Monomyth

Monomyth

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Monomyth'
Start a new discussion about 'Monomyth'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

's term monomyth, also referred to as the hero's journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narrative
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

s from around the world. This widely distributed pattern was described by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces
The Hero with a Thousand Faces
The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a non-fiction book, and seminal work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell...

(1949). An enthusiast of novelist James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

, Campbell borrowed the term monomyth from Joyce's Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake is a novel by Irish author James Joyce, significant for its experimental style and resulting reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language. Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, and published in 1939, two years before the author's...

.

Campbell held that numerous myths from disparate times and regions share fundamental structures and stages, which he summarized in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:
Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann
Erich Neumann (psychologist)
Erich Neumann , was a psychologist, writer, and one of Carl Jung's most gifted students.-Career:Neumann was born in Berlin. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in 1927. He later moved to Tel Aviv. For many years, he regularly returned to Zürich, Switzerland to give lectures at the...

, describe narratives of Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, and Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 in terms of the monomyth and Campbell argues that classic myths from many cultures follow this basic pattern.

Summary



In a monomyth, the hero begins in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unknown world of strange powers and events. The hero who accepts the call to enter this strange world must face tasks and trials, either alone or with assistance. In the most intense versions of the narrative, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help. If the hero survives, he may achieve a great gift or "boon." The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, he or she often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero returns successfully, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world. The stories of Osiris
Osiris
Osiris is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and...

, Prometheus
Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

, Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

, for example, follow this structure closely.

Campbell describes 17 stages or steps along this journey. Very few myths contain all 17 stages—some myths contain many of the stages, while others contain only a few; some myths may focus on only one of the stages, while other myths may deal with the stages in a somewhat different order. These 17 stages may be organized in a number of ways, including division into three sections: Departure (sometimes called Separation), Initiation, and Return. "Departure" deals with the hero's adventure
Adventure
An adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. The term is often used to refer to activities with some potential for physical danger, such as skydiving, mountain climbing and or participating in extreme sports...

 prior to the quest; "Initiation" deals with the hero's many adventures along the way; and "Return" deals with the hero's return home with knowledge and powers acquired on the journey.

The Call to Adventure


The hero starts off in a mundane situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.

Campbell: "This first stage of the mythological journey—which we have designated the 'call to adventure'—signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father's city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur
Minotaur
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur , as the Greeks imagined him, was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, "part man and part bull"...

; or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent as was Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

, driven about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god, Poseidon. The adventure may begin as a mere blunder ... or still again, one may be only casually strolling when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man. Examples might be multiplied, ad infinitum, from every corner of the world."

Classic examples: Sometimes the call to adventure happens of the character's own choice. In Herman Hesse's Siddhartha
Siddhartha (novel)
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.The book, Hesse's ninth novel , was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential...

, the titular character becomes weary of his way of life and decides he must venture away from his accustomed life in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. In narratives describing the Buddha's journey, he leaves his ordinary life in pursuit of spiritual awakening after observing three men: an old man, a sick man, and a dead man, and raising the question as to why misery exists in the human world. Other times, the hero is plunged into adventure by unforeseen events. In Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 is caught in the terrible winds of the angered god Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 and sent off to distant lands.

Refusal of the Call


Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

Campbell: "Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or 'culture,' the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless—even though, like King Minos, he may through titanic effort succeed in building an empire or renown. Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his minotaur. All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration."

Classic examples: Mythology is rife with examples of what happens to those who refuse the call too long or do not take it seriously. In Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian is a term used in the United States since the 1940s to refer to standards of ethics said to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, for example the Ten Commandments...

 belief, Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

's wife is turned into a pillar of salt for looking back with longing to her old life when she had been summoned forth from her city by Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 and is thus prevented from being the "hero". One of the clearest references to the refusal and its consequences comes in the voice of the personified Wisdom in Proverbs 1:24-27 and 32:
Because I have called, and ye refused ... I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. ... For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Supernatural Aid


Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid them later in their quest.

