The hero’s journey is a timeless storytelling pattern found in many works of literature and mythology. It provides a framework for creating compelling stories that resonate with audiences. This article explores the hero’s journey in detail, providing a complete resource for those seeking information on this topic and a guide for recognizing and understanding it in writing.
What is the hero’s journey?
The hero’s journey is a widely recognized storytelling pattern that has been used for centuries in literature and mythology. It is a framework that helps writers create compelling stories that resonate with their readers by depicting a protagonist who goes through a transformative journey. The journey usually involves a series of challenges that the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve their goal. The hero’s journey is also known as the monomyth, a term coined by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
The monomyth, or hero’s journey, is a storytelling pattern that transcends genres and time periods. It is a timeless concept that continues to be relevant today because it speaks to universal themes such as self-discovery, transformation, and growth.
Variations on the hero’s journey
While the twelve steps of the hero’s journey have become the most widely recognized pattern for storytelling, there are variations of the hero’s journey that have been developed over time. Some feature additional steps, while others emphasize different aspects of the journey. For example, Christopher Vogler developed a seven-step variation of the hero’s journey that emphasizes the role of archetypes in storytelling. Another variation, developed by Maureen Murdock, focuses on the journey of the female hero and includes steps such as separation, initiation, and return.
What is the purpose of the hero’s journey?
The purpose of the hero’s journey is to create a compelling narrative that resonates with readers on an emotional level. The hero’s journey is a timeless plot that has been used to create some of the most memorable works of literature and mythology. It speaks to themes of human experience, including self-discovery, transformation, and growth.
The 12 steps of the hero’s journey
The hero’s journey typically involves a series of specific steps that the hero must take to achieve their goal or complete their quest. The fundamental steps include:
The call to adventure, where the hero is presented with a challenge or opportunity that sets them on their path; the crossing of the threshold, leaving behind the known world and venturing into the unknown; various tests, trials, and allies that help the hero overcome obstacles along the way; a confrontation with a major enemy or obstacle; and finally, the return home, transformed and changed by their experiences.
Here are the twelve steps of the hero’s journey:
1 The call to adventure
This is the moment when the hero receives a call to adventure, which could come in the form of a message, a dream, or an encounter with a mentor or guide.
2 The refusal of the call
At this stage, the hero may initially refuse the call to adventure, often due to fear, doubt, or a sense of inadequacy.
3 Meeting the mentor
The hero encounters a mentor or guide who provides support, advice, and guidance on the journey ahead.
4 Crossing the threshold
The hero leaves behind the known world and crosses the threshold into the unknown, often encountering tests, trials, and challenges along the way.
5 Tests, allies, and enemies
The hero must navigate a series of tests, trials, and challenges, often with the help of allies and the opposition of enemies.
6 The approach to the inmost cave
The hero approaches the innermost cave or the heart of darkness, often facing their greatest fears and challenges.
7 The ordeal
This is the moment of the hero’s greatest challenge, where they face a major obstacle or enemy and must overcome it to continue their journey.
8 The reward
The hero achieves a reward—often in the form of knowledge, insight, or a powerful object—that helps them on their journey.
9 The road back
The hero begins the journey back, often encountering new challenges and obstacles along the way.
10 The resurrection
The hero experiences a moment of death and rebirth, often symbolized by a physical or metaphorical transformation.
11 The return
The hero returns home, transformed and changed by their experiences, armed with new knowledge and insights that they can use to benefit their community.
12 The freedom to live
The hero achieves a state of freedom and enlightenment, often living happily ever after or in a state of balance and harmony.
These steps provide a roadmap for creating powerful and impactful stories that audiences can relate to across cultures and time periods.
Examples of the hero’s journey
Examples of the hero’s journey can be found in many works of literature and mythology. Some examples include:
- The Odyssey by Homer
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
- Star Wars by George Lucas
Hero’s journey FAQs
What is the hero’s journey?
The hero’s journey typically involves a protagonist who goes on a journey of self-discovery. The journey usually involves a series of challenges that the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve their goal.
What are the steps of the hero’s journey?
Some common elements of the hero’s journey include the call to adventure, refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, crossing the threshold, tests, allies, and enemies, the approach, the ordeal, the reward, the road back, the resurrection, the return, and the freedom to live.
Are there different types of hero’s journeys?
Some examples of variations on the hero’s journey are the heroine’s journey, the antihero’s journey, and the tragic hero’s journey. These variations add depth and complexity to the basic structure of the hero’s journey.
This article was written with support from Grammarly’s generative AI.