Applying the Ideas of Aristotle and Joseph Campbell

This week, we are working to lay more intellectual foundations for our studies by considering the classical theories of Aristotle (on the subject of tragedy) and the recent scholarship of Joseph Campbell (on the “monomyth” and the mythical hero).  And at last, we have gotten to our first mythical narratives of the class, myths of creation and flood/apocalypse stories from the ancient past, as depicted in various cultures.  Thus, to fully understand the theories in question and the first stories on the syllabus, I want see how you can tie them together in a very specific way.  You have two options for this exploration.  In the first case, you may apply certain ideas from Aristotle’s theories of tragedy to a specific myth (assigned for Wednesday) of your choosing.  I was primarily thinking that it would be interesting to see how the plot of your chosen tale fits certain “tragic” modes (such as leading toward a “catharsis”), or how the characters fit Aristotle’s ideals — especially of the “tragic hero.”  Alternately, you can work with and through key ideas from Campbell’s influential output.  If, for example, you would like to explore the notion of a “monomyth,” you might compare/contrast the similarities between several of the creation tales; on the other hand, it might be interesting to think about how a given story depicts the stages of the hero’s journey according to Campbell’s terms (i.e. separation, initiation, return).   It’s all about applied critical thinking here, and it will be intriguing to see what kinds of intellectual connections you can make and the interpretive suggestions you might draw out by utilizing the ideas of Aristotle or Campbell.

44 thoughts on “Applying the Ideas of Aristotle and Joseph Campbell

  1. Although it seems like a controversy, I am going to compare Aristotle’s ideas of tragedy to Oedipus Rex. One of the criteria to have a proper tragedy in Aristotle’s view is that the plots have to be long and serious. In Oedipus Rex, he has three plays dedicated to him and a lot of people die before it’s all over. Not only does a play have to be serious, but it has to be complex. Aristotle stated, “the plot may be either simple or complex, although complex is better”. This most nearly means that it makes a better tragedy if the plot is complex. For example, the whole playwright of Oedipus Rex was very complex and eventful. Oedipus stabbed his eyes out, his wife and mother hung herself, and many other things happened. Lastly, events and actions have to flow into each other to form a smooth transition as opposed to random (compared to an episode). Although in Oedipus Rex there were many “random” events, they smoothly flowed into each other.

  2. I am going to discuss the stages of a hero’s journey through Campbell’s stages of separation, initiation, and return. As any story begins we first meet our hero who receives the attention of the entire audience. As our story advices something tragic happens to the hero that sets him out on a quest. At this time our hero now reaches the separation stage where it just our hero, all by himself, out against the world. Our hero is by himself struggling with his quest to bring justice back into his life.
    In a brief matter of time our hero is now upon the stage of initiation. The initiation stage describes a time where our beloved hero must go through some form of a difficult ordeal to complete his quest. In most cases it is battling a monster or rescuing the damsel in distress. After our hero beats this initiation their quest is now complete and they can return home. With their return home our hero is accepted beck into society and is honored for his effort on his quest. These are the three stages that Campbell talks abut which every hero must go through.

  3. After today’s class it became clear to me that Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth has probably surrounded me my whole life, it just took me until now to realize it. Separation, initiation, and return. The monomyth covers/directly relates to a broad spectrum of stories, yet it is such a simple theory. There are the obvious tales that we grew up with, such as Superman, Thor, Batman, Captain America, etc. It is easy to associate these characters with Campbell’s theory because their names alone go hand in hand with the term “hero.” There are other examples, however, that are a tad more subtle when trying to make connections between the monomyth and a given story. Whether it is a book, a television series, or a movie, today’s media has produced hundreds of titles that follow the monomyth to the T. Take the Disney Pixar film “Finding Nemo” for example. The character of the story does not necessarily have to be a “hero,” he/she simply must be likable and relatable to the audience. Perfect example being that when we hear the term “hero,” we don’t usually associate it with a cartoon fish. But nevertheless, the main character is indeed a fish who has set off on a mission to find his lost son. He faces several challenges along the way that not necessarily change him as a character, but better the qualities he already contained in the beginning of the story. These challenges were, much like Aristotle discussed in his “Theory of Tragedy in the Poetics,” brought about accidentally by the character himself, causing his own collapse. In the end he finds his son and returns home, completing the final step to the monomyth. It seems silly to relate this extraordinary theory to a children’s book, however I hope that you can see how easily monomyth can be applied in today’s society.

    • I as well connected the monomyth to super heroes. I like to compare the definition of a monomyth to Mr. Incredible in the Pixar film “The Incredibles.” Mr. Incredible goes through the sequence separation, initiation, return. Mr. Incredible travels away, after supers had been banned, to restart work as a hero. He needs to protect his family, destroy a robot, and take down Syndrome all while trying to stay hidden. In the end, he saves the entire city and supers are then welcomed back with open arms. He also possesses many qualities identified by Aristotle as a tragic hero in that Mr. Incredible was the cause of his own downfall and he is relatable to the audience. We as viewers feel bad for Mr. Incredible because he has to hide his true self from everyone. Once we realize one example, as Sarah said, other examples of monomyths can be recognized easily.