Campbell: "For those who have not refused the call, the first encounter of the herojourney is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass. What such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny. The fantasy is a reassurance—promise that the peace of Paradise, which was known first within the mother womb, is not to be lost; that it supports the present and stands in the future as well as in the past (is omega as well as alpha); that though omnipotence may seem to be endangered by the threshold passages and life awakenings, protective power is always and ever present within or just behind the unfamiliar features of the world. One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear. Having responded to his own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the consequences unfold, the hero finds all the forces of the unconscious at his side. Mother Nature herself supports the mighty task. And in so far as the hero's act coincides with that for which his society is ready, he seems to ride on the great rhythm of the historical process."

Classic example: In Greek mythology, Ariadne
Ariadne
Ariadne , in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and was the bride of the god Dionysus.-Minos and Theseus:...

 gives Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

 a ball of string and a sword before he enters the labyrinth
Labyrinth
In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos...

 to confront the Minotaur
Minotaur
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur , as the Greeks imagined him, was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, "part man and part bull"...

.

The Crossing of the First Threshold


This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

Campbell: "With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the 'threshold guardian' at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions—also up and down—standing for the limits of the hero's present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades."

Belly of The Whale


The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.

Campbell: "The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died. This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshipper into a temple—where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely dust and ashes unless immortal. The temple interior, the belly of the whale, and the heavenly land beyond, above, and below the confines of the world, are one and the same. That is why the approaches and entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarfs, winged bulls. The devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis. Once inside he may be said to have died to time and returned to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Paradise. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and the hero-dive through the jaws of the whale are identical adventures, both denoting in picture language, the life-centering, life-renewing act."

Classical example: In the story of Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

, Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

 sends hungry titans
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

 to devour the infant Dionysus. The Titans tear apart the child and consume his flesh. However Dionysus's heart is saved by Hestia
Hestia
In Greek mythology Hestia , first daughter of Cronus and Rhea , is the virgin goddess of the hearth, architecture, and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family. She received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household. In the public domain, the hearth of the prytaneum...

, goddess of the hearth, allowing Dionysus to be reborn as a god.

The Road of Trials


The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

Campbell: "Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials. This is a favorite phase of the myth-adventure. It has produced a world literature of miraculous tests and ordeals. The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that he here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage. The original departure into the land of trials represented only the beginning of the long and really perilous path of initiatory conquests and moments of illumination. Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed—again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land."

Classical Example: "In fitting in the theme of tests often occurring in threes, Jesus is tempted by Satan three times in the desert. Jesus passes each of these three temptations, and the narrative moves more firmly to Jesus' divinity."

The Meeting With the Goddess


This is the point when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely.

Campbell: "The ultimate adventure, when all the barriers and ogres have been overcome, is commonly represented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World. This is the crisis at the nadir, the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of the heart. The meeting with the goddess (who is incarnate in every woman) is the final test of the talent of the hero to win the boon of love (charity: amor fati), which is life itself enjoyed as the encasement of eternity. And when the adventurer, in this context, is not a youth but a maid, she is the one who, by her qualities, her beauty, or her yearning, is fit to become the consort of an immortal. Then the heavenly husband descends to her and conducts her to his bed—whether she will or not. And if she has shunned him, the scales fall from her eyes; if she has sought him, her desire finds its peace."

Woman as Temptress


In this step, the hero faces those temptations that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Campbell: "The crux of the curious difficulty lies in the fact that our conscious views of what life ought to be seldom correspond to what life really is. Generally we refuse to admit within ourselves, or within our friends, the fullness of that pushing, self-protective, malodorous, carnivorous, lecherous fever which is the very nature of the organic cell. Rather, we tend to perfume, whitewash, and reinterpret; meanwhile imagining that all the flies in the ointment, all the hairs in the soup, are the faults of some unpleasant someone else. But when it suddenly dawns on us, or is forced to our attention that everything we think or do is necessarily tainted with the odor of the flesh, then, not uncommonly, there is experienced a moment of revulsion: life, the acts of life, the organs of life, woman in particular as the great symbol of life, become intolerable to the pure, the pure, pure soul. The seeker of the life beyond life must press beyond (the woman), surpass the temptations of her call, and soar to the immaculate ether beyond."

Atonement with the Father


In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.

