Freshman B: The Monomyth

So, we’ve learned about myths, folktales and legends over the past week. Today we talked about a guy named Joseph Campbell who read thousands of these and came up with a pretty cool idea about them.

We started class journaling to this:

Think of a character from a book/movie/tv show/real life and describe what happened to them or what they did. Basically, tell their story from beginning to end.

We put a whole bunch of names on the board. People like Naurito, Wendy Wu, Alex Rider, the Incredibles, Sponge Bob, Wonder Woman, Superman, Johnny Blaze/Ghostrider. What do they all have in common? They all go through similar stages of their adventures.

According to Joseph Campbell, the author of the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, almost every hero from every country of any time period follows the same 16 stages of a journey, starting with their “call to adventure” and ending as “masters of two worlds.” This idea was called the “monomyth” – or, in other words, “one story.”

In class today we tried to put these 16 stages in order using only the words Campbell (and a couple of his peers) wrote to describe them. We wrote it on this sheet: Monomyth wheel. Keep it because it’ll come in handy. We’ll go over the steps in more detail tomorrow. Each 16 steps are detailed below:

The Call to Adventure
“The first stage of the mythological journey – which we have designated the ‘call to adventure’ – signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Refusal of the Call
“The hero says ‘No, I can’t,’ or their fear comes up.”
-Christopher Volger, author

Supernatural aide
“For those who have not refused the call, the first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass … Not infrequently, the supernatural helper is masculine in form. In fairy lore it may be some little fellow of the wood, some wizard, hermit, shepherd, or smith, who appears, to supply the amulets and advice that the hero will require.
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Crossing of the First Threshold
“The hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the “threshold guardian” at the entrance to the zone of magnified power … Beyond them is darkness, the unknown, and danger…The usual person is more than content to remain within the indicated bounds and … fear the first step into the unexplored.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Belly of the Whale
“The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Road of Trials
“The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met before his entrance into this region … Dragons now have to be slain and surprising barriers passed – again, again, and again.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Meeting with the Goddess
“She lures, she guides … The meeting with the goddess is the final test of the talent of the hero to win love.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Temptation (Woman as Temptress)
“At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which … does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman.
-Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Atonement with the Father
“The father [admits] to his house only those [heroes] who have been thoroughly tested … The father is the initiating priest through whom the young being passes on into the larger world.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Apotheosis
“The hero has become, by virtue of the ceremonial, more than man.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Ultimate Boon
“The adventure accomplished signifies that the hero is a superior man … the [hero] encounters no delaying obstacle and makes no mistake … a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Refusal of the Return
“When the hero-quest has been accomplished … the adventurer still must return … The hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where [the prize may help] the community, the nation, the planet.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Magic Flight
“If the [hero’s] trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero’s wish to return the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively pursuit … complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Rescue from Without
“The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Crossing of the Return Threshold
“The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real … the banalities and noisy obscenities of life?”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

In other words, after a hero comes back from a difficult and even life-changing quest, coming home to their normal routine after facing death and danger can be a difficult adjustment.

Master of the Two Worlds
“[The hero’s] personal ambitions being totally dissolved, he no longer tries to live but willingly relaxes to whatever may come to pass in him.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s