Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hero's Journey

Our friends are mapping the Hero's Journey for AVATAR: The Last Airbender. Their enthusiasm inspired this post.
First I gratefully acknowledge Joseph Campbell who laid it out so beautifully in his seminal work, "Hero With a Thousand Faces." He's not the only one in the discussion, but there is no discussion without him. And he's so quotable scroll down to see.

Click here for an outlined explanation of the Hero's Journey.

Lots of maps are available online. Here is one.

1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
2. they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE.
3. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
4. are encouraged by a MENTOR to
5. CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where
6. they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.
7. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold
8. where they endure the ORDEAL.
9. They take possession of their REWARD and
10. are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
11. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.
12. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.

The Seven Archetypes

Hero: "The Hero is the protagonist or central character, whose primary purpose is to separate from the ordinary world and sacrifice himself for the service of the Journey at hand - to answer the challenge, complete the quest and restore the Ordinary World's balance. We experience the Journey through the eyes of the Hero."
Mentor: "The Mentor provides motivation, insights and training to help the Hero."
Threshold Guardian: "Threshold Guardians protect the Special World and its secrets from the Hero, and provide essential tests to prove a Hero's commitment and worth."
Herald: "Herald characters issue challenges and announce the coming of significant change. They can make their appearance anytime during a Journey, but often appear at the beginning of the Journey to announce a Call to Adventure. A character may wear the Herald's mask to make an announcement or judgment, report a news flash, or simply deliver a message."
Shapeshifter: "The Shapeshifter's mask misleads the Hero by hiding a character's intentions and loyalties."
Shadow: "The Shadow can represent our darkest desires, our untapped resources, or even rejected qualities. It can also symbolize our greatest fears and phobias. Shadows may not be all bad, and may reveal admirable, even redeeming qualities. The Hero's enemies and villains often wear the Shadow mask. This physical force is determined to destroy the Hero and his cause."
Trickster: "Tricksters relish the disruption of the status quo, turning the Ordinary World into chaos with their quick turns of phrase and physical antics. Although they may not change during the course of their Journeys, their world and its inhabitants are transformed by their antics. The Trickster uses laughter [and ridicule] to make characters see the absurdity of the situation, and perhaps force a change."

The Smithsonian has an online interactive exhibit exploring the hero's journey in Star Wars.

Who are your heroes? Where are you in your the journey as the hero of your own story?

"My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it."

Joseph Campbell
The Power of Myth
pp. 120, 149

1 comment:

Miranda J said...

Emily -

This is great stuff! I LOVE the hero's journey.

And - you must check out The Hero Construction Workshop. I think your kids will like it.


Matt Langdon did a great workshop at my kids' school.