  4. So I’m going to apply Luke Skywalker’s journey to that of a hero’s according to Campbell. Campbell believes that every hero’s tail has a clear beginning, middle,and end. He states that those three parts can be describes through out every tail in three stages; separation: when the character leaves their comfortable lives to depart on a journey, initiation: the hero’s struggle to complete what he set out to do, and return: the hero’s brave return home. This can be easily applied to Luke’s story. The starting point of Luke’s journey is when his aunt and uncle are killed by the Emperor and he departs to Eisley with Ben, R2-D2, and C3PO to get a ship to rescue Leia (separation). At Mos Eisley they recruit Han Solo and Chewbacca and they are off to the next stage of their journey. Luke’s transformation to hero status (initiation) happens over several events; the attack on the first Death Star, his training with Yoda, and his rescue of Han. Then we enter the third and final stage (return) Luke, however, does not return to Tatooine to be praised as a hero but returns to a calmer life after the Emperor has been killed and he reconciles with his father. As we can see Star Wars, like most stories, follows Campbell’s three stages of a hero’s journey.

    • I agree with what Brenna has to say about the Hero’s Journey. In my creative writing class last year we used a hero’s journey format. Although I’m not sure if it was based off of Campbell’s it followed the same stages. The main character had to go through something to realize that they have this superhuman ability or that they are going to be on this adventure. Then it went on to highlight the other stages that showed how difficult the hero’s journey really was with what was laid out before him. When we started discussing the hero’s journey I was excited since I had prior knowledge of it and I can strongly agree that Star Wars is a perfect example of that.

  5. I would like to like to discuss how Campbell spoke on the similarities of the creation myths how they are all very closely follow the same patterns. Like when you take a look at Christ and Buddha how they follow the going away into the forest and being tempted by an evil entity in Christ’s case the devil. As well as Luke Skywalker had to go into the forest and train with Yoda and go through trials and then returned as a Jedi to pick his disciples or in his case his crew/friends. So when you look at these myths they all use the same formula starting with the separation where the hero has to leave his people for whatever reason that myth describes.Then they have the initiation in which this is the hero’s adventure or trials they must complete to become the savior, Jedi or achieve enlightenment whatever the case may be. Lastly the hero must return to his people to pick his disciples or covey their knowledge to their people, or in a physical hero he wins the war or becomes the king.

  6. For this topic I am going to discuss a fairly recent hero. As a child of disney enthusiasts it has come to my attention that the heroes all seem to actually go through the same type of situation as described by Campbell. The disney movie Brave stars the princess Merida who also plays the role of the hero. She separated from her kingdom and her parents to go on and be herself in a way. Of course, as the cliche goes she ran into trouble while doing it.
    Merida has a problem with her life being run for her just like most people. In order to stop herself from being married off she discovers a potion shop thus turning her mother into a bear. The initiation part comes in when she discovers that her mother could remain a bear forever. She realizes that a reversal must be made all while reaching an epiphany that changing your fate is not always the perfect route. The return almost ends in disaster where the kingdom wants to kill the bear that is her mother. As she returns and everything goes back to normal, everyone has a new understanding of what life is like and happily ever after ensues. Merida goes through the three steps in order to save her mother and herself.

  7. I found a relation between Joseph Campbell and the creation myth, Egypt: Ex Nihilo Beginning. It holds the cosmogonic cycle; creation of the world. In this myth the God thinks he has it all, he comes into power of all things possible. His achievements give him pleasure but it is not yet fulfilling, which can be seen as a journey of self discovery all on its own. Although in this myth the god or hero after his many trails toward fulfillment he ends up alone, he is in a deficit land with only me, myself and I, he feels separated. This God then returned to the Primeval Waters in which he began. He thought with much concentration, which I consider to be his journey; he took a journey inside himself; inside his creativity. His creativity that appeared like a revelation in which he realized his calling, then began to initiate a great creation. He created a man and women and they too began in the Primeval Waters in which this God started. His return to the place in which he started is where he created his masterpiece that he could not be more proud of.

  8. (Class #2)
    I will be talking about Separation, Initiation and Return in the movie Tangled, which is based of the fairy tale Rapunzel.
    Rapunzel is drawn to the lanterns that are flown every year on her birthday. She does not know why they are there. They only come up in the sky on her birthday. Rapunzel confronts her mother and hopes that she will finally get to go see the lanterns this year. Her mother gets mad and tells her that she can not leave the tower for her safety. This was because she had long magic hair that glowed and healed people when she sang. SEPARATION: Rapunzel meets Flynn Rider. He agrees to take her out of the tower to see the lanterns in return for the satchel that she took from him when she knocked him out. INITIATION: Rapunzel is new to the world since she has never left her tower before. The main trial she had to face was the placement of trust. Should she trust that her mother always knows what is best, or should she trust this stranger who has become her friend/love throughout her journey? RETURN: In the end, she realizes that she has to make her own decisions and trust in her own instincts. Rapunzel learns to stand up for herself. She finds out that she is the “lost princess” to the kingdom. Her “mother” was just using her all those years to keep herself young. When Rider was injured, Rapunzel realized that she didn’t need her magic hair to cure him. She returned to her real family in the end.

  9. Joseph Campbell’s ideas about the common monomyth contains revelations of fate, but then the reversal of that fate and a complete learning experience from the situation. If you think about any superhero tale that was produced as a comic book, or even a film, we see all of the elements of the monomyth come together. My personal favorite is Thor, and he is a good example of how monomyth is explained in modern day tales of a hero. Thor starts out as the prince of his home planet, Asgard. He is respected as prince, but is also portrayed as very rowdy and childish at times. Thor proceeds to battle with the Frost Planet against his fathers wishes, and Thor unfortunately creates a war between Asgard and the Frost Giants. Out of rage, Odin (Thor’s father and the King of Asgard) banishes Thor to Earth without any of his powers and without his mighty hammer. We see how vulnerable Thor becomes without all of his power, and so we sympathize with him. We see him struggling to adapt to Earth life, because his culture was so different on Asgard. Thor must get his powers back by learning self- control, and then he will be able to wield his hammer again, just in time to save his home planet, AND Earth from the Frost Giants. In the end, we see Thor change completely. He turned himself around, and became fit to be accepted back to Asgard. Seeing this change in Thor, he becomes even more of a hero in the end of the film. Joseph Campbell’s monomyth ties in well with almost every superhero story, but especially Thor’s, because of the struggles he deals with in order to maintain his power.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I think Thor is a very good example of the separation-initiation-return theory. Like you said, in the beginning, he has that “je ne sais pas”, that potential to be the hero that he eventually becomes, but he is reluctant to do things the right way, and instead causes a situation that makes him become separated from the place he calls home in order to find himself. And in this happening, he begins the journey of coming to terms with who he is and what he could be. In the end he returns, like the hero theory always seems to foretell, and he assumes his rightful place.

