Notes: "Epic Journey 9 Steps to Success"

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The Heroic Quest
Based on the work of
Joseph Campbell
and
in preparation for reading
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
Joseph Campbell
• 1904 – 1987
• Mythologist: one who
studies myths and legends
in different cultures
• Used archetypes to explain
why patterns of stories
appear in all cultures,
regardless of time or place.
A heroic text structure
The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949)
• Campbell studied hundreds of heroes from different
times and cultures.
• During his study he recognized a common text
structure for every hero.
• This text structure appears in Native American,
ancient Greek, African, Norse, Christian, Jewish,
Hindu, and Asian heroic tales.
• Campbell called this text structure the Heroic Quest
Three Parts of the Heroic Quest
• Part I: Departure—the
hero’s journey begins
• Part II: Initiation—the
hero is tested
• Part III: Return—the
hero’s journey is complete
Part I: Departure—
the hero’s journey begins
The status quo (the current state of affairs)
• Society is in pretty bad shape.
• As an audience, we get to see the hero
before he/she has done anything heroic.
• Hero is typically an unlikely person
– Main clue: orphan or person of
mysterious birth
Part I: Departure—
the hero’s journey begins
The call to adventure
• Fate/providence/destiny reaches out to
the hero and offers him/her the quest
– The hero may accept or refuse the quest.
• If the hero accepts, all is well.
• If the the hero refuses, tragedy or
disaster strikes the hero personally so
that he/she is forced into taking the
quest.
Part I: Departure—
the hero’s journey begins
Advice and gifts from a mentor
• The mentor may be a variety of people or, as in
fantasy, creatures.
• Usually grants some gift or ability
to hero
• Mentor’s advice and gifts allows the
hero to be successful during the first
part of his/her challenges.
D
E
P
A
R
T
U
R
E
Part I
Harry Potter
Luke
Skywalker
Peter Parker
The status
quo
Harry leads a
boring life
living with his
aunt and uncle.
Whereabouts of
Voldemort
unknown.
Luke leads a
boring life
living with his
aunt and uncle.
Galactic civil
war.
Peter is a bit of
a nerd, and
has poor self
esteem. Leads
a boring life
with aunt and
uncle.
The call to
adventure
Letters from
Hogwarts
arrive. Hagrid
arrives and tells
him he’s a
wizard.
The droids
arrive. R2-D2
plays Leia’s
distress signal.
Ben Kenobi
invites Luke to
join him.
A radioactive
spider bites
Peter, giving
mysterious
new powers.
How will Peter
use them?
Gifts from a
mentor
invisibility
cloak, Hedwig
the owl
his father’s
lightsaber,
slight training
in The Force
“With great
power comes
great
responsibility.”
Simba
Simba is a
young and
naïve cub
who is living
a boring life
on the
African plain
Evil Uncle
Scar kills his
father,
leaving him
an orphan
with no
home.
Hakuna
Matata,
Realizing he is
like his Dad
Part II: Initiation—
the hero is tested
Minor challenges
• Hero must go through several minor challenges
first.
• Bring out the hero’s qualities, often previously
unknown, even to the hero.
• Success proves to others (and the hero)
that he/she is capable of great potential.
Part II: Initiation—
the hero is tested
Mentors true and false
• The hero will meet other mentors during
the course of the heroic quest.
– Some will be true, honest, and helpful.
– Others will see the hero’s potential and try to
use him/her as a tool in their own evil plans.
• One of the hero’s greatest struggles is in
learning whom to trust and why.
Part II: Initiation—
the hero is tested
Isolation of the hero
• Just before the final fight, the hero
is separated from his/her friends.
• The heroic quest demands that the
hero must complete the final
challenge without any help.
Part II: Initiation—
the hero is tested
The supreme ordeal
• Ultimate fight with the villain, usually to the
death.
– In narrative structure, this is typically the climax of
the story.
• Main difference from typical narrative structure:
– This fight is not the end—it’s just a step that must be
done before the hero can finally finish the quest.
Part II
I
N
I
T
I
A
T
I
O
N
minor
challenges
Harry Potter
Peter Parker
rescuing the
princess
getting used to
powers
Malfoy, Snape,
Ron,
Dumbledore
Han Solo, Ben
Uncle Ben,
Aunt Mae,
Norman
Osborn, Jonah
Jameson
hero isolated
Harry leaves
Hermione
behind after
the potions
ordeal.
Luke’s allies
are picked off
until he alone
must destroy
the Death Star.
Peter isolates
himself from
his friends.
The Green
Goblin takes
Peter away.
supreme ordeal
(physical
climax)
Harry faces
Voldemort.
Luke attacks
the Death Star.
Spider-man
faces the
Green Goblin.
mentors
true/false
quidditch,
bullies
Luke
Skywalker
Simba
Face his family
Leave
childhood
behind
Scar
Rafiki
Nala
Faces Scar
alone on Pride
Rock
Defeats Scar
Part III: Return—
the hero’s journey is complete
The last task
• The final fight is not enough
– Hero must draw upon experience gained
during the quest and change the status quo
• Hero at last shows personal and spiritual
growth gained during the quest
– A spiritual climax in addition to
the physical climax
R
E
T
U
R
N
Part III
Harry Potter
Luke
Skywalker
status quo
changed
Voldemort
known to have
returned.
Harry is more
confident and
leads an
exciting life.
The Rebel
Alliance
achieves a
major victory
against the
Empire. Luke
living an
exciting life.
hero shows
wisdom
(spiritual
climax)
Harry figures
out
Dumbledore’s
puzzle of the
Sorcerer’s
Stone.
Luke puts
aside the
technology and
trusts in The
Force.
Peter Parker
Peter is more
confident.
He’s
comfortable
around Mary
Jane and with
his powers.
Peter dedicates
himself to
Uncle Ben’s
philosophy.
Simba
He returns
Pride Rock
to it’s
former
glory, and
starts a
family of
his own.
Simba
realizes that
his family
does not
blame him
for his
father’s
death.
Recent texts that used
the Heroic Quest as their text structure:
• The Star Wars series
• The Matrix trilogy
• The Lord of the Rings trilogy
– Who is the real hero, according to this
pattern? It’s probably not who you think!
•
•
•
•
Spider-Man
The Harry Potter series
The Lion King
Batman
"The adventure is its own reward but it's necessarily dangerous, having
both negative and positive
possibilities, all of them beyond
control."
—Joseph Campbell
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