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Bowie State University The Heroic Journey Essay

Bowie State University The Heroic Journey Essay

Question Description

I’m working on a literature question and need guidance to help me learn.

the assignment is below read CAREFULLY


The topic of this class is Heroes, Antiheroes, and Superheroes, so we’re starting the course by thinking about who a hero is and what a hero does. There are a lot of different definitions of a hero. In American literature, one influential theory about the hero comes from the critic Joseph Campbell and his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, first published in 1949. Campbell developed the idea of the Hero’s Journey — a story pattern that he believed existed across many centuries and cultures. According to Campbell, this pattern defines heroic stories and separates them from other kinds of stories.

The idea of identifying a basic plot outline or formula that traditional stories follow has been important to the Structuralist theory of literature and folklore for a long time. Vladimir Propp described a basic pattern for folktales; Lord Raglan formulated what he called a “monomyth” of ancient heroes in Indo-European cultures. Campbell combined the monomyth with Jungian psychological archetypes to explain “the hero’s journey.” The point of this structuralist approach is not to invalidate the stories, but rather to recognize how deeply they are embedded in the cultures that produced them — and to recognize how meaningful that story formula still is to modern cultures. It’s also very interesting to analyze particular stories to see where they follow the pattern and where they veer off and do something different, and to think about why.

Modern critics have suggested that Campbell’s theory of the hero’s journey is flawed: for instance, they point out that it doesn’t acknowledge cultural differences that alter heroic stories, and that it focuses too much on the stories of male heroes and ignores women, and that it is too general to be truly useful in analyzing stories. However, despite its critics, Campbell’s theory has been extremely influential in American culture. For example, George Lucas based his plot for Star Wars on Campbell’s ideas, other blockbuster books and movies like the Harry Potter series and The Matrix fit into Campbell’s pattern, and screenwriting books and other resources for writers often suggest using Campbell’s pattern as a basis for crafting the next big hit.


To learn about Campbell’s theory of the Hero’s Journey and how it relates to ancient myths and 20th century psychological theories, watch the video below.

“The Hero’s Journey and the Monomyth: Crash Course World Mythology #25” (about 13 minutes long) (Links to an external site.)

After you have watched the video, write a discussion post where you respond to the following questions. Your post should be 2-3 paragraphs long.

  • What is your definition of a hero and why? Give an example to illustrate your definition.
  • How does your definition of a hero relate to the heroic journey and/or the character types explained in this video? Do you think your definition fits with Campbell’s definition of the hero or do you have a different take? What flaws can you think of in Campbell’s theory?
  • Think of a book, movie, tv show, or game that uses the heroic journey as the basis for its plot (preferably one that wasn’t mentioned in the video). Explain what it is and how the heroic journey appears in it. See if you can think of something unusual that your classmates might not be familiar with!

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