Harry Potter And The Monomyth Essay

1984 words - 8 pages

“Monomyth” is the original term for a “hero’s journey.” Joseph Campbell coined the term, and defines the hero’s journey as a situation in which:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons upon his fellow man.” (Campbell 23)

One can see the hero’s journey structure in a multitude of movies and literature from both the past and present. In George Lucas’s Star Wars, young Anakin leaves his mother behind to join the Jedi forces, later turns on them to join the Dark Side; Luke Skywalker goes on a journey, joining the Rebel Alliance, destroying the corrupted Republic (Vogler). Simba from Disney’s The Lion King loses his father, the king, is exiled, and must regain the throne from his evil uncle, Scar—much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet must. Young Frodo must go on a journey throughout Middle Earth to destroy the one ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In both the Odyssey and the Beowulf, two men go on adventures in strange lands, learning more about themselves while saving innocents (Taylor). While the characters are different, and the goals may vary slightly, all have a very similar structure. There are seventeen stages in a hero’s journey, divided into three groups, which consist of the Departure, the Initiation, and the Return.

As a whole, the Harry Potter series can be seen as a complete hero’s journey. Each book, however, can bee seen as a single journey within the whole. Take, for example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbiDWYuMDU8]

The first stage is Departure and has five steps, the first of which being The Call to Adventure, or the first sign the hero (in this case, Harry Potter) has that his life is going to change.In The Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry gets his "Letter from No One." The viewer sees this throughout each book, as Harry returns to Howarts for school every August. In Harry’s journey as a whole the call to adventure can also be seen when the prophecy is revealed. Refusal of the Call is defined as the hero being compelled to hold back from his adventure for some reason. In the first novel, Harry tells Hagrid "I think you must have made a mistake. I don't think I can be a wizard." (Rowling 58) Harry never really sees himself as a hero, most likely due to his “modest” upbringing in the Dursley household.

When the hero commits to the adventure his guide or magical helper appears or becomes known. This Supernatural Aid stage is prevalent throughout the series, and focuses mainly on Dumbledore. Dumbledore works through other people, such as Hagrid and Snape to lead Harry on his journey. The reader can also look at Lily's sacrifice, or love in general as an aid in Harry’s quest. Harry Crosses the First Threshold when he hero leaves the world he is used to and enters the...

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