A Book About Men was a
A Fire in the Mind (Larsen and Larsen, 2002, pages 541- best-seller, being an exegesis [38]
of the fairy tale "Iron John"
543) on this topic. In this interview, Lucas states that in by the Brothers Grimm.
the early 1970s after completing his early lm, American The mythopoetic mens movement spawned a variety of
Grati, it came to me that there really was no modern groups and workshops, led by authors such as Bly and
use of thats when I started doing more Robert L. Moore.[39] Some serious academic work came
strenuous research on fairy tales, folklore and mythology, out of this movement, including the creation of vari-
and I started reading Joes books. Before that I hadn't ous magazines and non-prot organizations, such as the
read any of Joes books.... It was very eerie because in Mankind Project.[38]
reading The Hero with A Thousand Faces I began to real-
ize that my rst draft of Star Wars was following classical
motifs"(p. 541). Twelve years after the making of The 6.1 Bibliotherapy
Power of Myth, Moyers and Lucas met again for the 1999
interview, the Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas The monomyth, or heros journey, can help people
& Bill Moyers, to further discuss the impact of Campbells suering from adjustment disorder cope with new life
work on Lucass lms.[33] In addition, the National Air transitions.[40] Using bibliotherapy to help patients with
and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution spon- adjustment disorder is a ve-stage process: Introduction
sored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: of concepts, selection of text, identication and projec-
The Magic of Myth which discussed the ways in which tion, abreaction and catharsis, and insight and integration.
Campbells work shaped the Star Wars lms[34] A com-
Introduction of the concepts is talking to the patient about
panion guide of the same name was published in 1997.
bibliotherapy as well as archetypes and the heros journey.
While Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) on the surface ap-
Selection of text allows the patient to pick a book or story
pears to follow the monomyth, this was in fact to sub-
that they enjoy or would be interested in, and most c-
vert it and take a critical view, as the author said in 1979,
tional literature has elements of the heros journey.
The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes.
Much better [to] rely on your own judgment, and your Identication and projection is when the patient identi-
own mistakes.[35] He wrote in 1985, "Dune was aimed es themes, symbols, and archetypes in the text, then the
at this whole idea of the infallible leader because my view therapist helps the patient to project themselves into the
of history says that mistakes made by a leader (or made in story.
a leaders name) are amplied by the numbers who follow Abreaction and catharsis is when the patient has an emo-
without question.[36] tional response to the story, usually due to factors relating

to their own lives. Insight and integration is when the pa- [10] The heros journey: Joseph Campbell on his life and work.
tient looks back on the story and what the hero did to Edited and with an Introduction by Phil Cousineau. For-
overcome their struggles, and try to do similar things to ward by Stuart L. Brown, Executive Editor. New York:
overcome their struggles. Harper and Row, 1990.

By using bibliotherapy, a patient can project their strug- [11] Christopher Vogel, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure
gles onto the hero in the story and draw parallels between For Writers (2007)
the story and their real life.
[12] Jewett, Robert and John Shelton Lawrence (1977) The
American Monomyth. New York: Doubleday.

7 See also [13] Northup, p. 8

[14] African Oral Narrative Traditions in Foley, John Miles,

8 Notes ed., Teaching Oral Traditions. NY: Modern Language
Association, 1998, p. 183
[1] Monomyth Website, ORIAS, UC Berkeley accessed
2009-11-03 [15] Ellwood, Robert, The Politics of Myth: A Study of C.G.
Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell, SUNY Press,
[2] Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. September 1999. Cf. p.x
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. p.23.
[16] American Anthropologist, 92:4 (December 1990), p.
[3] Campbell, Joseph and Henry Morton Robinson. A Skele- 1104
ton Key to Finnegans Wake, 1944. Joseph Campbell, The
Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton Uni- [17]
versity Press, 1949. p. 30, n35. At the carryfour with
awlus plawshus, their happyass cloudious! And then and [18] Valerie Estelle Frankel (19 October 2010). From Girl to
too the trivials! And their bivouac! And his monomyth! Goddess: The Heroines Journey through Myth and Leg-
Ah ho! Say no more about it! I'm sorry!" James Joyce, end. McFarland. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7864-5789-2.
Finnegans Wake. NY: Viking (1939) p. 581
[19] Campbells 'Heros Journey' Monomyth. changing-
[4] John Collier, foreword to a 1987 reprint of Mabel Dodge Retrieved 2015-12-15.
Luhan (1937) Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality,
p. viii The myth is obviously related to what one might [20] The Writers Journey accessed 2011-03-26
call the monomyth of paradise regained that has been ar-
ticulated and transformed in a variety of ways since the [21] Andrew Gordon, 'Star Wars: A Myth for Our Time', Lit-
early European explorations. Steven Ashe, Qabalah of erature/Film Quarterly 6.4 (Fall 1978): 31426. Matthew
50 Gates (2008), p. 21: those aspects of legend that are Kapell, John Shelton Lawrence, Finding the Force of the
symbolically equivalent within the folk lore of dierent Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, & Critics, Peter
cultures Lang (2006), p. 5.
[5] Dionysus, Ivanovs 'monomyth,' as Omry Ronen has put [22] Edmund Spensers Faerie Queene and the Monomyth of
it, is the symbol of the symbol. One could also name Joseph Campbell: Essays in Interpretation, E. Mellen
Dionysus, the myth of the myth, the metamyth which sig- Press, 2000.
nies the very principle of mediation, [...]" J. Douglas
Clayton (ed.), Issues in Russian Literature Before 1917 [23] Khalid Mohamed Abdullah, Ishmaels Sea Journey and the
(1989), p. 212. Monomyth Archetypal Theory in Melvilles Moby-Dick,
California State University, Dominguez Hills, 2008.
[6] The Heros Journey, New World Library 2003, p. xxi.
[7] Lvi-Strauss gave the term mytheme wide circulation [24] Justin Edward Erickson, A Heroines Journey: The Femi-
from the 1960s, in 1955 he used gross constituent unit, nine Monomyth in Jane Eyre (2012).
in Lvi-Strauss, Claude (1955). The Structural study of
myth. Journal of American Folklore. 68 (270): 428 [25] Leslie Ross, Manifestations of the Monomyth in Fiction:
444. doi:10.2307/536768. ISSN 0021-8715. JSTOR Dickens, Faulkner, Maugham, and Salinger, University of
536768. OCLC 1782260. reprinted as The structural South Dakota, 1992.
study of myth, Structural Anthropology, 1963:206-31;
[26] John James Bajger, The Hemingway Hero and the Mono-
the true constituent units of a myth are not the iso-
myth: An Examination of the Hero Quest Myth in the Nick
lated relations but bundles of such relations (Lvi-Strauss
Adams Stories, Florida Atlantic University, 2003.
1963:211). The term mytheme rst appears in Lvi-
Strauss 1958 French version of the work. [27] Brian Claude McKinney, The Monomyth and Mark
[8] (the morphology of folk-tales), Twains Novels, San Francisco State College, 1967.
Leningrad (1928).
[28] illiam Edward McMillan, The Monomyth in W.B. Yeats
[9] Leeming, David Adams. Mythology: The Voyage of the Cuchulain Play Cycle, University of Illinois at Chicago
Hero. New York: Harper & Row. 1981. Circle, 1979.
9.1 Books based upon interviews with Campbell 9

