Myth Making in the Movies (version 2.0)

Since the earliest years of the cinema, fantasy has been one of the most common filmic modes — and it is no coincidence that many (or indeed most) fantasy films feature significant elements of myth and/or tragedy.  For your final Blogpost of the semester, you have three options: 1) Returning your attentions to the ‘Wizard of Oz’, just how does the film fit with some of the key archetypes or heroic adventures we have seen so far this semester? Be specific and detailed in explaining your answer.  As an alternative here, if you’d like to address some characters or themes in another early American movie with “mythological” elements, that would be just fine.  2)  In the wake of our fun-filled screening on Monday of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, it would be interesting to hear some more words on the mythological (or tragic) elements, characters, or themes of George Lucas’s influential film. Again, if you want to address some of the ideas, heroes, or symbols in one of the other ‘Star Wars’ films that we did NOT watch (or maybe even ‘Star Trek’), that would be useful as well. 3) Finally, what do you make of the myth-making in J.R.R. Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and/or the Harry Potter franchise?  Since it is your final Blog of the semester, I have deliberately left this prompt a little bit open-ended, but I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on some of the most famous (cinematic) “myths” created in the (post)modern world!

24 thoughts on “Myth Making in the Movies (version 2.0)

  1. For my blog I would like to discuss J.R.R. Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings. Tolkien created a world of pure myth through these movies. He was a renowned scholar in the field of mythology and used this to his advantage in every way possible using all aspects of a great myth. He incorporated the rise of the hero through the journey to Mordor to destroy the all powerful ring. An object of power is shown in many stories from mythology going all the way back to ancient Greece and stories from all over the world one example being the holy grail. He also incorporate new languages along with new races and cultures into this movie giving all of them a back story and a world of there own. Lord of the rings also incorporates the mentor into the stories in many different ways from the main characters friends to the people that are sent to protect and fight with him. In this movie monsters are also incorporated many times through out the story. Tolkien world is one of pure myth and adventure. In my opinion no movie or book has ever gone as far into the world of myth as Lord of the rings because it gives a in depth look into every aspect of the world of myth. This movie is truly one of my favorites and like myths can teach many life lessons such as staying true to yourself, and bettering humanity through your journey through life. Lord of the rings is truly a master piece in modern myth.

  2. Harry Potter rocked the world in the past decade, bringing with it another obvious use of the Monomyth that has come up time and time again throughout this course. Beginning with the call to adventure, Harry is told he is a wizard upon his eleventh birthday by the tower figure of Hagrid. Immediately, Harry refuses this call to change his life until his aunt and uncle tell him his life has been a shuddered lie. Harry no longer feels the need to stay with his neglectful foster family and he crosses over to the realm of wizardery with the help of Hagrid.
    To enter the belly of the beast, Harry enters Diagon Alley to attain the tools (School Supplies) needed for his journey/transformation. Trials following Harry’s attaining of his necessary tools include the entering to the train station, the finding of his new friends, and the sorting into his house. Displaying the Meeting with the Goddess is when Harry sees and enters his beloved school of Hogwarts. This love will serve as his determination for staying in the wizarding world throughout the remained of his story.
    The temptress in this case would be Draco Malfoy, strangely enough, where Harry makes the decision to follow a different path than that which was more powerful. Where the atonement of the father appears is Harry’s meeting with Dumbledore near the Mirror of Erised. Here Harry sees Dumbledore as a fatherly figure and comes to terms with his parent’s loss when he knows they are always there for him. The scene with the mirror is where Harry faces death through the attaining of his invisibility cloak. With this, Harry is able to enter a world of deception as he is able to move about the school like no other. Harry’s cloak allows him to learn that there is a dark plot forming around him as this becomes the ultimate boon. Finding out who has been messing with his world since entering the wizarding world is Harry’s ultimate goal.
    Harry refuses to act on the things he has seen using his cloak until the time is right. Harry is able to enter the Cambers of the School and find his antagonist Voldemort in front of the same mirror as before. Harry is able to overcome his rival and is saved by his friends and teachers for his return to the norm. Harry is then able to deal with the school life at the same time as the evil fighting that he has to face through the next six years. This divided attention to both worlds makes Harry have to deal with the same recurring journey for the proceeding six years until his ultimate victory where he frees the wizarding world from Voldemort and is able to live as he pleases.
    As a myth, Harry Potter fits the perfect description. This perfect description has two parts. First Harry Potter completely fulfills the monomyth in pretty much all of his 7 books (8 movies). Harry Potter is also successful in becoming what I would call the “Modern Myth”. Modern Myth involves equal parts cult-like praise, timelessness, and reoccurrence. How many times did you see Harry Potter since the turn of the century? Exactly, enough to make Harry Potter on the same mythical level as Luke Skywalker, Superman, Cinderella, and King Arthur. And if you said no, you’re either lying or you did a poor job repressing other’s priase for this film.