  10. In many hero movies you can always find Joseph Campbell’s you can always find monomyths or something that is very similar. Some movies such as Braveheart have perfect examples of what Joseph Campbell was speaking of. In Braveheart the main character(Hero) is William Wallace and the story takes place in Scotland. The separation of the story/movie occurs when Williams wife is murdered for protecting herself from a soldier who tried to rape her. The initiation occurs when William wants to free his people from being oppressed by Edward Longshanks. He then leads his rebels in battles to solidify their wish to be free and avenge those they had lost. The initiation itself was him inciting the rebellion. The only problem with this story following Campbell’s monomyth storyline is that the return phase then morphed into a “tragic hero”. In the return part of the movie William Wallace does not return home to a Hero’s welcome or even grow old. He is promptly executed for being a traitor by being drawn and quartered. His mission was then completed not by him but his rebel friends. This story may not follow the monomyth line perfectly but it works well enough.

  11. In this post I will be relating Campbell’s terms of separation, initiation, and return to the popular books and movies of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. The character I would like to look at is Aragon son of Arathorn. Aragon’s journey first started at the age of two when his father was killed by orcs. Fearing for Aragon, the elves of Rivendell took him in to protect him. This is the first step of his story the separation from his homeland and throne in Gondor. When he became of age he was told of whom he really was and shortly after joined the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North. He soon became their chieftain proving him to be a great warrior. This was his initiation into the world because one day he was destined to fight for his homeland. During the events of The Lord of The Rings trilogy he fought in many battles that decided not only his fate but the fate of the world. In the final battle he returns to Gondor with an army to liberate the capitol city. It was then that the city had learned of the return of their king. He then led one more battle that would end the war and destroy the one evil in the world. This is Aragon’s triumphant return where he is able to retake the throne of Gondor and lead the world into an era of peace and prosperity.

  12. In almost every modern hero tale today, it is almost standard for the author to follow Campbell’s depiction of a hero nicknamed the Hero’s Journey. Campbell’s hero’s journey follows three major steps: separation, initiation, and return in this order. Separation occurs when something happens to the hero that takes him away from his family & friends, usually getting lost or kidnapped. After the first stage of separation the initiation stage occurs. This is when the hero goes through trials and overcomes obstacles that definitely make and prove him a hero. The final phase of the hero’s journey is the return. The return allows the hero to go back to his original setting and give them the freedom to live. By now the hero is the protector of the people and the master of his world and maybe another.
    Today the hero’s journey can be found not just in books but also on television. Take the hit movie Lion King for example, it follows Campbell’s definition of a hero step-by-step. A young lion named Simba gets separated from the valley by a stampede of animals, then his father (Mufasa) is killed by his own brother (Scar). This is the end of the separation stage. In the initiation stage Simba is out on his own and has to deal with his enemies and even meets his friends/allies. He then conquers all his enemies and has a talk with his dead father. This would lead us into the last step which is the return, where he then returns to the valley and is master of the valley and the rest of the lands.

  13. After our last class, I realized how the works of Joseph Campbell relate to present and past hero myths. The main, relatable work, specifically, is his idea of monomyth. To readdress what monomyth is, it is simply a hero’s journey. This journey includes three main focuses; separation, initiation, and return. Separation involves the hero leaving his family or people to help with an outside problem. This hero may be called upon or simply goes on his own free will. Initiation happens when the hero makes contact with the problem he has set off to find. This problem may be a villain, monster, or some sort of “block in the road.” After the hero takes care of the problem, he sets off for his journey back home where, on arrival, is greeted and praised as a savior.
    Take, for example, the Anglo-Saxon (epic) hero, Beowulf. This is just one example of a past use of monomyth while there are countless others, both past and present. Beowulf is known as the strongest and bravest in all of the lands and his strength is tested when King Hrothgar informs Beowulf of a monster terrorizing his land. This monster is known as Grendel and is Beowulf’s toughest battle. Beowulf sets off on this long journey, or the separation part in the case of a monomyth, to answer the call of King Hrothgar and kill the monster Grendel. Beowulf makes first contact with Grendel, or initiation, in the halls of Heorot where he eventually rips off his arm which leads to his death. However, this causes Grendel’s mother to also fight Beowulf and after that, a dragon, both falling to the almighty Beowulf. Once Beowulf is done all of his deeds, he sets off to his home of the Danes, the return in a monomyth, where he is greeted as the savior of the land, confirming that the Epic is, indeed, a monomyth.

  14. For this topic I would like to discuss Campbell. Campbell’s theories are ones which we have grown up with ever since we were little. If you were little and watched shows such as Scooby Doo, to Superman, and basically anything in between then you are familiar with Campbell and his style. Each and every book which contains traces of a hero, follow Campbell’s theories which are separation, initiation, and return. We must also take into consideration that we must like the hero in the story to engage our interest. Can you name a story with a hero in it which doesn’t follow those three qualities? If you read any tales about King Arthur, you know Campbell fairly well. A breakdown of a tragic hero tale would be Romeo and Juliet. You see separation when Romeo and Juliet can’t see each other due to a family feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Next you see initiation when Romeo and Juliet go against their parents, and see each other anyway. Lastly you see return when Romeo comes up with a plan to be with Juliet, however she is already dead. This is a tragic form of a hero. But you have to remember not all endings have to be happy. However the three elements separation, initiation, and return do apply to this story as well as many others. So the next time I read a hero’s tale, I will be sure to keep Campbell in mind and point out his three main concepts.

