Dr. J. TaylorTHE HERO CYCLEMythology in Art and Literature
In his famous study of heroes, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell claims that most heroic adventures follow the formula of the rites of passage: separation–initiation–return. Campbell calls this the nuclear monomyth:
A 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 other humans.(Campbell 30)
Call to Adventure – Destiny summons the hero to leave society and enter a region of treasure and danger (dark forest, great trees, babbling spring)
Refusal of Call – Hero refuses call and brings disaster on himself and others.
Supernatural Aid – Motherly/fatherly guide protects hero with powers of a benign destiny.
Crossing the Threshold – First step beyond the familiar boundaries into dangerous unknown.
The Belly of the Whale – Transit into sphere of re-birth, symbolized by womb-like belly of the whale.
Road of Trials – Hero must survive succession of trials, aided sometimes by advice, amulets, and secret agents.
Meeting with the Goddess – Achieves mystical union or confrontation with Queen Goddess of the World, in her benign or horrible aspects.
Woman as Temptress – Hero must withstand temptations of destructive Mother-Bride.
Atonement with the Father – Hero abandons self and trusts that terrible Father is, in fact, benign and merciful.
Apotheosis – Hero becomes one with God or the universe.
The Ultimate Boon – Hero receives or captures key to happiness in social world.
Refusal of the Return – Hero refuses return and denies his knowledge to social world.
Magic Flight – Having won trophy, hero uses supernatural powers to achieve an otherwise dangerous return.
Rescue from Without – Return requires assistance from without.
Crossing of Return Threshold – Transit from divine back to human world.
Master of Two Worlds – Hero able to cross and re-cross world division
Source: Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Pr., 1968).