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The Modern Heroine: I Am Malala

1914 words - 8 pages

Joseph Campbell describes the hero’s journey as a quest where the “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 on his fellow man” (Campbell 7). The heroine’s quest, according to Valerie Estelle Frankel includes “battling through pain and intolerance, through the thorns of adversity, through death and beyond to rescue loved ones” (Frankel 11). Contrary to the hero’s journey, the heroine’s journey focuses on the “culture on the idealization of the masculine” while the hero’s journey focuses on the adventures. In the inspiring autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai represents a heroine because she goes through the stages of the heroine’s journey as she refuses to be silenced and risks death to confront the Taliban on behalf of the young Pakistani girls that are deprived of education. The stages of the journey include the ordinary world, the call to adventure, the supernatural aid, the crossing of the first threshold, the road of trials, the ordeal, death and rebirth, and the return with the elixir.
Malala’s journey begins in the ordinary world. This is where the heroine is in “a special world, a world that is new and alien to [her]” (Campbell 54). “The hero[ine], uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma. The hero[ine] is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history” (Volger). Malala notices that she is born in a society where the males are glorified while the females are oppressed. She states, “I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children” (Yousafzai 13). She finds it strange that the females are restricted and are only supposed to have babies and take care of the household. Malala knows that something isn’t right but she still goes about her daily life.
As Malala’s journey progresses, she gets a call to adventure. In this stage “something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within” so she must face the beginnings of change (Volger). The call is usually delivered through a messenger (Jung). Malala gets her call through Ghulamullah’s opposition to the girls attending Mr. Yousafzai’s school. Ghulamullah considers himself as an Islamic scholar and he thinks that he has authority in enforcing the Islamic law. He is very conservative and does not think it is modest for the young girls to attend the same school as the boys. He believes that the girls should be kept under wraps inside the house. So in efforts of shutting down Mr. Yousafzai’s school, Ghulamullah tells the woman...

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