  15. (class two)
    I am going to discuss The trilogy of The lord of The Rings and how it fits into Joseph Campbell’s theory of a hero’s journey through Separation, Initiation, and return. In the Lord of the Rings Frodo Baggins inherits the one ring from his cousin and guardian Bilbo Baggins. He is then told of its dark power by the wizard Gandalf the Grey who sends Frodo on a quest to destroy the ring. Frodo then leaves the Shire with those who will help him on quest.(separation) eventually Frodo is cut off from his friends who are helping him on his quest and decides to continue the journey alone. He is then only joined only by his friend Sam who against all wishes joins him on his venture alone.(initiation) After being convinced by their guide Sméagol that Sam has been eating all their rationed food Frodo forces Sam to head back home and leave. After doing so he finds out that this is a lie created by Sméagol in an attempt to reclaim the ring from Frodo. Frodo is then rescued by Sam who realized Sméagol’s plot and came back to save Frodo.(return) at the end of their long and dangerous journey Sam and Frodo reach Mt. Doom in their quest to destroy the ring. However Frodo is possessed by the ring not to destroy it, not until Sméagol reclaims the ring by biting off Frodo’s finger does Frodo come back to his senses to destroy the ring. He then destroys the ring by throwing Sméagol and the ring into the volcano of Mt Doom.(Return) after the ring is destroyed Mt Doom begins to collapse and Sam and Frodo are convinced that there is no escape. They are then rescued by Gandalf on the back of a mighty eagle who saves them. As they return back to shire and middle earth they greeted and hailed as heroes. Many of todays popular works can be connected to Joseph Campbell’s 3 parts of a heroes journey.

  16. Tragedy is the imitation of an action. In the Native North American tale of the Onondagan tribe’s creation, Star Woman and Earth Divers, we can see many key elements of Tragedy that Aristotle left us with. Aristotle states that each Tragedy must have a plot which includes a beginning, middle, and an end. In the tale Star Woman and Earth Divers the story starts off with Star Woman falling from the sky and landing in a strange land in which she becomes the “creative force”. She then befriends the man-being and they soon have a child, and from this birth came the death of the child’s father. This child goes onto have a child as well and the cycle began to continue. But before the father could die he cast his wife, Star Woman’s child, and his child from his world to the world below. The world they were cast into is our world, Star Woman and her child taught the people of our world how to survive. Here they learned of good and evil.
    Aristotle said that a tragedy would not only invoke feelings of pity, but it would also invoke feelings of fear and this is what the Onondagan tribe’s tale does. We pity the woman and her child but also fear them because they are the ones that caused death to occur.

  17. Campbell was brilliant to uncover that the majority of stories follow a similar pattern and it is undoubtedly true. Most creation myths consist of three basic stages: separation, initiation, and return. Those three components really do makeup stories and myths but there are more similarities than just the bare essentials. The monomyth can also be referred to as the hero’s journey and it is unbelievable to think that creation myths and even modern pieces of work follow this structure. An example of this is the Disney movie Mulan. Mulan is called to adventure when her father receives a notice to return to the military to protect China from the Huns. This would be the separation, as Mulan leaves to serve in his place. The initiation is when Mulan defeats the head Hun and the return is when she is finally able to go home after saving all of China. This modern tale most definitely follows the monomyth cycle. Campbell was able to simplify the structure of myths and apply it to all stories and although it may be controversial, it proves to be true for just about every story or myth created.

  18. Joseph Campbell was on to something when he talked about, “mono-myths.” As a catholic and believer in my religion, it’s almost disheartening to hear someone say that the beginnings of your religion are just like another one. But when you look into it, it is very interesting to see just how similar two creation tales can be. Joseph basically stated that all of the myths contain certain core themes and patterns, a mono-myth if you will. He stated that every, “Prophet,” or originating figure of a certain religion went through three steps bringing out the origin. The first was separation, separation from his/her culture, family, or self. Usually the person would go out searching for something or be called forth by an cosmic figure. Next, the individual would gain some knowledge that would help or save his or her people /restore life. He would then take this knowledge back to the people in the last step, the return. In class we watched as Campbell pointed out all the similarities that main prophets like Jesus Christ, mohammed, and buddah had, and the fact that they all underwent these three steps with some differences. Analyzing these three individuals got me thinking about another, “Creator.” The Mormon religion, although not exactly a creation myth, have a figurehead that also underwent these steps. The Mormon founder, a man named, “Joseph Smith,” was living in upstate New York in the 1800’s. He underwent the first step in 1823 when he said that an angel directed him to a golden plate with ancient inscriptions on them. The second step was when he supposedly copied these inscriptions over to a book. When he returned, he published this book as the, “Book of Mormon,” and his followers began to spread the word. Although not a classic creation tale, you can see that the Mormon faith shares some of the mono-myth characteristics. Very interesting considering the fact that this was not very long ago when compared to some of the myths occurring B.C.

