Throughout history courageous, unselfish, sacrificial acts have described ‘heroes’ as unique individuals that served their communities above and beyond the norm. Song lyrics from the 1930s to 1970s have praised and denounced heroic actions found in songs by Jimmie Driftwood, The Battle of New Orleans (1936), and Mitch Murray and Peter Callander’s, Billy Don’t Be A Hero (1974) along with songs like John Henry (1870), John Brown’s Body (1861), and many others. Humanity craves heroes regardless of the culture or worldview people need to have something or someone to worship, admire, emulate, or detest; Joseph Campbell attempts and succeeds in describing in detail the arduous journey one must survive and endure to be reborn through the world navel and become the hero. Whether the hero is a favorite sports figure or singer/song writer or movie/television star or just a simple mom/dad trying to do the best they can for their children each has undergone moments of despair while in the dark valleys or exaltation of the mountain top to become the hero in the eye of the public or within the soul of themselves. “And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal---carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair” (Campbell, 337).
As can be seen in the story of Jonah as related in the second chapter of Jonah in the King James Version:
“Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, 2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about; the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. 10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
Personal anguish and agony of the hero portrayed in the story of Jonah can find a parallel within the pages of The Hero with a Thousand Faces; whether metaphorically or within the bounds of reality the hero struggles against great odds to overcome and be triumphant or disgraced in self-apathy. “The hero, therefore is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms....