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Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' Monomyth

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' Monomyth

Separation | Initiation | Return | See also

 

Joseph Campbell defined a classic sequence of actions that are found in many stories. It is also known as the Monomyth, a term Campbell coined from James Joyce's Finnigan's Wake.

I. Separation / departure

The first section of the story is about the separation of the hero from the normal world. Separation has symbolic echo of infant transition away from the mother and so has a scary feel to it.

 

  I.1 The Call to Adventure
  I.2 Refusal of the Call

Acceptance of the Call

  I.3 Supernatural Aid
  I.4 Crossing of the First Threshold
  I.5 Entering the Belly of the Whale

 

II. Initiation

In the main part of the story the hero is initiated into true heroic stature by various trials and rites. Through daring and battle, the true character emerges.

 

  II.1 Road of Trials
  II.2 The Meeting with the Goddess
  II.3 Woman as Temptress
  II.4 Atonement with the Father
  II.5 Apotheosis
  II.6 The Ultimate Boon


III. Return

After initiation the hero can cleansed and return in triumph to deserved recognition, although this in itself may not be without its trials and tribulations.

 

  III.1 Refusal of the Return
  III.2 Magic Flight
  III.3 Rescue From Without
  III.4 Crossing of the Return Threshold
  III.5 Master of the Two Worlds
  III.6 Freedom to Live

 

As with other frameworks, Campbell receives his fair share of criticism, typically that not all stories are like this. His much-admired and much-copied pattern has also been criticized as leading to 'safe' movie-making, in which writers use his structure as a template, thus leading to 'boring' repeats, albeit in different clothes. The same has been said about Shakespeare, of course, as well as other classic writers.

See also

Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale, Vogler's story structure

Campbell, J. (1949). The Hero With a Thousand Faces, New York: Bollingen

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