In Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, he talks about the “Monomyth,” otherwise better known as, the “Hero’s Journey”. This is the major theme throughout this book as well as the majority of Joseph Campbell’s studies. Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey can be seen in many books, movies, television series, etc. That is an idea I will discuss at a later date. For this paper I would like to discuss and explain the hero’s journey, as well as give my opinions on the idea. This is a very interesting and eye opening idea that Campbell has presented us with and has made The Hero With A Thousand Faces one of the most important books of the past one hundred years.
First, what is the monomyth or the hero’s journey? Well The University of California at Berkeley defines the “Hero’s Journey” as “The tale every culture tells. The journey's path is described variously, but in general it includes the call to adventure, a supernatural aide or mentor, initiation by trials and adventures, victory, and return.” There are seventeen stages of the journey, and not all of them are used in every myth. Some myths may only use a handful and some my use ten of them, but they are used in some way or another and are repeated throughout different religions, which raises some questions in my mind which I will discuss later. For the sake of length I will be discussing the divisions of the stages rather than each individual stage itself. The divisions are separated as follows, Departure, Initiation, and Return.
The Departure division is made up of the five first stages, The Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Supernatural Aid, The Crossing of the First Threshold, and The Belly of the Whale. This division can simply be described as the stage where the hero leaves his/her realm of norm or comfort to venture and explore the world of darkness or unknown. This is perhaps the most common division you see in myths and most of the time the easiest to recognize. For example, in Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus is “called to action” by Agamemnon. He then “refuses the call” for one month before he then “crosses the first threshold” by finally deciding to leave Ithaca to Join the Atrides in their battle to conquer Troy and return Helen to her husband. Another Example of the departure stage can be seen in the Buddha’s journey to spiritual awakening (Nirvana). Through the first portion of the myth the Buddha is confronted by a handful of “supernatural aids” that ultimately inspire the Buddha to “cross the first threshold” and set out on his quest to achieve spiritual awakening. These two myths are just a couple examples of this division, and there are many more that follow these same stages.
Next, is the Initiation division, which is made up...