Campbell: "Atonement consists in no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster—the dragon thought to be God (superego) and the dragon thought to be Sin (repressed id). But this requires an abandonment of the attachment to ego itself, and that is what is difficult. One must have a faith that the father is merciful, and then a reliance on that mercy. Therewith, the center of belief is transferred outside of the bedeviling god's tight scaly ring, and the dreadful ogres dissolve. It is in this ordeal that the hero may derive hope and assurance from the helpful female figure, by whose magic (pollen charms or power of intercession) he is protected through all the frightening experiences of the father's ego-shattering initiation. For if it is impossible to trust the terrifying father-face, then one's faith must be centered elsewhere (Spider Woman, Blessed Mother); and with that reliance for support, one endures the crisis—only to find, in the end, that the father and mother reflect each other, and are in essence the same. The problem of the hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand how the sickening and insane tragedies of this vast and ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar blind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source. He beholds the face of the father, understands—and the two are atoned."

Apotheosis


When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.

Campbell: "Those who know, not only that the Everlasting lies in them, but that what they, and all things, really are is the Everlasting, dwell in the groves of the wish fulfilling trees, drink the brew of immortality, and listen everywhere to the unheard music of eternal concord."

The Ultimate Boon


The ultimate boon is the achievement or the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

Campbell: "The gods and goddesses then are to be understood as embodiments and custodians of the elixir of Imperishable Being but not themselves the Ultimate in its primary state. What the hero seeks through his intercourse with them is therefore not finally themselves, but their grace, i.e., the power of their sustaining substance. This miraculous energy-substance and this alone is the Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who everywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and go. This is the miraculous energy of the thunderbolts of Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the ultimate illumination of the saint and sage. Its guardians dare release it only to the duly proven."

Refusal of the Return


Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.

Campbell: "When the hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even the Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being."

The Magic Flight


Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Campbell: "If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commissioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron. On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero's wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit. This flight may be complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion."

Classic examples: In many fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

s and folktales, it is literally a magic flight, with the hero or heroine transforming objects to stop the pursuit (The Master Maid
The Master Maid
The Master Maid is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr. "Master" indicates "superior, skilled." Jørgen Moe wrote the tale down from the storyteller Anne Godlid in Seljord on a short visit in the autumn of 1842.It is...

, The Water Nixie
The Water Nixie
The Water Nixie or The Water-Nix is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 79. It came from Hanau.It is Aarne-Thompson type 313A, the girl helps the hero flee and revolves about a transformation chase...

) or transforming himself and any companions to hide themselves (Farmer Weathersky
Farmer Weathersky
Farmer Weathersky is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Chr. Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in Norske Folkeeventyr.Andrew Lang included it in The Red Fairy Book as "Farmer Weatherbeard"....

or Foundling-Bird
Foundling-Bird
Foundling-Bird is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, number 51.It is Aarne-Thompson type 313A, the girl helps the hero flee, and revolves about a transformation chase...

).

Rescue from Without


Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, oftentimes he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.

Campbell: "The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state. 'Who having cast off the world,' we read, 'would desire to return again? He would be only there.' And yet, in so far as one is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the hero. . . is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock; but on the other hand, if the summoned one is only delayed—sealed in by the beatitude of the state of perfect being (which resembles death)—an apparent rescue is effected, and the adventurer returns."

The Crossing of the Return Threshold


The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.

Campbell: "The returning hero, to complete his adventure, must survive the impact of the world. Many failures attest to the difficulties of this life-affirmative threshold. The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real, after an experience of the soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss? As dreams that were momentous by night may seem simply silly in the light of day, so the poet and the prophet can discover themselves playing the idiot before a jury of sober eyes. The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heavenly rock dwelling, close the door, and make it fast. But if some spiritual obstetrician has drawn the shimenawa across the retreat, then the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity, cannot be avoided"
The hero returns to the world of common day and must accept it as real.

Master of Two Worlds


This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Campbell: "Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of time to that of the causal deep and back—not contaminating the principles of the one with those of the other, yet permitting the mind to know the one by virtue of the other—is the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to another. It is possible to speak from only one point at a time, but that does not invalidate the insights of the rest. The individual, through prolonged psychological disciplines, gives up completely all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears, no longer resists the self-annihilation that is prerequisite to rebirth in the realization of truth, and so becomes ripe, at last, for the great at-one-ment. His personal ambitions being totally dissolved, he no longer tries to live but willingly relaxes to whatever may come to pass in him; he becomes, that is to say, an anonymity."

Biblical application: In the Christ story, Jesus is able to return to the ordinary world after resurrection.

