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Refusal of the Call

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' > Refusal of the Call

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Previous: The Call to Adventure

Next: Acceptance of the Call

 

Description

The hero, hearing the call to adventure, initially may hesitate, reluctant to leave the comfort and tasks of their everyday existence.

Perhaps they are afraid of what might happen the them. Perhaps they do not see the call as important, being more engrossed in their current activity. Perhaps they have responsibilities and do not want to leave their family. The refusal may well be prompted by an individual, such as with Propp's Interdiction.

Example

Sherlock Holmes often refuses cases initially, seeing them as beneath his intellect until some fascinating detail awakens his interest.

In Star Wars, Luke's uncle Owen reminds him of his responsibilities at home.

Discussion

In the introduction to the story we may already have been shown the need for the hero. However, the hero's initial denial, modesty or other refusal to respond positively to the call frustrates us, initiating tension in the story.

The hero's refusal may also make the hero more human and further bond us to them. It shows their initial frail state, before the transformation that will happen to them in the story.

Note that there may be a similarity here with the Kόbler-Ross grief cycle, where some tragedy or disturbance occurs and the hero is initially shocked, angry and refuses the Call whilst bargaining for some alternative (such as sending someone else).

See also

Interdiction: Hero is warned

 

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

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