The Hero's Journey In The Lightning Thief And The Iliad

2237 words - 9 pages

“Being a half-blood is dangerous. It's scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways.” (Riordan, 1) The Lightning Thief begins with the typical introduction of a potential hero, in this case, Percy Jackson who is described as an oddball. He believes that he has ADHD, is dyslexic, and does not really fit in with any crowd. (Riordan, 2) Not only does Percy have a rough life at school, but he never knows his birth father and his mother marries a creep that treats both of them poorly. (Riordan, 17) In the Iliad the hero Achilles is introduced, he too was born a demi-god but his fate is slightly different, he is born into a life of near immorality because the only way he is said to die is if Hector from Troy is killed. (Fagles 1990, 79) Achilles is the greatest warrior of the Greek and accepts his fate by setting out to kill Hector (greatest warrior of Troy), regardless of the inevitable outcome. This mindset is typical of that of a Hero. These depictions of Percy and Achilles parallel the lifestyle that Joseph Campbell describes as in a Hero’s Journey. Although every aspect of the Hero’s Journey is not touched upon by The Lightning Thief and The Iliad novels, Percy Jackson and Achilles are perfect candidates to be heroes. The early lifestyle of Percy being a misunderstood teenager and Achilles being a relentless great warrior sets the basis for them to separate from society, be tested and challenged by supernatural obstacles, conquer those obstacles, and in Percy’s case he could finally return home with a greater understanding of who he is, and in Achilles case he accepts the fate of death. Also, it is mind-boggling to see how the theory of a scholar can be applied to stories that were told long before and after his time. This will be explained as the similarities of these stories are compared to the Hero’s Journey in context to show where they agree. While keeping in mind the question of how a scholar’s theories from the 20th century seem to align with both ancient and modern stories.
Right off the bat, Percy is unknowingly challenged with his call to adventure. (Introduction to the Hero, 10) He is on what he thought would be an average field trip to a museum. But, after an altercation with what could be considered the class bully, he ends up accidentally pushing her down by subconsciously controlling water from a fountain behind her. This incident seems to trigger a sense by one of his teachers who brings him to a secluded room and starts to act strange. She transforms into what is known as a fury and begins to attack Percy. Luckily, he gets supernatural aid (Introduction to the Hero, 12) when he is saved by his other teacher, Mr. Brunner, who throws him a pen that turns into a sword which Percy uses to destroy the fury. This occasion is Percy’s call to adventure (Introduction to the Hero, 10) because it is at this time that he realizes something weird is going on in his life. After the incident, everyone acts as if nothing...

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