I am convinced that you know what the hero’s journey is, only do not you know it by name. The Hero’s Journey or Monomyth is a formula or a structure presented by Joseph Campbell in his book called The Hero of a Thousand Faces (1949). In this book, Campbell describes twelve stages of a narrative, and comes up with a conclusion that in famous and successful narratives, the characters are all the same. Therefore, these stages can be applied in (almost) every narrative, in cinema or literature.
The following picture is going to clarify what are the twelve stages.
Now it is time to know a few narratives in which “The Hero’s Journey” is present.
1 The Lord of the Rings
This story is a classic example of The Hero’s Journey. As the story happens in a different world, at the very beginning the world is presented and later we meet the hero. It is important to mention that the ordinary world of a story does not necessarily correspond to our ordinary world. Frodo is chosen by Gandalf, his mentor, to destroy the One ring. At first, he refuses the adventure. We cannot forget he is a hobbit, so this is expected. In Rivendell, he finally accepts it and the stage 5 starts. Along his path, he meets different creatures and faces challenges. Different from expected, Frodo is unable to destroy the ring and this is the hook for the following movies. However, he changes during the narrative and when he comes back home, he is not the same.
2 Star Wars
In the same way that The Lord of The Rings, a distinct world is shown in Star Wars and we are introduced to Luke, the hero of the movie. After receiving Princess Leia’s message and not without thinking twice, Luke escapes Tatooine. When the stage 5 beginnings, Luke meets Chewbacca and Han Solo and starts his trainee to become a Jedi. The rescue of Princess Leia corresponds to stage number 8 and this action has a consequence: the death of Obi-Wan. The stage number 10 simply does not happen in this story. Instead, Luke decides to go back to Death Star. In the stage 12, Luke is finally home and it was not as he had left. His return represents the certainty that he and his friends will survive to keep fighting against the Empire.
3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Another good example of the Hero’s Journey is the first movie of the franchise created by J. K. Rowling. We are presented to Harry’s ordinary world, and he receives the letter to Hogwarts. In this movie, Harry refuses to believe that he is a wizard and the mentor, Hagrid, is responsible for proving this to him and for leading Harry through stage 5. Once in the school, the stages 6 and 7 flows naturally. The stage 8 is when Harry finally faces Lord Voldemort, the man who killed his parents and Harry, therefore, his biggest fear. After had defeated the enemy, at least for now, Harry recovers and with a picture of his parents (the reward) in his possessions, he goes back to the initial point, but not the same as he was. It is very interesting to notice that even though the other movies are not about the beginning of the story, the stages of the Hero’s Journey are there.
This list is composed by movies based on literary works. However, we can find this structure in many other narratives, such as superhero’s movies, action movies and, even, in romantic movies. In addition to that, we have to keep in mind that the stages are not fixed and can be presented in different orders.
To conclude, this theory is important to all of those people who are going to work with story telling, script, etc. Moreover, it is interesting to normal people to understand the process of the stories we read or watch. Its one tool that can be used to analyse works, and even to start a conversation.
VOGLER, C. (1980). The memo that started it all. Retrieved from http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm.
OMELETEVE. (2017). Jornada do Heroi: Luke, Katniss e Harry são a mesma pessoa? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-oT7upunUw&t=301s.
IMDb. (2013). Monomyth or "The Hero's Journey" in Movies. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/list/ls052754941/.