  19. When looking at the myths in the reading it is apparent that there is a clear motif when it comes to the destruction of man and this motif is the flood. Whether it be Deucalion, Noah, or Yima the human race is destroyed save one virtuous man and his family. The monomyth Campbell speaks about is obviously present in the fact that the heroes leave civilization behind, are chosen as the only good humans left on the planet and then return to start civilization anew. While the process itself is important to the monomyth, I am far more interested in the fact that a flood is such a common idea between the monotheistic Zoroastrians and Jews as well as the polytheistic Romans. I think the reason the flood is so common is because people, as far back as civilization goes, have had to rely on the rivers and rain for water. With a common reliance on something comes a common fear, which is when that source of life becomes dangerous. It is this common fear that shapes this flood paradigm as it goes back to the cradles of civilization, which is as close to Campbell’s supposed human origin as one can get. So,even as civilizations grew and splintered, this basic fear still remained as a sort of proof that they all had the same starting point. In short, the flood stories are as effective proof, as any I can imagine, of Campbell’s monomyth idea since their subject matter is universal.

  20. Hercules is a great example of separation, initiation, and return. he was sent on an adventure called The Twelve Labours. First his adventure took him to slay the Nemean Lion. Then on to the fierce-some Hydra. Next he captured the Golden Hind of Artemis. Next Hercules had too capture the Erymanthian Boar. Then he had too clean the Augean stables in a single day. Then slay the Stymphalian Birds. Then off too capture the Cretan Bull. Then off to steal the Mares of Diomedes.
    Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Next he had too obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon. Then he had to steal the apples of the Hesperides. Finally Hercules had to capture and bring back Cerberus. Now i know that sounds like a lot but he was a very busy and important being. He protected his people and his cause. This is a great example of separation, initiation and return.

  21. A hero’s journey according to the ideas of initiation, separation, and return, is very key to telling the hero’s story. First initiation is when the hero is tested to see whether or not they truly can handle the problem at hand. Usually involves the gaining of knowledge or power to handle the situation. Also can involve a mentor in the aspect of the hero learning his strengths and weaknesses. Separation is usually the departure from the homeland/town in order to complete their goal. Usually leaving after training is done. This is when the hero officially starts their journey away from home. The return phase is usually the ending of the life, or the return home from their accomplishment. This part of the journey is usually the ending, and can lead to multiple questions. The return does not always end happily. Sometimes it is a tragic event which led to the demise of both the protagonist and antagonist.

  22. I would like to compare Aristotle’s theories about poetic tragedies to the reknown work of Hamlet. When I think of a tragic hero, or a tragedy in general, my mind automatically thinks of the play Hamlet. Aristotle constantly repeats that plot is the key element when it comes to a tragedy, and that a tradgedy is the “imitation of an action”. The main action in Hamlet is Hamlet’s desire to avenge his father’s death by ultimately killing his uncle. Aristotle also elaborates that the rest of a tragedy’s elements, such as diction, characters, and thought stem must deroot from the plot. Aristotle states that in order for a tragedy to have an effect, it must invoke pity and fear. Audiences pity Hamlet for his poor state of mind, his misfortunes, and the fact that he is a victim of terrible circumstances. There is also fear imbedded in the plot as well when it comes to the uncertainty of the new King’s future actions. Aristotle would consider Hamlet’s plot to be “complex” because of the several ongoing events within the plot. Not only does Hamlet fit most of the criteria of Aristotle’s perfect tragedy, Hamlet himself fits the label of a tragic hero. Hamlet’s flaw, being that he becomes obsessed with revenge, is a flaw that causes him to be labeled as that. I chose to use Hamlet as my “myth” example because the circumstances that are present in this play really give light to what a tragedy is truly about, especially when it comes to Aristotle and his ideas.

  23. Joseph Campbell’s idea of the monomyth can be proven true in the many plots of children’s’ movies that exist today. For example, Disney’s twist on the classic tale of Hercules follows Campbell’s sequence of separation, initiation, and return. In the movie Hercules sets out to find a way to belong. On this journey he finds the mythological being that trains him to become the hero he was destined to be. This initiation process begins with him going through different trials with havoc reeking villains. Hercules continues to build his strength and credibility as he defeats each one of these monsters. Then once Hercules has proven his self as a true hero at Mt. Olympus he returns back to Greece and resumes his role as lead defender in Thieves. Many ancient and present tales are centered on this idea of separation, initiation, and return. Without Campbell’s’ finding of this sequence the historical pattern that the monomyth has come to be would be still remain a mystery.

  24. When looking at the cycle of a hero, separation, initiation, and return, it can also be applied to the gods of different cultures. The Greek, Norse, and Egyptians all have a ruling god, but these gods had to go through trials to get to where they were. Zeus was raised on a secluded island so his father Cronus would not eat him and he separated himself from that island to defeat his father and save his siblings. He then tricked his father into throwing up Zeus’ siblings, together they defeated the titans and Zeus became the king of all gods. Horus of Egypt was hidden by his mother Isis to avoid Set, the god who had killed Horus’ father Osiris. Horus left his mother to get revenge for his father and after a long conflict he triumphed over Set. By doing this Horus returned as the god-king of all of Egypt. Finally Odin left with his two brothers left to face Ymir, who was a giant who had become evil. After defeating him Odin and his brothers used Ymir to create the world where he returned as the All-Father. Not just heroes display separation, initiation, and return, some gods display it as well.

  25. Separation. Initiation. Return. Joseph Campbell’s monomyth theory is around us all more than we care to realize. There are the obvious examples (AKA almost every comic super hero EVER). But there are also the hidden examples in places you’d never think to look. For example, the movie Treasure Planet. Jim Hawkins, a troublesome teen, is anything but extraordinary. He actually gets into more trouble then he should. He is anything but a hero. But he is likable. Take The Rise of The Guardians as another example. Jack Frost (in the beginning) is no where near being a hero. He just likes to have fun. That’s it. Or even Lightning McQueen, from the movie Cars. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term ‘hero’ I tend to think of super powers, or caps, or rich men who like to play with and create really high tech things (Iron Man cough cough). The first thing i think of is certainly NOT a red animated car. But Lighting, Jim, and Jack all go through the same steps that Joseph Campbell describes in his theory. Separation. Initiation. Return.

