The Hero’s Journey
“The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us; the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, and the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find.” (Phil Cousineau) The Hero's Journey has been engaged in stories for an immemorial amount of time. These stories target typical connections that help us relate to ourselves as well as the “real world”.
Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, is best known for the work he has done in mythology and religion. His work is massive, covering a variety of characteristics of the human experience. An important work that he has developed is the path of the “Hero’s Journey”. This is a buildings roman story that helps the character find themselves throughout their given experience. In the novel “Song of Solomon” by Tori Morrison, Morrison explains with great detail the Hero’s Journey that Macon encounters. Through his journey, he encounters life changing experiences that shaped him into the person he grew up to be.
Joseph Campbell describes the hero's journey as taking place in a cycle that consists of three most important phases, which are the following: Departure, which is where the hero leaves his/her comfortable and familiar world and endeavors into the unknown; Initiation, where the hero is tried with a series of tests, which he/she must prove their character; and Return, where the hero brings the benefit of his quest back for the benefit of his people. The hero's journey is about growth and passage. This journey involves a separation from the normal, known world, and a beginning into a new level of attentiveness, ability, and accountability, followed by the return home. Each stage of the journey must be passed successfully if the initiate is to become a hero. In “Song of Solomon”, the primary character Macon “Milkyway” Dead III, is able to take responsibility over his own life and convert himself in the eyes of those around him by building real, substantial changes in his life, looking into his family history, and taking flight in the direction of his future with assurance.
In order for heroes to begin the journey they are called upon, they have to be called to a new environment and away from the normal world. Most heroes show a lack of enthusiasm to leave their home, their friends, and their life to journey on a quest, but in the end they accept their fate. Frequently there is a discovery, some event, or some danger that accompanies their start to the heroic path. Heroes find a mystical object or discover their new world is in danger. Campbell describes this experience as “A blunder the merest chance reveals an unsuspected...