The Monomyth
The Hero’s Journey-from
ancient Greece to Hollywood
Monomyth-The One, Common
Story of Mankind
mythos= (Gk)-story
Joseph Campbell (famous mythologist) wrote a
book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Myth and stories speak through the use of
symbols…symbols that we just understand at
some basic, human level
These symbols have existed since the dawn of
Joseph Campbell- The Hero with a
Thousand Faces (1949)
Joseph Campbell worked to ‘decode’ these
ancient symbols; consequently, he
formulated the theory of the monomyth
He studied how stories from around the
world at any given time period shared a
common structure and pattern
These ancient symbols occur over and
over again because they are part of our
human experience
The Monomyth
Simply put, it is a story,
common to the entire
human experience, that
draws upon symbols and
events that follow a
common pattern
Before you know the stages of
monomyth, you first must know
A symbol or idea that we all “know” on
some level
They naturally are a part of us
Carl Jung (Swiss psychiatrist) believed
these archetypes come from mankind’s
collective unconscious (the shared
experiences of humankind passed down
through hundreds of thousands of years)
What else is there to know about
Archetypes are:
Primordial==they were ingrained in us prior
to birth (part of man’s collective unconscious)
Universal==common to all people all over the
When you dream, the deepest part of your
mind reveals itself and often archetypes are
Think of the common experiences
we all share while we dream…
Being Chased
Being Rescued
A Long Journey
A Dark Cave
Being Lost
Consider the monomyth in
literature and film…
Batman/Spiderman/etc. Star Wars The Lion King
The Matrix
The Karate Kid
Harry Potter
Finding Nemo
Lord of the Rings
The Wizard of Oz
Ever wonder why these are so popular?
The Monomyth
The Hero’s Journey-from
ancient Greece to Hollywood
The Pattern of the Monomyth
There are three (3) stages:
Separation /Departure from the
World -“the known world”/light
 Initiation-the unknown
 Return to the World--“the
known world”/light
Quotation from Hero with a
Thousand Faces
 “A hero ventures forth from the world
of the common day into a region of
supernatural wonder: fabulous forces
are there encountered and a decisive
victory is won: the hero comes back
from this mysterious adventure with
the power to bestow boons on his
fellow man" (Campbell 30).
Stage I: Separation and Departure
from the World
A. The Call to Adventure
 The hero receives a call to action (ex: by
choice, as punishment or just falls into it
by chance or luck, from within)
 The “call” often comes to the hero by a
“herald” (someone or something unusual
or mysterious )
 The “herald” stimulates the hero into
action; the hero might accept or
temporarily refuse
 Shay is to Tally Youngblood as Gandalf is
to Bilbo Baggins
Stage I: Separation and Departure
from the World
B. Refusal of the Call
The “call” is sometimes denied due to
fear, another duty, insecurity, etc.
Usually, negative consequences befall
the hero if he keeps denying the
“call”—he must begin the journey!
It is his fate and duty to pursue the
“call” even thought s/he may fear the
Typically, a supernatural event will
convince the hero or another event
will force the hero to move beyond
his world and into the “unknown zone
of experience”
Stage I: Separation and Departure
from the World
C. Supernatural Aid
 Once he accepts the call, a figure, or
guide, (old man, god/goddess, or
messenger) gives the hero
psychological and/or physical
weapons, powers, or tools to assist
and protect during the journey
 Bilbo (Sting), Luke (Light Saber),
Theseus (Ariadne’s ball of string)
Stage I: Separation and Departure
from the World
D. Crossing the First Threshold
Threshold- def -any place or point of entering
or beginning
The hero must cross over into “the unknown”
(usually dangerous) that is unlike the safety
of his home; it’s a scary choice for the hero
Usually there is a guardian (or mentor) of the
threshold that tests the hero
The hero may face evil or darkness; the rules
and limits may not be clear; RISK!
Ex: Luke Skywalker entering the bar
Stage I: Separation and Departure from the World
E. Belly of the Whale
The hero will soon be “reborn”; this is the
final separation and the choice to go on the
journey, in order to come out of a place
where he was into a new zone of existence
Hero chooses to undergo a change that is
necessary to survive his/her adventure
The hero will be ‘born anew’ and ready for his
journey; his old self has “died”
Jonah (Whale), Luke (Trash Compactor), Bilbo
(Cave with ring), You (Church/College)
Application to Harry Potter
Call-Hagrid comes to Harry with a letter saying
“You’re accepted.”
Refusal-Harry can’t accept this truth that he is
the chosen one.