Freedom to Live


Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

Campbell: "The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of things become, because he is. 'Before Abraham was, I AM.' He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the 'other thing'), as destroying the permanent with its change. 'Nothing retains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever makes up forms from forms. Be sure there's nothing perishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew its form.' Thus the next moment is permitted to come to pass."

Biblical application: Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 returns to the ordinary world after his resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

, but not as an ordinary man. He can seem to be as others are and interact with them, but his body is a "glorified" body, capable of assuming visible and palpable form, but freed from the bonds of space and time. He is now able to give life to others through his own death and resurrection. Other traditional examples of something similar are Elijah, Enoch
Enoch (son of Cain)
Enoch, son of Cain, , after whom Cain named the first city he founded, is not the same as the Enoch who was an ancestor of Noah.This Enoch was a son of Cain, grandson of Adam, and father of Irad....

, and Khidr, the "immortal prophet" of the Sufis.

Other formulations


Campbell's proposed structure has been expanded and modified since its conception. Many modern characterizations of it add in new steps (such as the hero having a miraculous birth) or combine or prune others. For instance, Phil Cousineau
Phil Cousineau
Phil Cousineau is an author, lecturer, independent scholar, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker.-Career:Phil Cousineau was born in an army hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. He has worked as a sportswriter and taught screenwriting at the American Film Institute...

, in his book, The Hero's Journey, divides it up into the following eight steps:
  1. The Call to Adventure
  2. The Road of Trials
  3. The Vision Quest
  4. The Meeting with the Goddess
  5. The Boon
  6. The Magic Flight
  7. The Return Threshold
  8. The Master of Two Worlds


Another eight-step formulation was given by David Adams Leeming in his book, Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero:
  1. Miraculous conception and birth
  2. Initiation of the hero-child
  3. Withdrawal from family or community for meditation and preparation
  4. Trial and Quest
  5. Death
  6. Descent into the underworld
  7. Resurrection and rebirth
  8. Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement

The Hero's Journey


The phrase "the hero's journey," to describe the monomyth, first entered into popular discourse through two documentaries. The first, released in 1987, The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell, was accompanied by a 1990 companion book, The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (with Phil Cousineau
Phil Cousineau
Phil Cousineau is an author, lecturer, independent scholar, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker.-Career:Phil Cousineau was born in an army hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. He has worked as a sportswriter and taught screenwriting at the American Film Institute...

 and Stuart Brown, eds.). The second was Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965 to 1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers has had an extensive involvement with public...

's series of seminal interviews with Campbell, released in 1988 as the documentary (and companion book) The Power of Myth
The Power of Myth
The companion book for the series, The Power of Myth, was released in 1988 at the same time the series aired on PBS...

. The phrase was then referenced in the title of a popular guidebook for screenwriters, released in the 1990s, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers is a popular screenwriting textbook by writer Christopher Vogler, focusing on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes, described through mythological allegory.Vogler based this...

, by Christopher Vogler
Christopher Vogler
Christopher Vogler is a Hollywood development executive best known for his guide for screenwriters, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers.-Career:...

 http://www.thewritersjourney.com/generic1.html. Though they used the phrase in their works, Cousineau, Moyers, and Vogler all attribute the phrase and the model of The Hero's Journey to Joseph Campbell.

Influence of the Monomyth


The monomyth has influenced a number of artists, musicians, poets, and filmmakers, including Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 and George Lucas
George Lucas
George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones...

. Mickey Hart
Mickey Hart
Mickey Hart is an American percussionist and musicologist. He is best known as one of the two drummers of the rock band the Grateful Dead. He was a member of the Grateful Dead from September 1967 to February 1971, and from October 1974 to August 1995...

, Bob Weir
Bob Weir
Bob Weir is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, most recognized as a founding member of the Grateful Dead. After the Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995, Weir performed with The Other Ones, later known as The Dead, together with other former members of the Grateful Dead...

 and Jerry Garcia
Jerry Garcia
Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia was an American musician best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead...

 of the Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long...

 had long noted Campbell's influence and agreed to participate in a seminar with him in 1986 entitled From Ritual to Rapture.

Campbell's work has been consciously applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists, for example, in creating screenplays for movies. The best known is perhaps George Lucas
George Lucas
George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones...

