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The Hero’s Journey Essay

Over the course of thousands of years, human beings have been at the center of creative activity. From the time our ancient ancestors first communicated using rudimentary language in the prehistoric period, they have created their own basic stories. As such, storytelling is an innate part of humanity as well as an instinct. Since we were born, we have been exposed to countless stories from such as movies, novels, TV shows, myths, fairy tales, and even from the conversations in our daily lives. These stories recall us of one fact: there is a certain common pattern, which often is called archetypes, in stories that capture the minds. A renowned mythologist and writer Joseph defined a feature common in stories as ‘the Monomyth of the Hero’ in his book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, published in 1949. This consistent story-telling structure is the most commonly used motif in storytelling all over the world because it resonates with people’s minds and applies in our reality, drawing universal sympathy. A primary example of “The Hero’s Journey” from contemporary popular culture would be Harry Potter. In addition, each of the stages allows us to experience indirectly becoming better human beings and help us feel confident. According to Joseph Campbell, the heroes often go through the three primary sections of departure, initiation, and return. They expand into a total of seventeen more specific stages. This paper will elaborate on the phases of the hero’s journey and describe connection between the hero’s journey and our lives.

The first step of the hero’s journey is the departure. At this stage, the beginning of the story, the hero spends each day boringly, or sometimes miserably, in the ordinary world, knowing nothing of his true self and values inherent in him. For Harry Potter, he is living in wretchedness in a cupboard under the stairs in his aunt’s house after the death of his parents. These surroundings sometimes make heroes feel out-of-place.

Soon enough, the hero gets his wake up call, which is known as the stage of the “call to adventure.” According to Campbell, he states that “A blunder ―apparently the merest chance― reveals an unsuspected world, and the individual is drawn into a relationship with forces that are no rightly understood” (Campbell 51). The heroes’ typical environment can’t make them move on to a better self. However, most heroes are reluctant to get out of their comfort zone to journey on a quest. In Harry’s case, he receives and reads the letter from Hogwarts School asking him to enter the magical world on his eleventh birthday.

Harry’s reaction to the letter trying to lead him to the new world is quite obvious: ”Hagrid,’ he said quietly, ‘I think you must have made a mistake. I don’t think I can be a wizard” (Rowling 58). Campbell describes this stage as the “refusal of the call”. Getting out of one’s familiar environment and into a new world would call for great courage and threaten his established identity. The hero may feel fear of his future, which would be no different than our own response. However, at a certain point, the hero must accept the call since rejecting the request poses a greater threat to his ordinary life.

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On this next step of the hero’s journey, the hero is given a Supernatural Aid. This could take the form of mentors or friends who will provide the guidance the hero so desperately needs. Campbell explains that “what such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny” (Campbell 59). For Harry Potter, he has Hagrid, Albus Dumbledore, Sirius Black, or even Severus Snape as Supernatural Aids. When Harry faces a crucial challenge, there is always a mentor nearby him who helps him get out of danger.

The next step in the hero’s journey is the “Crossing of the Threshold”. Whether willing or forced, the hero must leave the ordinary world and enters the field of adventure. Examples include Harry’s crossing the barrier to Platform 9 3/4 with the Weasleys, and Dorothy’s running away from home just before a big storm hits with her beloved puppy Toto. In this stage, the hero’s journey officially begins.

After experiencing the unknown world, the hero is thrown into the Belly of the Whale.

Each human pursues to live a heroic life. In essence, it taps into our innate human desire to become better versions of ourselves. It gives us a sense that real, meaningful transformation is possible. It shows us that we can become stronger, overcome our inner and outer obstacles, and win the day. Where storytelling becomes incredibly powerful, though, is when it connects to us on a deeper, more fundamental level. There’s something about it that appeals to the deep-seeded psychological patterns and tendencies that all (or at least most) humans have.

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