  26. Although I was never aware of it before this class, Joseph’s Campbell’s theory of monomyth and the idea that heroes go through 3 stages, separation, initiation, and return, are applied ubiquitously throughout heroic movies we all know today. I would like to use Pirates of the Caribbean as an example because that is one of my favorite movies of all time. Captain Jack Sparrow, the main character, is well liked throughout the movie for his witty and humorous personality. In the beginning of the movie, he goes on to explore the seas, and have his own adventure in the outside world. He is tested by several enemies that he has made along his journey, including Captain Barbosa and Davy Jones, and he always seems to make his way out of the sticky situations he involves himself with. As he gets stronger and more powerful, even though he has selfish intentions to go on and make more money and drink more rum on his own ship, he decides to go back and help William Turner, an enemy initially who turned out to be a friend. He helps William seek his vengeance for his father, and along the way helps his people defeat Davy Jones and his crew. Captain Jack separated from the main setting, he fought threw battles and grew stronger, and then in the end returned to help the people he had left in the first place. This is just one of the many heroes that can be compared with Joseph Campbell’s theory.

  27. I find fascination in Cambell’s progress of a hero. The guideline of separation, initiation and return, the idea of a monomyth, is a succinct basis of countless hero based stories and myths that span a timeline of thousands of years. Still to this day is the model being used. A cookie-cutter, modern day example of this is Pixar’s Finding Nemo. I picked this because, upon reading about Cambell’s ideas, I realized that the story’s plot literally revolves around the aforementioned cycle of the hero. The beginning starts with a physical separation, where Nemo is taken from his father by fishermen. The initiation comes from Nemo learning to defend himself and work with the help of other fish to get back to the ocean, and, finally, his father (the return). I find this both interesting and comical because, what Cambell applies to such intricate stories of creation and the universe also applies to this Pixar animated film about a fish finding his way home. To think that the backbone of the stories of Christ and of Buddha is the same backbone of simple stories used in children’s movies is absolutely fascinating to me.

  28. Not necessarily seen as a hero; Walter Mitty really portrays the hero’s journey. The film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty includes all of the credential of a hero’s journey. Walter is a negative assets manager at Life magazine. He works closely with Sean O’Connell, and when Walter’s boss sees one of O’Connell’s negative he asks that it be the cover of the magazine. After realizing the negative is missing, we see the Separation of the journey. Walter sets out on a journey across the world to try and find O’Connell. The initiation is should Walter break out of his shell and become the hero. He makes the decision to take non new challenges that he never thought he’d do before. The return is when Walter realizes that even if he doesn’t return with the negative he doesn’t care. He still took on new challenges.

  29. I’m going to talk about Campbell’s stages of a heroes journey. His theory consists of a heroes separation, initiation, return. The example I am going to use is relatively “newer” hero. Since I happen to be a fan of Marvel comics and their characters, I’m going to use one of their prime examples of a hero that goes through the three stages. The origin story of Ironman a.k.a. Tony Stark is a great example of a hero that goes through separation, initiation, and return. He was a billionaire weapons manufacturer before the separation took place. Now there are several different story arcs to how the separation took place, however I will be referencing that of the first Ironman film that came out in 2008. Tony Stark was doing a weapons demonstration when suddenly ambushed and kidnapped by terrorist, who, happen to be working for his partner Obidiah Stane. Stark received a fatal wound and would have to invent a electro magnet to prevent shrapnel from entering his heart. This is the separation. He is separated from his former lifestyle and from everyone he knew. He then came to the realization that the terrorist were using his very own weapons, thus initiating the drive to eradicate the problem. He does so buy building his first Ironman suit dubbed the MK1. He uses his suit to destroy all the terrorist camp and all the weapons. He is then later rescued by his best friend James Rhodes. Upon his return he realizes that instead of making weapons to protect the people, he would become the weapon instead. He sets of building new suits and finishing off any trace of terrorist using his weapons for mass destruction.
    Ironman is just one of many heroes that go through the separation, initiation, and return cycle. We see a man taken away forcefully away from everything he knew and forced to build weapons of mass destruction against his will. He realizes that his weapons that were meant to protect have brought more devastation. Then he sets off to right the wrong by building the ultimate weapon that only he can wield and destroying what he had previously created.

  30. I will be relating a tale to the ideas of Joseph Campbell. One of my favorite movies is Shrek, and it very much relates to Joseph Campbell’s philosophies and ideas. Shrek is a big, green ogre who lives in a swamp in the woods along with many other fairytale creatures. Shrek is the hero and he does go on the path of mythological adventure which is, according to Campbell, separation, initiation, and return. The first stage is separation, being that he goes away from his home/surroundings and goes on a journey. Shrek does leave his swamp to go find and rescue the princess that is locked away in a tower. The second stage is initiation, being that this main character actually becomes the hero. This is very true in the movie Shrek. He does make it to the treacherous castle, he does save the magnificent princess Fiona, and he does end up in mutual love with her. The third stage is return, being that the hero comes back home and returns triumphantly. At the end of Shrek, Shrek does return to his swamp with Fiona, who is now is wife. The many other fairytale creatures are there to celebrate with him and be joyous.

