Hero’s Journey

Ah, the hero’s journey. An epic story that is enjoyed by all. The hero’s journey dates back to the time of Odysseus, whose example is still used – unfortunately – in modern classrooms.

The hero’s journey comes in many different forms. It’s not just the story of a young, strapping man between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five who goes and beats up a lot of bad guys, rescues the damsel, and settles down to get married to said damsel. Heroes are more likable when they’re not perfect. It gives us a reason to care and a way to relate. It’s why I never liked Superman. Aside from a radioactive rock, there’s really nothing that can stop him. Everything about him is composed (except for his outfit). He even has that one perfect curl in the middle of his forehead. No, he’s not the kind of hero I like. Disney’s version of Hercules, now there’s a good example of a hero. He’s strong and virtually invincible, but we still love him because he’s just so darn cute and clumsy and awkward around women. (See the same thing happens to us in high school, but most of the guys who fit that category are also kinda stringy and ridden with acne)

So what exactly defines a hero’s journey? Well, there are a few things to look out for. A good hero’s journey will have a “crossing of the threshold” moment. It’s that point when your main character realizes he/she has already gone so far, and there’s no turning back. Thresholds are tricky because there can be more than one and they’re not always obvious. Some could say that Harry Potter’s threshold was in Hogwarts itself, or even when he passed through the literal threshold of platform 9 3/4. But I say it’s when he first received his Hogwarts letter from Hagrid. I mean, even if he’d never gone through with the Hogwarts thing, is there really any turning back from finding out you’re a wizard? Not really.

Moving on! The journey also comes with many obstacles, but a very important one is the self-explanatory “Belly of the Whale.” This phase of the journey sees the hero, well…trapped in some way (Like in the stomach of a whale). Usually it looks like curtains for the hero at this time, until something unexpected, possibly dashing and daring, and heroic happens to save him/her.

There are a lot more steps in the process, but I’m not naming them all. The point is that the end of the book should bring a catharsis like finishing a journey because…well…yeah, I’m not gonna explain it. You either get it or you don’t.

Next entry will be about Coming of Age.


Word of the day: Fetid (adj) – having an offensive odor; stinking


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