, who has acknowledged a debt to Campbell regarding both the original Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

trilogy
Trilogy
A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, or video games...

 and its prequels.

J.R.R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

can be seen as another contemporary example of the monomyth.

George Lucas and Star Wars


George Lucas
George Lucas
George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones...

's deliberate use of Campbell's theory of the monomyth in the making of the Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

movies is well documented. In addition to the extensive discussion between Campbell and Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965 to 1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers has had an extensive involvement with public...

 broadcast in 1988 on PBS as The Power of Myth
The Power of Myth
The companion book for the series, The Power of Myth, was released in 1988 at the same time the series aired on PBS...

(Filmed at "Skywalker Ranch
Skywalker Ranch
Skywalker Ranch is the name of the workplace of film director and producer George Lucas. It is located in a secluded, but open area near Nicasio, California, in Marin County. The ranch is located on Lucas Valley Road, although Lucas is not related to the road's namesake, who was a...

"), on Campbell's influence on the Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

films, Lucas, himself, gave an extensive interview for the biography Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind (Larsen and Larsen, 2002, pages 541-543) on this topic. In this interview, Lucas states that in the early 1970s after completing his early film, American Graffiti
American Graffiti
American Graffiti is a 1973 coming of age film co-written/directed by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford...

, "it came to me that there really was no modern use of mythology...so that's when I started doing more strenuous research on fairy tales, folklore and mythology, and I started reading Joe's books. Before that I hadn't read any of Joe's books.... It was very eerie because in reading The Hero with A Thousand Faces I began to realize that my first draft of Star Wars
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film, written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the...

was following classical motifs"(p. 541).

Twelve years after the making of The Power of Myth
The Power of Myth
The companion book for the series, The Power of Myth, was released in 1988 at the same time the series aired on PBS...

, Moyers and Lucas met again for the 1999 interview, the Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers, to further discuss the impact of Campbell's work on Lucas's films. In addition, the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

 of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 sponsored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth which discussed the ways in which Campbell's work shaped the Star Wars films. A companion guide of the same name was published in 1997.

Chris Vogler, The Writer's Journey, and Hollywood films


Christopher Vogler
Christopher Vogler
Christopher Vogler is a Hollywood development executive best known for his guide for screenwriters, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers.-Career:...

, a Hollywood film producer and writer, created a now-famous 7-page company memo, A Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces, based on Campbell's work which inspired films such as Disney
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures is an American film studio owned by The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Pictures and Television, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Studios and the main production company for live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, based at the Walt Disney...

's 1994 film, The Lion King
The Lion King
The Lion King is a 1994 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series...

/ Vogler's memo was later developed into the late 1990s book, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers is a popular screenwriting textbook by writer Christopher Vogler, focusing on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes, described through mythological allegory.Vogler based this...

. This story structure is evident in a vast number of successful Hollywood films including the Matrix
The Matrix series
The Matrix is a science fiction action franchise created by Andy and Larry Wachowski and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The series began with the 1999 film The Matrix and later spawned two sequels; The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both released in 2003, thus forming a trilogy...

series.

Orson Scott Card and Ender's Game


Michael Collings claims in an article that was initially published in "The Leading Edge: Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy Vol. 16" that in the book, Ender's Game
Ender's Game
Ender's Game is a science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. The book originated as the short story "Ender's Game", published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Elaborating on characters and plot lines depicted in the novel, Card later wrote additional...

, Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card is an American author, critic, public speaker, essayist, columnist, and political activist. He writes in several genres, but is primarily known for his science fiction. His novel Ender's Game and its sequel Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the...

 gives a very complete example of the monomyth structure, with the main character, Ender Wiggin, fulfilling all eight primary stages of it (using Leeming's formulation):
  • Miraculous Birth — In a world where only two children are normally allowed, Ender is born as the third child by special government decree
  • Initiation — Ender shows remarkable intelligence at a young age
  • Withdrawal — Ender is removed from his family and sent to Battle School
  • Trial and Quest — Ender learns of the threat to humanity from the Buggers
  • Death — Ender grows despondent after his unit is broken up, and he is sent back to Earth
  • Descent into the underworld — Ender's sister helps him feel like part of humanity once again
  • Resurrection and rebirth — Ender refuses to play the simulations anymore, and ends the game by destroying the Buggers' homeworld
  • Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement — Ender learns that the simulations were in fact real and has to cope with this.


