Joseph Campbell
THE MONOMYTH
THE MONOMYTH
Campbell’s thesis is that all myths follow this
structure to some extent
 The Odyssey
 The story of Moses in The Bible
 The Lord of the Rings
 Alice in Wonderland
 Harry Potter
 The Lion King
 King Arthur … and many more

PEOPLE INFLUENCED BY CAMPBELL
Bob Dylan
 Jim Morrison
 George Lucas
 Jerry Garcia
 Christopher Vogler – Disney Studios
 Stanley Kubrick

THREE SECTIONS
 The
Departure / Separation
 The
Initiation
 The
Return
STAGE 1: THE DEPARTURE
THE CALL TO ACTION / ADVENTURE
Hero begins in his normal, mundane world
 There is usually a trigger: a challenge, problem,
or a request
 There may be figurative or literal treasure
 There is tension – will he/she accept or not?
 The call may be gradual or forceful
 The hero may need encouragement to begin

REFUSAL OF THE CALL
Hero may initially hesitate
 Hero is reluctant to leave home / normal,
everyday life
 Call may not seem important
 Hero may have responsibilities

ACCEPTANCE OF THE CALL
The hero realizes there is nobody better to do
the job
 There may be no one else available
 The hero may need the encouragement of a
mentor

SUPERNATURAL AID
The hero is given help to make him wiser,
stronger, better able to face the challenges
 Aid may be maps, information, weapons, or a
special talisman

MENTOR
The hero is given support and aid by a teacher
 Often, the archetype of the wise, old man is
presented

COMPANIONS
The hero is joined by friends who will help with
the adventure and support the hero in the
different trials
 Sometimes they contrast the hero to
emphasize the positive traits of the hero

CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD
This is the point of no return as the hero sets out
on the journey
 He must leave the home world and enter the new
world of adventure
 This is a very symbolic act often signifying a stage
in a rite of passage
 It is a defining, scary moment; the hero is now
independent
 It may be guarded by people, monsters, or
difficulties which have to be overcome

ENTERING THE BELLY OF THE WHALE
The hero defeats the Threshold Guardian and
finds himself/herself in a dark place
 The hero may find his true purpose
 The belly may be an ambiguous place
 There is definite danger
 This is based on the Biblical story of Jonah
 It may involve the “lion’s den or dragon’s lair”

STAGE 2: THE INITIATION
THE ROAD OF TRIALS
The hero is on “the road” of the journey
 This is the pathway he/she must follow
 He/she will encounter physical and mental
challenges that will improve his/her skills
 The hero grows in confidence and capability
 There may be a “brother battle” with a familiar
foe (also a “dragon battle / monster”)
 The hero gains strength with each trial

THE MEETING WITH THE GODDESS
The hero meets a powerful female figure with
whom he finds unity and bonding
 She is the “amina” (female side) to his male
side/soul; combined he is a total person
 She is beautiful, queen-like, or motherly
 She gives support
 She may be ordinary or a mystical, supernatural
being

WOMAN AS TEMPTRESS FROM TRUE PATH
Hero meets temptation in female form
 She offers short-term relief or gratification
 To give in to her would cause the mission to fail
 She is symbolic of short-term pleasures that
test the hero’s ability to make difficult
judgments
 She may be deliberately sent by a villain

ATONEMENT WITH THE FATHER
Hero encounters a father-like, patriarchal
authority
 Father and son are often pitted against one
another but must be reconciled
 The father must be beaten, persuaded, or
approval gained
 The person may be a high authority or an
immortal
 The hero gains power by taking it from father

APOTHEOSIS
The point at which the hero achieves a greater
understanding after overcoming these trials
 It is a breakthrough moment in consciousness
 The old hero “dies” and is reborn as a more
resolved self
 The hero may change in appearance
 The hero is ready for the difficult task, even
death (self-sacrifice)

THE ULTIMATE BOON
The goal of the journey is achieved
 This happens after a battle with the villain or a
difficult trial
 The hero is psychologically balanced
 The hero is ready to receive the gift
 The is the climax of the story

STAGE 3: THE RETURN
REFUSAL OF THE RETURN
The hero has finished his/her quest and
 Doesn’t want to leave the new world / return to
the old world
 He / she is afraid that the old world may not
accept the “new” person who changed because
of the journey

THE MAGIC FLIGHT
The hero decides to return home
 The hero may be accompanied by a protector
who helps overcome obstacles on the way
home
 The hero may have to face those who he
angered on the journey

RESCUE FROM WITHOUT
On the way home, the hero may need rescued
from
 A state of helplessness or bliss or from
 Death

CROSSING OF THE RETURN THRESHOLD
On the way home, the hero must again cross
the threshold that separates the new and old
worlds
 The hero may have to defeat another
gatekeeper
 The hero is again symbolically “reborn” after
his “death” of the first threshold crossing

MASTER OF TWO WORLDS
The hero realizes there is nothing separating
his home and the new world
 The hero has achieved balance between the
safety and comfort of home and the new world
 This balances his character and mind

FREEDOM TO LIVE
With the journey complete, the hero
understands him/herself
 The hero can live freely between home and the
new world
 With new knowledge, the hero can be
beneficial to the world
