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the hero’s journey


What is it?

American mythological researcher Joseph Campbell wrote a famous book entitled The Hero with a Thousand Faces in which he identified common patterns running through hero myths and stories from around the world. Campbell outlines several basic stages that almost every hero-quest goes through (no matter the culture of origin) which he called “the monomyth.” George Lucas credits Campbell’s monomyth as the inspiration for his Star Wars films. 

  •   The Ordinary World – The hero exists in a world that is considered ordinary or uneventful by its inhabitants. The hero is often considered odd by those in the ordinary world and possesses some ability or characteristic that makes them feel out of place. 

  • The Call to Adventure – The hero is called away from the ordinary world— usually by discovery, event, or danger. They may be reluctant to leave the ordinary world but ultimately accept their destiny in the end.

    • Refusal of the Quest – During the Call to Adventure, the hero is given a quest which only they can complete. They are given the choice to accept or deny it but refusing the quest only brings trouble. 

  • Accepting the Call – Once the adventure is accepted, the hero advances into the next stage of their journey. 

  • Entering the Unknown – The hero enters an unknown world— sometimes filled with supernatural creatures, breathtaking sights, and the constant threat of death. Unlike the hero’s home, this outside world has its own rules and they learn quickly to respect these rules as they are tested again and again.

  • Supernatural Aid – A hero is almost always started on their journey by a character who has mastered the laws of the outside world and shares this wisdom— it is something the hero needs to succeed. 

  • Talisman – This special item will assist the hero on their quest.

  • Allies/Helpers - Every hero needs allies and helpers; without these the hero would fail. 

  • Tests and the Supreme Ordeal – A series of tests and obstacles will strengthen the hero and prepare them for the final showdown.

  • Reward and the Journey Home – A reward is given to the hero for passing the Supreme Ordeal and for their endurance and strength. After they obtain the reward, all that is left is for the hero to return home. 

  • Master of Two Worlds/Restoring the World – Success on the hero’s quest is life-changing. By achieving victory, they have changed their original world. The hero has also grown in spirit and strength.

Christopher’s Monomyth

  • The Ordinary World — Christopher navigates regular life with his “behavioral differences”

  • The Call to Adventure — Wellington is killed and Christopher wants to find out who is responsible

  • Refusal of the Quest — Ed forbids Christopher from looking for the killer and Christopher learns more about the Shears’

  • Accepting the Call — Christopher finds the letters and learns the truth from Ed

  • Entering the Unknown — Christopher leaves home to go to Judy’s

  • Supernatural Aid — Christopher thinks of Siobhan on his journey and her wisdom calms and guides him

  • Talisman — Toby, Math/Patterns and numbers 

  • Allies/Helpers — Siobhan, Judy, Ed (once an obstacle, becomes a helper) 

  • Tests — the journey to London, the Policemen, Roger’s violence 

  • Supreme Ordeal — A Levels Maths test

  • Reward — an A on his test/a new dog

  • The Journey Home — Christopher’s parents are now able to cooperate to provide for their son

  • Master of Two Worlds/Restoring the World — Christopher solved the mystery, got an A*, went to London and back, has plans to go to university, and is reunited with his parents