He says that the narrative structure within Ender's Game doesn't follow this structure in a perfectly linear sense. Many elements of it are actually repeated throughout the book. In his opinion, the latter four steps can also describe the psychological states Ender went through after his realization of what he'd done to the Buggers.

The men's movement


Poet Robert Bly
Robert Bly
Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.-Life:Bly was born in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, to Jacob and Alice Bly, who were of Norwegian ancestry. Following graduation from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving...

, Michael J. Meade
Michael J. Meade
Michael J. Meade was a figure in the Men's Movement of the 1980s and 1990s.His essays have appeared in To Be A Man, Tending the Fire, Wingspan, Walking Swiftly, and The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart. The latter is an anthology of poetry, which he edited with Robert Bly and James Hillman...

, and others involved in the men's movement
Men's movement
The men's movement is a social movement that includes a number of philosophies and organizations that seek to support men, change the male gender role and improve men's rights in regard to marriage, child access and victims of domestic violence...

 have applied and expanded the concepts of the hero's journey and the monomyth as a metaphor for personal spiritual and psychological growth, particularly in the mythopoetic men's movement.

Characteristic of the mythopoetic men's movement is a tendency to retell fairy tales and engage in their exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 as a tool for personal insight. Using frequent references to archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

s as drawn from Jungian
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 analytical psychology
Analytical psychology
Analytical psychology is the school of psychology originating from the ideas of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. His theoretical orientation has been advanced by his students and other thinkers who followed in his tradition. Though they share similarities, analytical psychology is distinct from...

, the movement focuses on issues of gender role
Gender role
Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture, which differ widely between cultures and over time...

, gender identity
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

 and wellness
Wellness (alternative medicine)
Wellness is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. It has been used in the context of alternative medicine since Halbert L. Dunn, M.D., began using the phrase high level wellness in the 1950s...

 for modern men. Advocates would often engage in storytelling
Storytelling
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values...

 with music, these acts being seen as a modern extension to a form of "new age shamanism" popularized by Michael Harner
Michael Harner
Michael Harner is the founder of the and the formulator of "core shamanism." Harner is known for bringing shamanism and shamanic healing to the contemporary Western world...

 at approximately the same time.

Among its most famous advocates were the poet Robert Bly
Robert Bly
Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.-Life:Bly was born in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, to Jacob and Alice Bly, who were of Norwegian ancestry. Following graduation from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving...

, whose book Iron John: A Book About Men
Iron John: A Book About Men
Iron John: A Book About Men is a book by American poet Robert Bly published in 1990 by Addison-Wesley.It analyzes Iron John, a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, in Joseph Campbell fashion, to find lessons especially meaningful to men...

was a best-seller, being an exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 of the fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

 "Iron John
Iron John
"Iron John" is a German fairy tale found in the collections of the Brothers Grimm, tale number 136, about a wild man and a prince...

" by the Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

.

The mythopoetic men's movement spawned a variety of groups and workshops, led by authors such as Bly and Robert L. Moore
Robert L. Moore
Robert L. Moore, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized Jungian psychoanalyst and consultant in private practice in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is: the Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Spirituality in the Chicago Theological Seminary; a Training Analyst at the C.G...

. Some serious academic
Academia
Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

 work came out of this movement, including the creation of various magazines and non-profit organizations, such as the Mankind Project
Mankind Project
ManKind Project is a non-profit, educational organization, with the stated purpose to "support men in leading meaningful lives of integrity, accountability, responsibility, and emotional intelligence."...

.

Criticism



Scholars have questioned the very validity of the monomyth, its usefulness as a tool for critical investigation and interpretation of narrative, and its male bias. According to Lesley Northup, the theory does not have much support in the mainstream study of mythology, which currently tends to view highly general and universal claims with suspicion. Donald J. Consentino remarks, "It is just as important to stress differences as similarities, to avoid creating a (Joseph) Campbell soup of myths that loses all local flavor." Marta Weigle rejects the idea of a "monomyth" in which women appear only exceptionally, and then as indistinguishable from men. Others have found the categories Campbell works with so vague as to be meaningless, and lacking the support required of scholarly argument: Muriel Crespi, writing in response to Campbell's filmed presentation of his model characterized it as "...unsatisfying from a social science perspective. Campbell's ethnocentrism will raise objections, and his analytic level is so abstract and devoid of ethnographic context that myth loses the very meanings supposed to be embedded in the "hero." In Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth (1984), editor Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes, was a folklorist at the University of California, Berkeley. His work was said to have been central to establishing the study of folklore as an academic discipline. He wrote 12 books, both academic and popular, and edited or co-wrote two dozen more...