Supernatural Aid- Uses wand, learns about his
past, and receives training in spells
Crossing a Threshold- Enters wall at station
(Platform 9 ¾ & his own fear); goes to school
Belly of the Whale- In the white space; in
Hogwarts where he is educated and where the
“new” Harry is born and the “old” Harry dies
The Pattern of the Monomyth
There are three (3) stages:
Separation /Departure from the
 Initiation-the hero is tested
to prove worthiness
 Return to the World
Stage II: Initiation
Road of Trials—(nadir-the lowest point in journey)
The hero is challenged by physical and psychological
tests-usually in threes (usually violent confrontations)
Tests help the hero improve character and become
self-reliant in journey; may fail a trial
The hero may have assistance from a supernatural
aid (object or person) or may find this strength to
overcome tests from deep within
He is succeeding in the realm of the unknown where
rules and limits are unclear; must “die” symbolically
to be resurrected as the true hero figure
Hobbit-Orcs, Ring / Odysseus-Cyclops, Sirens / Luke
Skywalker-monsters, resisting the Dark Side / Tally-?
Stage II: Initiation
B. Meeting with the Goddess (Marriage)
 This figure is typically a woman…beautiful, queen-like,
motherly—usually associated with the earth and its
fruitfulness (ability to bring forth food)
 This joining between male and female unites two entities.
The journey and hero are strengthened. Think of yin-yang.
 The hero finds happiness, fulfillment, and rejuvenation in
this new ‘guide’—like a child would with its mother
 This goddess figure is the nourisher of life and of the
heroic journey (don’t forget that temptation is also linked
to this step)
 Luke Skywalker & Princess Laia / Harry Potter and Cho
Chang & Ginny / David and Tally
Stage II: Initiation
C. Atonement with the Father
 Atonement— def. = making amends or reparation for a
mistake or error (think of it as at-one-ment)
The hero meets a father figure who possesses ultimate
authority over the hero—must confront, break free and
gain independence
The father figure can be ‘good’ and supportive of the hero
or ‘bad’ and antagonistic—either way, the hero must come
to terms with him and move away from him
The hero must understand the father to better understand
himself and grow in the journey
Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader / Father and Son /
Telemachus & Odysseus / Neo & Morpehus
Stage II: Initiation
D. Apotheosis (ultimate elevation of consciousness and self)
 Apotheosis-Def. = becoming god-like; transformation
 The hero gains a new understanding of the world,
himself, and his place in the world
 He may physically die and return or symbolically die—
either way, he ascends to new heights
 His new understanding allows more perspective and
raises his awareness and ability
 The hero is now equipped with an almost divine
sense of drive to achieve his goal; it’s a rest break,
 Christ / Luke when he trusts himself, guides his
Starfighter to drop the final bomb, and scores a direct
hit / Gandalf becomes Gandalf the White
Stage II: Initiation
E. The Ultimate Boon (Blessing/Gift)-CLIMAX
 The hero is ready, purged from all weakness and
doubt, and achieves the original goal of his quest
 He’s purified and possesses an elixir (ex: fire, bride,
object) to save and help him or others
 The hero is driven to share his discovery (physical
item or mental realization) with the society he first
came from
 The hero wants to provide the understanding and
balance to those people who need it
 Arthur’s Knights & Holy Grail / Moses & 10
Commandments / Frodo destroys Ring / Luke
Skywalker brings peace to the galaxy
The Pattern of the Monomyth
There are three (3) stages:
Separation /Departure from
the World
 Initiation
 Return to the World
Stage III: Return
A. Refusal of the Return
 The hero finds bliss and enlightenment in this
other world
 Inner conflict reigns—perhaps he shouldn’t
return to the old/known world—the place of
 The hero may feel that he will not be
accepted or that he’s better off not returning
with his ‘gift’
 Simba in The Lion King
Stage III: Return
B. Magic Flight
The hero’s boon may not be accepted
by those in the world which he left (ex:
jealousy and fear)
 The hero may need to flee and escape
to keep the boon intact
 This flight may set the hero on a new
journey or quest
 Returning could be as dangerous as it
was to depart
Stage III: Return
C. Rescue From Without
Because the journey is exhausting and
possibly dangerous, more guides, helpers or
supernatural aids may appear to rejuvenate
and assist him
The hero may have to overcome another
‘gatekeeper’ and threshold
Like the first crossing, darkness or danger
may lay in wait for the hero
This threshold, again, offers a journey
Stage III: Return
D. Master of Two Worlds
The hero grasps two realities—the ‘old’
existence in which he first existed and the
‘new’ reality that presents him with the divine
and the true essence of existence
The hero has effectively ‘mastered’ both
The hero gains transcendence—he exists
beyond the normal realm or limitations
The essential being or mystery that guides
the universe is understood
Stage III: Return
E. Freedom to Live (zenith-the highest moment
in the journey…success)
 Boons are realized
 Celebrating freedom and choice
 Living in the moment
 Salvation can be delivered
 The hero can exist in both worlds and bestow
boons on fellow man

MonomythPPT - Kenston Local Schools