[29] Stephanie L. Phillips, Ransoms Journey as a Monomyth MacKey-Kallis, Susan. The Hero and the Peren-
Hero in C.S. Lewis Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, nial Journey Home in American Film. University of
and That Hideous Strength, Hardin-Simmons University, Pennsylvania Press (2001). ISBN 0-8122-1768-3
Northup, Lesley. Myth-Placed Priorities: Religion
[30] Paul McCord, The Monomyth Hero in Tolkiens The Lord and the Study of Myth. Religious Studies Review
of the Rings, 1977. 32.1(2006): 5-10.
[31] Henry Hart, Seamus Heaney, Poet of Contrary Progres- Vogler, Christopher. The Writers Journey: Mythic
sions, Syracuse University Press (1993), p. 165. Structure For Writers. Studio City, CA: Michael
[32] , Stephen Kings The Dark Tower": a modern myth Uni- Wiese Productions, 1998.
versity essay from Lule tekniska universitet/Sprk och
Voytilla, Stuart and Vogler, Christopher. Myth &
kultur Author: Henrik Fhraeus; [2008].
the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Un-
[33] forgettable Films. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese
Productions, 1999. ISBN 0-941188-66-3
[34] Star Wars @ NASM, Unit 1, Introduction Page.
Amanieux Laureline, Ce hros qui est en chacun de
[35] Clareson, Thomas (1992). Understanding Contempo- nous, book in French on the monomyth of Camp-
rary American Science Fiction: the Formative Period. bell, Albin Michel, 2011.
Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. pp. 169
172. ISBN 0-87249-870-0.
9.1 Books based upon interviews with
[36] Herbert, Frank (1985). Introduction. Eye. ISBN 0-
425-08398-5. Campbell

[37] Salon Arts & Entertainment | Star Wars despots vs. The Heros Journey: Joseph Campbell on his Life
Star Trek populists By oering valuable insights into and Work Edited and with an Introduction by Phil
this revered storytelling tradition, Joseph Campbell did Cousineau. Forward by Stuart L. Brown, Executive
indeed shed light on common spiritual traits that seem Editor. New York: Harper and Row, 1990.
shared by all human beings. And Ill be the rst to ad-
mit its a superb formula one that Ive used at times The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers and Betty Sue
in my own stories and novels. [...] It is essential to un- Flowers, ed.), 1988
derstand the radical departure taken by genuine science
ction, which comes from a diametrically opposite liter-
ary tradition a new kind of storytelling that often rebels 9.2 DVD/discography
against those very same archetypes Campbell venerated.
An upstart belief in progress, egalitarianism, positive-sum Joseph Campbell and the power of myth (1988)
games and the slim but real possibility of decent human
institutions. The Heros Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell
[38] Boston Globe accessed 2009-11-03

[39] Use by Bly of Campbells monomyth work accessed 2009-

11-03 10 External links
[40] Duy, Jason (2010). A Heroic Journey: Re- The Monomyth Cycle
Conceptualizing Adjustment Disorder Through the Lens
of the Heos Quest. Journal of Systemic Therapies. Examples of Each Stage of a Heros Journey in Star
Wars and The Matrix
the-science-of-near-death-experiences/386231/ Heros Journey
The Romantic Appeal of Joseph Campbell
9 References
Campbell, Joseph. The Heros Journey: Joseph
Campbell on His Life and Work (1949, 2nd ed.
1968, 3rd ed. 2008 ).

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand

Faces. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

11 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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