="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 512 512">

Chapter 2: Considering Structure

Hero’s Journey

Melissa Ford Lucken

The hero’s journey, also known as the monomyth, is a narrative pattern that appears in myths, legends, and stories across cultures and time periods. Developed by Joseph Campbell, the hero’s journey outlines the common stages and archetypal characters that a hero typically encounters on their transformative quest.

Here’s a detailed description of the hero’s journey:

The Ordinary World: The hero begins in their ordinary, everyday life. They may be unaware of the adventure that awaits them or feel a sense of dissatisfaction with their current situation.

Call to Adventure: The hero receives a call or invitation to embark on a journey or undertake a mission. This call may come in the form of a problem, a message, a mentor, or an external event. Initially, the hero may refuse the call due to fear, doubt, or a sense of obligation to their ordinary world.

Meeting the Mentor: The hero encounters a wise mentor figure who provides guidance, advice, or supernatural assistance. The mentor prepares the hero for the challenges ahead, imparts knowledge, and instills belief in their abilities.

Crossing the Threshold: The hero makes a conscious decision to leave their ordinary world and enter the unknown. They cross a literal or metaphorical threshold, leaving behind their familiar environment and venturing into a new and unfamiliar realm.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies: In this stage, the hero faces a series of tests, encounters allies and enemies, and learns the rules and dynamics of the new world. These challenges help the hero develop skills, gain knowledge, and acquire allies to aid them in their journey.

Approach to the Inmost Cave: The hero approaches a dangerous or pivotal location, often symbolizing a significant internal or external conflict. This may be a physical place or a psychological/emotional state that the hero must confront.

Ordeal: The hero faces their greatest challenge or ordeal, often representing a life-or-death situation. This is a critical turning point where the hero must confront their fears, make sacrifices, and undergo a transformation.

Reward: Having survived the ordeal, the hero receives a reward or gains newfound knowledge, power, or insight. This reward may be a physical object, an important piece of information, or a personal realization that brings them closer to achieving their goal.

The Road Back: The hero begins their journey back to the ordinary world, bringing with them the rewards and lessons learned. However, they may still face additional challenges and obstacles on their return.

Resurrection: In this stage, the hero faces a final, climactic challenge that tests their transformation and growth. They confront their ultimate enemy or the main source of conflict, and their success or failure here determines the outcome of their journey.

Return with the Elixir: Having overcome the final challenge, the hero returns to their ordinary world, bringing back the elixir—a physical or metaphorical boon that can bring positive change to their community or themselves. The hero’s return often brings resolution, restoration, and a sense of fulfillment.

Not all stories will include every stage of the hero’s journey, and the order of events may vary. The hero’s journey provides a framework that helps create a compelling narrative arc, showcasing the growth, transformation, and triumph of the hero as they undertake their mythic quest.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Hero's Journey by Melissa Ford Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book