  31. The plot to almost every story that we know and love follows Campbell’s outline of the hero’s journey. Whether it be in a movie, a TV show, a book, a play, or a video game, the main character will go through those same general events of separation, initiation, and return. Although, not all separations, initiations, and returns fit into the same mold. If they were all the same, we would get bored of it. Some separations occur with the hero willingly and joyously embarking on a daring quest; while other separations are the result of some terrible event that motivates our hero with thoughts of regret, revenge, or redemption.
    After the separation, the main character is formally initiated as a hero. This can happen in many different ways. As said in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Some heroes are just heroic by nature. Others have to work hard to even have the chance of becoming a hero. And some don’t want to be a hero at all, but are forced into the role by circumstance or fate.
    Just as no separation or initiation is the same for any two heroes, no return is quiet the same either. Some heroes are lucky and get a victorious, triumphant return home and live happily ever after. But as we discussed in class, other heroes have a tragic and unforgiving finish, sometimes ending in death, loss, or severe and irreparable injury.

  32. Joseph Campbell is one of the greatest mythology writers of the modern era. One of his greatest works, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ has great modern and historical ties. His idea of the monomyh is spot on. The idea that the hero goes through a separation, initiation, and return is relevant in many, if not all hero stories. The idea that the chosen one leaves his home, earns his victory on his quest, and then returns a hero. The story of Prometheus stealing the fire from the gods is a prime example. He separates himself from everyone in order to go on his quest. The initiation is him completing his conquest and getting the fire, and then returning to earth with the fire. Another prime example is Jason going on an adventure to find the golden fleece that has the ability to heal anyone or anything from any affliction it might have. This also relates to The Lord of the Ring, in a sense that Frodo leaves The Shire to go on a quest to destroy The Ring of Power and returns back to The Shire a hero.

  33. I believe that Aristotle’s theories of poetic tragedies can be seen throughout most- if not all- myths and tragic stories. Aristotle believes that there are six parts of a tragedy: plot, thought, diction, spectacular, character and song. All of the well-known and studied tragedies I read throughout high school very closely followed these six characteristics of tragedies put forth by Aristotle.

    I’d like to compare Aristotle’s theories of poetic tragedies to the play Romeo and Juliet written by Shakespeare. Aristotle said that a tragedy is an “imitation of an action”. Throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet fall in love and want to be together but have to struggle with differences between their families. This constant struggle to be together is the main plot of the play. Aristotle’s theories on character, diction, and spectacle also play a large role in the determination of whether or not Romeo and Juliet is really a tragedy. The way the characters develop allow for the reader/watcher to pity the young couple and this alone develops an attachment that at the end of the play could bring the entire audience to tears. There are fights and love scenes and these- all a part of the plot- provide a spectacle that doesn’t end until the very last lines of the play.

    Romeo and Juliet would also be seen as complex in the eyes of Aristotle. Aristotle believed that all tragedies had to be complex…but not too complex. Romeo and Juliet is a story that is very easy to follow but also requires a lot of thought. Although Romeo and Juliet doesn’t necessarily have a song, it does usually have a break where there is a bit of comedy for the crowd to lighten the mood. I think this, even though it’s not a song, would be seen by Aristotle as a nice touch to a tragic story.

    Aristotle’s ideas on tragic heroes also pertains to Romeo and Juliet. Both of the main characters can be seen as tragic heroes because they share the flaws of naivety and impulsiveness. These traits allow for the plot to lead the characters through an ongoing suffering and ultimately their falls. I chose Romeo and Juliet as the story that I tied to Aristotle’s theories because I believe it truly is a tragic story and does fit the criteria put forth by Aristotle.

  34. If you look deep enough into almost any story, you can find Campbell’s idea of the typical heroes journey. To me, the story that stuck out to me when I think of separation, initiation, and return, was Rain Man. The separation occurs when Charlie Babbitt (the main character), is separated from his older brother. The one thing that makes this separation unique, though, is that Charlie didn’t know the separation ever took place, until he met his brother, Raymond, much later in life. When Charlie first came in contact with his long lost brother (who was autistic), he had no intentions on developing any sort of true relationship. All Charlie cared about was the money that their father had left for Raymond. Charlie didn’t think it was fair that Raymond received all the money, because Raymond doesn’t even understand the concept of money. So, Charlie basically kidnaps Raymond hoping that it will lead to Charlie receiving the money that he feels rightfully deserves to him. Through this journey, though, Charlie begins to develop a relationship with Raymond, and by the end of the story, Charlie ends up wanting not the money that Raymond possessed, but the brother that Raymond was. This story follows the ideas of separation, initiation, and return almost perfectly. Charlie and Raymond are separated when Charlie is a child (separation), then Charlie takes Raymond on a journey in order to receive the money that we wants (initiation), and as the story finishes, Charlie finally comes full circle and realizes that he actually loves his brother and wants to spend more time with him (return).

  35. The world of literature is full of tragic heroes. As some of my peers have recounted above, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and expanded universe including especially The Hobbit) is a fantastic example of Campbell’s theories on “mono-myths” and the typical “Hero’s Quest”, and it is also a great literary example of tragedy. It is my belief that Bilbo Baggins is a quintessential tragic hero. He is no ruler or lord, but he considers his domicile and his home to be all the wealth he needs. Bilbo only agrees to go on the journey because he realizes the worthy cause of the Dwarves-reclaiming their homeland and slaying the murderous, thieving beast that drove the Dwarves out in the first place. Aristotle declared “Now any speech or action that manifests moral purpose of any kind will be expressive of character: the character will be good if the purpose is good”. During the course of the tale, Bilbo frequently rescues his companions in momentous acts of bravery and courage, and the Dwarves accept him not only as one of their own, but as one of the best among them-behind Thorin the heir to the Dwarven throne- but to all this Bilbo remarks simply that he’s just doing his duty. On this Aristotle remarked “The second thing to aim at is propriety (being modest, decent, respectable, etc).”