  3. Wizard of Oz was a film that was ahead of it’s time. This film contains most of the elements of myth and heroes. So first there is the hero, Dorothy. She follows the hero’s journey- leaves home, rises to power, falls, and saves the town. Dorothy leaves her home in the twister. The twister brings her to a new land, the land of Oz. She rises to power, but a little differently then we are used to. Typically when someone rises to power, they become a king, leader, president, or some other high political power. Dorothy doesn’t rise to become a higher up, but becomes the hero of Munchkin Land. Munchkin Land was under the unjust (or so we are made to believe) power of the Wicked Witch. Dorothy kills the witch and becomes their hero. In return she is given the Ruby Slippers and sent on her journey. Glinda the Good Witch, is her mentor and tells her what path to take. The next thing she must encounter, is that she must fall. When Dorothy is taken hostage by the Wicked Witch of the West, that is her fall. Her friends end up saving her and then she saves the town. How? Well the first way I look at it, is that she destroys both evil witches and saves all of Oz. The second is that she saves Toto. Now a lot of people think she is whiny and its her fault that Mrs. Gultch hates her. However if you look at it like she is Toto’s protector and guardian (its far fetched I know) then she technically does save a life and saves Toto because Aunt Em sticks up to Mrs. Gulch.
    Another trope we encounter is the trickster. The Trickster in this movie is The Wizard of Oz. He is not a wizard at all, he is just an ordinary man. He puts on a facade for the whole world to hide who he really is. Each character has a hamartia, or a fatal flaw. You have the lion who lacks bravery, the scarecrow that doesn’t have a brain, the tin man who doesn’t have a heart, and Dorothy who doesn’t appreciate her home. These four characters are all on a journey together to find out the solution to this flaw. Some of the thematic elements The Wizard of Oz shares with other stories is that the idea that beauty succeeds while ugly falls. The wicked witches are ugly, and both end up dead. The beautiful witch is good and succeeds at the end. Also if we look at Mrs. Gultch and Dorothy we can see which is beautiful and which is ugly. It is also clears who ‘wins’ and who ‘looses.’
    Every story must have a lesson. A few that this one may teach is “home is where the heart is.” “There’s no place like home.” “If you look inside of yourself greatness is already there.” If you ever get the chance there is a ice cream shop in Brick called Yellow Brick Road. It is a Wizard of Oz themed ice cream parlor. It is one of my favorite childhood places. This place is on the way to Point Pleasant, so if you ever get the chance to stop, check it out! There is one in Toms River too, but it isn’t as theme oriented.

  4. The Harry Potter book series/film franchise is one of my ultimate all-time favorite books/movies to discuss and talk about. However, in all honesty, before taking this class I never really thought of the Harry Potter stories as a “myth”. Before this semester, whenever I heard the term “mythology”, my mind automatically conjured up images of Greek and Roman mythology—they were the only ideas and stories that I related to being mythical in any sense. However, as the semester is coming to an end, I see how very wrong I was in thinking this. Everything we have covered this semester from Greek mythology to Beowulf to Celtic lore and to the American Frontier all features elements of mythology in some way, shape, or form. As we conclude our semester with a focus on the modern day myths of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, I can clearly identify how these more current stories relate to myths in ancient times.

