Writing Wednesday: Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces Part II

Today we’re looking at part II of Joseph’s Campell’s theory of the monomyth as discussed in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I discussed the first phase, separation, here.

In this post, we’ll look at the second phase: initiation.

  • Road of Trials–The hero is put through a series of tests designed to measure his skill and endurance. For the ancient Greek hero Odysseus, this would be the many trials on his journey back to his homeland of Ithaca. For Luke Skywalker, this might be the tests Yoda puts him through during his training on the planet Dagobah.
  • Meeting with the Goddess–Usually the hero meets with some kind of mother figure or goddess who helps him or her on her way. For Odysseus, this is meeting his mother while in the Underworld. For Harry Potter, it’s seeing his mother and father in the Mirror of Erised. For Luke, it could be meeting Princess Leia who proves herself to be useful in a fight.
  • Woman as Temptress–The hero falls for a goddess who is usually a distraction. Odysseus loses plenty of time on Calypso’s island! Some people see Princess Leia as the temptress for Luke Skywalker. Ugh, yeah, let’s not go there.
  • Atonement with Father–The father figure is usually an “ogre,” a bad guy. At some point, the hero is reconciled to his father. To be honest, I don’t remember this in The Odyssey at all since there’s no mention of his actual father, but it’s obvious in Star Wars, and if you don’t know why it’s obvious for Luke Skywalker, then boy are you in for a surprise when you watch the movies! 🙂
  • Apotheosis–The hero sees what the gods see. The hero has perfect understanding. I think for Odysseus, this is when he realizes he made a mistake by comparing himself to the gods. For Luke Skywalker, it’s when he understands the truth about Princess Leia.
  • The Ultimate Boon–The hero reaches the object of his quest. Odysseus reaches home. Luke Skywalker faces the Emperor and Vader. Percy Jackson gets the lightning bolt. You get the idea.

Part I of the Hero’s Journey can be found here and Part III can be found here.

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One Response to Writing Wednesday: Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces Part II

  1. Ginny Marie says:

    There are a couple of scenes in the first two Star Wars movies between Luke and Leia that are…uncomfortable…after you know what they find out in the Return of the Jedi!

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