The word hero is typically tied to an image of a gladiator with a sword or a superhero in a cape; however, this image represents only the tip of the iceberg in reference to heroes. Heroes, while once thought only outwardly elitist or extraordinary, can be found in every walk of life; each person possesses the ability to be their own hero and experience the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell’s work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, does not refer to a hero with many looks or abilities, but rather the cornucopia of heroes found in every person deceased or alive. Campbell supports this in episode one of the series, The Power of Myth, when he enthusiastically tells interviewer Bill Moyers, “…follow your bliss, find where it is and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
In Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the point remains that the hero’s journey, despite variation, all follow a similar structure and format. It is not mandatory, according to Campbell, that each journey must include or harness the power of all elements of the hero’s journey as laid out in his book. Essentially, the variation in the elements of the hero’s journey is where we observe some of the variations within each myth. However, the similar and logical structure maintains throughout many works and mediums. For instance, in my favorite show The Vampire Diaries, season six follows the hero’s journey for my favorite character, Damon Salvatore when he opposes the leader of the malicious travelers. Damon must trigger a disturbance in the veil that separates the mortal living and supernatural dead worlds.
Furthermore, Campbell’s secondary key point is the hero’s journey is like rites of passage. Because the hero’s journey varies, this point is highly valid. The hero does not merely become a hero without a conquest or obstacles. Because of this, it makes sense that elements of the hero’s journey appear as rites of passage; rites of passages transfer us into unknown chapters in our lives and further our journey as human beings. In Amy Cuddy’s talk about body language, we recognize how rites of passage are pivotal in our life. Cuddy discusses how body language can alter our brains and how we see ourselves, much like the hero’s journey. Additionally, Cuddy also discusses how body language can affect how we react in situations like job interviews and other stressful life events. This furthers Campbell’s point of the hero’s journey being like rites of passage, as both play a profound effect on the journey and life.
Above all, Campbell’s culminating point is the hero’s journey is exceedingly more like a spiritual reality. This point is undoubtedly the most difficult to see, but additionally the most essential of all Campbell’s points. The hero’s journey comes full circle with a return to the native world; we witness this momentous return throughout history, and most prominently in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It similarly stands within our lives, that upon death, we either return to nothingness, ascend to heaven, or reincarnate depending on which beliefs you have about the world. Although throughout life this idea of a spiritual reality is seen more completely through the journey of the hero. Humans occupy their lives working towards something, whether it is our ultimate career or something else. Being innately harmonious with our journey, what we have already surpassed and how we respond to it makes it much easier to see the evident outcomes manifest as actual elements similar in nature to the hero’s journey.
Accordingly, Campbell’s points are wholesomely accurate. Myths, although viewed as fiction and purely historical, fulfil a unique role in how human beings live and function as living beings. Myths provide us compelling examples of heroism, conquest, and other worlds we likely would never experience; as humans we crave guidance and structure, and myths offer us an exponential forum of influential examples to follow and to which we can aspire. Campbell’s approach to myths is pivotal to the role they fulfil in the structure of humanity, and notwithstanding, humanity needs to look deeper into mythology to discover meaning for the life the mortal being lives.
Thus far, my personal journey consists of nothing but mildly touching upon the hero’s journey. Although I have embarked on my path into the hero’s journey by resuming my education. My call to action came from tutoring a friend in philosophy. I did not realize the journey I was on; God has revealed to me my genuine passion in life. I have stepped beyond the threshold and began exploring different majors and figuring out the proper way to follow my journey further. I have begun the road of trials in maintaining a high GPA. I have begun exploring the most exceptional universities that offer philosophy, psychology, sociology, theology, and some sort of mythology or folklore. My journey is currently in progress and until this point, I had no idea.
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