    By the time the Lonely Mountain is secured, Bilbo has been through thick and thin many times over, but he still can’t catch a break. Bilbo is worn from his journeys. Hobbits never leave the Shire and he has crossed many miles (probably all of New Zealand twice) and he longs for some rest. Aristotle determined that tragic heroes must be true to life, and it’s safe to assume that after very nearly being burnt to a crisp by a Dragon anybody would want some laxness. Thorin has reclaimed the Arkenstone, but war is brewing. Bilbo just wants peace and hospitality, just as he does in the beginning of the story. Aristotle claimed that a tragic hero had to be consistent, and Bilbo remains consistent. Bilbo does all he can to reconcile Thorin and his ambitions, appealing to the bond they’ve had thus far, but it is to no avail. Thorin admonishes Bilbo, and betrays him. This perfectly portrays Aristotle’s main view on the tragic action: “It should come about as the result not of vice, but of some great error or frailty, in a character either such as we have described, or better rather than worse.” Bilbo gets embroiled in a war he never asked for and experiences a major turn of fortune. During the war of the Five Armies Bilbo is again at the razor’s edge, but even so, after he has left the battle, he is still engulfed by greed, misery, and death. Bilbo was betrayed by one of his only kin, and for petty reasons that were no fault of his own. In this way, even though Bilbo himself does not die, his world falls apart in a calamitous tragedy, and when Bilbo says goodbye to Thorin at the end, the story reaches it’s Katharsis like a true tragedy must.

  36. Joseph Cambell’s monomyth is apparent in every hero’s tale. The three essential steps, separation, initiation, and return, have been used for thousands of years as the playbook for all heroes’ journeys. Many Disney movies, super heroes, and ancient heroes portrayed in myths follow their own unique journeys but they all have the same underlined steps. This was an eye opening truth for me, and I’m sure many others, having watched and read stories and movies such as Batman, the Lion King, the Hunger Games, and Star Wars. All these movies and books had very different settings and protagonists but they all followed the same guidelines that were established centuries ago and are considered famously successful works in the modern world even though they use ancient techniques.

  37. The scholar Joseph Campbell established core patterns of myth, and heroic tales around the world. His concepts of separation, initiation, and return can apply not only to ancient hero epics and myth, but to modern cinema and novel. For instance, the tale of Indiana Jones in the search for the lost Arch of the Covenant. In the initial beginning of the tale, or separation, Jones ventures out to find clues and leads as to where the location of the Arch might be. However Jones must go through many challenges along the adventure, battling Nazi forces that are also in search for the Arch. This would directly relate to Campbell’s concept of Initiation because the hero, Jones, goes through trials and tribulations to complete his search for the Arch. Jones eventually finds the arch, and “returns” home with a journey well accomplished. This story also fits Campbell’s concept of a Monomyth. Which is the existence of an archetypal story arch. The tale can be directly correlated to this term because of the relation between separation, initiation, and return.

  38. We are all drawn to the similar journeys of a hero that Campbell speaks of. Separation, initiation and return are popular moldings of myths because everyone likes to see the hero transform into this huge star. The Bible is the perfect example of this method. Jesus Christ was in heaven before his arrival on earth. It was prophesied that he would be the Savior of the world. Being born in humbled beginnings, (similar to Spider-man or Captain America) his future was destined for him after the fall of man. He was separated from earth and his initiation began once he was born in a manger. People all over the world knew that he was special and watched as he began to preach and philosophize at a young age. The Bible covers the trials he went through- being tempted by Satan, persecution for doing the right things, not fitting in. Jesus also gained many followers/fans who believed in his power and that he was the man spoken of in the Old Testament. Campbell believes that death and resurrection is common motif in legends. Jesus is an example of this action. He sacrificed himself on the cross to bear the burdens of the world. His return from death in three days is what caused many people to believe in him. Jesus has another return spoken of in Revelations for his final battle with Satan. He will redeem the world once and for all and give everyone who believes in him a happy ending.

  39. Joseph Campbell’s ideas and thoughts on “monomyth” can be seen in modern day plots for all of the basic super hero movies, but after learning about his ideas of separation, initiation and return, i realized just exactly how common of a basic plot structure it is. In the Disney Pixar film, Wall-E, a small robot gets himself into a little trouble in a post apocalyptical world. Following Campbells structure, Wall-E somehow finds himself separated from earth and finds himself stuck on a space ship which is aimlessly roaming around the galaxy.Wall-E then initiates himself onto the ship once he shows the Captain a small plant to indicate that life is being sustained on earth and that it is safe to return home. Finally, Wall-E is able to return to earth along with everyone else and in an obscure way he safes the day. Now what interested me is that of course you see that structure of separation, initiation and return in the common super hero movie like Batman or the X-men movies,but even in something broadcasted to a much young audience, even something so innocently looked upon like a dinky old robot can follow this structure and turn out to be an amazing story that captivates the audience.

  40. Through Joseph Campbell’s theory of a monomyth a hero must complete three basic steps; separation, initiation, and the return. My favorite myth that clearly demonstrates this theory is that of Perseus and Medusa. Perseus begins his journey by visiting the Graeae sisters and convincing them to lead him to the Hesperides. From there he retrieves a knapsack that can hold the head of Medusa, and then travels to Medusa’s cave. It is there that he commits the act that turns him into the hero; cutting of her head. He finishes the steps by returning home with his heroic prize. All of Greek Mythology are perfect examples of Joseph Campbell’s idea of the monomyth. Each story begins with a quest and then the action that makes the character truly heroic and ends with his return home and praise for becoming a hero.

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