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Joseph Campbell

- American psychologist and


- Published his seminal work,

“The Hero With a Thousand
Faces” in 1949.

- Coined the phrase “Follow your bliss”

- His theories have informed and inspired authors and directors

for decades. The most famous? George Lucas (creator of Star
Wars) .
Background Information
- Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (a collaborator of Sigmund
Freud) wrote about the idea of something called the
“collective unconscious” (the basic idea is that we all
share some common mental motivations, forms, etc
that go beyond personal experience)
- Jung’s other major influence on Campbell was his work
on the idea of the “archetype”. “Archetypes” are
psychological constructs that we all share and exist on
a subconscious level. Examples include “the wise old
man”, “the great mother”, “the shadow”, etc, among
The Hero Archetype
- The Jungian archetype that Campbell was most
interested in was “The Hero”.
- Campbell believed that every hero, regardless of
culture, origin or medium, goes on the same journey.
- He details the three stages of this journey in his book,
The Hero With a Thousand Faces
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day
into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces
are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the
hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with
the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
The Heroic Journey – A Side Note
It should be noted that the steps that follow of the heroic
journey are not often clear. Some heroes go on many
journeys within a single story, but all the steps will be
there in some way, shape or form. Some heroes may have
multiple goddess figures or will receive different forms of
supernatural aid throughout their journey.
Stage 1 – The Departure
The Departure is the stage in the heroic journey in which
the hero leaves a place of safety and journeys out into the
world to begin their adventures and growth as a person.

Part I – The Call to Adventure

Part II – The Refusal of the Call

Part III – Supernatural Aid

Part IV – Crossing of the 1st


Part V – The Belly of the Whale

The Call to Adventure
The hero begins their journey in a mundane
situation of normality (for them). Some
information is received that acts as a call to head
off into the unknown.
Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses
to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation,
fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range
of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her
current circumstances.

"I think you must

have made a
mistake. I don't
think I can be a
- Harry
Supernatural Aid
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or
unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears, or
becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural
mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans
or artifacts that will aid them later in their quest. This
figure tends to be an outsider to society – a hermit,
wizard, etc.
Crossing the 1st Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into
the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or
her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous
realm where the rules and limits are not known.
Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation
from the hero's known world and self. By entering this
stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a
Stage 2 – The Initiation
The Initiation is the stage in which the hero undergoes a
great change. They leave behind their innocent, naïve self
and mature into a formidable, worldly hero.

Part I: The Road of Trials

Part II: The Meeting with the Goddess
Part III: Woman as Temptress
Part IV: Atonement with the Father
Part V: Apotheosis
Part VI: The Ultimate Boon
The Road of Trials
This is when the hero must pass a series of tests, tasks or
ordeals that set them on their road to transformation.
Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which
often occur in threes.
The Meeting with the Goddess
This is the part of the story where the hero meets with a
(generally) female figure. The relationship between the
hero and the goddess figure tends to be that of a son-
mother, though it can also be romantic in nature. She
acts as a guide for the hero through his journey.
Woman as Temptress
In this step, the hero faces temptation that will seek to
divert him from his task. The temptation is not necessary
a woman. Woman here serves merely as a metaphor for
the physical or material temptations of life.
Atonement with the Father
In this step, the hero must confront by whoever or
whatever holds the ultimate power in his life. In
traditional myths, this is the father, or a father figure with
the power of life and death. Many heroes have been
raised without their father in their life. This is the central
part of the story (the climax). The hero will take the place
of this “father”, for better or for worse.
The hero moves into a heavenly state of divine
knowledge, love and completion. Greater knowledge is
achieved. With this newfound knowledge and perception,
the hero is ready to tackle the most difficult part of the
The Ultimate Boon
This is when the final goal of the journey is achieved. This
generally occurs after a great battle with the ultimate
villain or when a particularly difficult final trial has been
Stage 3 – The Return
Having completed his quest, the hero must now return to
their regular life.

Part I: Refusal of the Return

Part II: The Magic Flight
Part III: Rescue from Without
Part IV: Crossing the Return
Part V: Master of Two Worlds
Part VI: Freedom to Live
Refusal of the Return
Having found bliss and enlightenment, the hero doesn’t
wish to return to the mundane world of their previous life.

Harry has no wish to return to his

mundane life with the Dursleys.
The Magic Flight
The hero must now hurry home after The Ultimate Boon.
Sometimes this step is a mad dash, perhaps in fear of
bandits or the loss of treasure along the way.

After completing his task

Of obtaining the trophy
from the center of the
maze, Harry must flee back
to safety.
Rescue from Without
Just as the hero needed guides
and assistance to set out on the
quest, returning home can be an
equally difficult proposition. The
hero will need powerful rescuers
and helpers to transition him
back to the normal world.
Crossing of the Return Threshold
At last, the hero finally returns to their home turf. This may not be an easy
task as a final hurdle must be overcome.

In the first book, Harry must

return home and deal with
living with the Dursleys again.
Master of Two Worlds
Having completed the journey out and back in, the hero is
now a master of both the mundane and alien worlds. He
can pass back and forth between the two without
experiencing further trials.
Freedom to Live
At last, the hero has earned the right to live as he
chooses. The hero’s life generally takes a path of wisdom
in which they become a ruler, a teacher or an adviser.
They may get married or possibly go adventuring again.
Since it’s original publication, Campbell’s view of the
Heroic Journey has been expanded and altered many
times. Attempts have been made to further complicate or
overly simplify it, but the idea always remains the same:
hero stories from around the world and throughout time
widely follow the same pattern. Campbell believed that
these ideas about what a hero is and should be go beyond
mere retellings and delve into something spiritual or
genetic that exists within us.