  dismisses Campbell's work, characterizing him as a popularizer: "like most universalists, he is content to merely assert universality rather than bother to document it. […] If Campbell's generalizations about myth are not substantiated, why should students consider his work?"

Thoughtless use of monomyth structure is often blamed for lack of originality and cliché
Cliché
A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning,...

s in popular culture, especially big-budget Hollywood films. In addition to the popularity of Campbell-influenced guides such as The Writer's Journey, the influential book Screenplay by Syd Field
Syd Field
Syd Field is an American writer who has become one of the most popular screenwriting gurus in the movie industry. Field has written several books on the subject of screenwriting, and holds workshops and seminars around the world that help aspiring and professional screenwriters produce the kind of...

 also proposed an ideal three-act structure, which is easily compatible with modern screenwriters' attempts to craft a monomyth.

The novelist David Brin
David Brin
Glen David Brin, Ph.D. is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards.-Biography:...

 has criticized the monomyth, arguing that it is anti-populist, and was used by kings and priests to justify tyranny. Brin also pointed out that the existence of a monomyth may reflect cross-cultural historical similarities, rather than some deeper "human insight". He points out that, until relatively recently, storytellers were dependent upon the oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

 for their livelihood and that the aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 only recently lost its power to punish irreverence. Once those historical factors disappeared, science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 emerged—a story-telling mode Brin sees as the antithesis of Campbell's monomyth.

In a similar vein, American philosopher John Shelton Lawrence
John Shelton Lawrence
John Shelton Lawrence is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, United States. His initial major publication, The American Monomyth, written with Robert Jewett, was published in 1977.-Career:...

 and American religious scholar Robert Jewett have discussed an "American Monomyth" in many of their books, The American Monomyth, The Myth of the American Superhero, and Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism. They present this as an American reaction to the Campbellian monomyth. The "American Monomyth" storyline is: A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat; a selfless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condition; the superhero then recedes into obscurity.

See also

  • Comparative mythology
    Comparative mythology
    Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics. Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes...

  • Hero
    Hero
    A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

  • List of monomyths
  • Lord Raglan
    FitzRoy Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan
    Major FitzRoy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan was a British soldier, beekeeper, farmer and independent scholar. He is best known for his book The Hero, where he systematises hero myths.- Life :...

  • Otto Rank
    Otto Rank
    Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud's...

  • Spiritual warrior
    Spiritual warrior
    A spiritual warrior is a person who bravely battles with the universal enemy, self-ignorance , the ultimate source of suffering according to dharmic philosophies. The term is applied in religious and metaphysical writing. There are self-described spiritual warriors. The spiritual warrior can be...

  • Vladimir Propp
    Vladimir Propp
    Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp was a Russian and Soviet formalist scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements.- Biography :...


Books based upon interviews with Campbell


  • The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on his Life and Work
    The Hero's Journey (book)
    The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work is a biography of the mythologist Joseph Campbell 1904-1987. In the form of a series of conversations, the book was drawn from the film, The Hero's Journey: A Biographical Portrait...

    Edited and with an Introduction by Phil Cousineau
    Phil Cousineau
    Phil Cousineau is an author, lecturer, independent scholar, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker.-Career:Phil Cousineau was born in an army hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. He has worked as a sportswriter and taught screenwriting at the American Film Institute...

    . Forward by Stuart L. Brown, Executive Editor. New York: Harper and Row, 1990.
  • The Power of Myth
    The Power of Myth
    The companion book for the series, The Power of Myth, was released in 1988 at the same time the series aired on PBS...

    (with Bill Moyers
    Bill Moyers
    Bill Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965 to 1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers has had an extensive involvement with public...

     and Betty Sue Flowers
    Betty Sue Flowers
    Betty Sue Flowers is the former director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and an Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin....

    , ed.), 1988


DVD/Discography




External links