    As a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, I loved the character development and relationships, the constant struggle between good and evil, and just the genuine magic of the series that makes it all come alive. When I first saw Harry Potter was listed on our course syllabus I remember thinking to myself, “How does Harry Potter tie in with a mythology class?” and now I look back on the beloved series and think about all we have learned about in this course I find myself saying, “DUH! Of course Harry Potter relates to mythology!” Until this course, I just never really envisioned the series in this way.

    There are an endless amount of mythical references in the Harry Potter series. The constant references to his lightning bolt scar now make me think of Zeus and how the Greek God’s favorite weapon of choice was to wield lightning bolts at anyone who upset him. Even individually, the movies/books feature some sort of mythical element to them. In the very first book/movie there is a three-headed dog named Fluffy who guards the trap door leading to the Sorcerer’s Stone—an obvious reference to Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the entrance to the Underworld in Greek mythology. In the Chamber of Secrets, Harry battles and defeats a massive Basilisk under the school’s bathroom and the Basilisk has long been known and referenced in mythology as the “legendary King of the Serpents”. The Prisonser of Askaban introduces werewolves, a common element of mythology, and Harry’s godfather Sirius Black who is named after the brightest star visible in the earth’s sky after the Ancient Greek word meaning “glowing”. In the Goblet of Fire novel, during Harry’s final stage in the Triwizard Tournament, he encounters a sphinx who asks him to solve a riddle to pass beyond her, much like Oedipus was known for doing in his own story. The Order of the Phoenix features the element of a prophecy between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Prophecies have plagued myths for centuries upon centuries, from the story of Oedipus the King to Deirdre in Exile of the Sons of Uishlu. In the Half-Blood Prince, Harry’s friend and mentor Albus Dumbledore is killed. Dumbledore loved and protected Harry and could be compared to Arthurian legends as Merlin served as a wise, old mentor to Arthur—just as Dumbledore did to Harry. Lastly, the final novel/movie the Deathly Hallows features the common battle of good vs. evil and ends the tale of the “Hero’s Journey” as described by Campbell. For years, readers and audiences followed the journey of Harry Potter to see how/if he would manage to overcome his fate and see him grow up from being an orphan living in the cupboard under the stairs and become this legendary wizard and hero that was idealized in both the mythical world of Hogwarts and the realistic world of planet Earth and all those who inhabit it.

    The story of Harry Potter was always a myth and was pretty much founded off of the elements of previous myths told in ancient times. Harry’s story and his Hero’s Journey is one that deeply impacted many readers and audiences across the globe and it is perhaps in thanks to these ancient mythical elements that cause the modern day myth of Harry Potter to be so captivating. As we end this course, I can honestly say I now have a new insight into the concept of “myth” and look forward to re-reading/re-watching the Harry Potter series—and many other series—to see what other mythical elements I may have missed.

  5. In the context of a myth I think the Harry Potter series is a great example of a hero’s journey and in fitting the archetypes of a myth. In addition it goes beyond some of the traditional archetypes, and provides more in-depth characters as well. The first step of the journey in which the hero is set in the ordinary world, introduces Harry’s life with the Dursleys. Like most traditional heroes Harry is living a life were his true identity is hidden from him and he is subjected to hard work and mistreatment by his aunt, uncle, and cousin. His call to adventure occurs when Hagrid tracks him down to bring him to Hogwarts. Hagrid reveals to him that he is a wizard, and well known for being the boy who survived and to a degree destroyed Lord Voldemart, who is ultimately the villain archetype in the series. He also finds out his real parents were rich. Despite this he is reluctant to believe there is anything special about him and doubts that he is a wizard at all.
    Harry is eventually introduced to Albus Dumbledore who is his mentor. As a mentor Dumbledore often plays a limited role in most of the books, but is a strong advisor. He play a more significant role in the Half-Blood Prince, when he and Harry attempt to destroy all of the Horcruxes together, and fights off Voldemart at the ministry of magic. He doesn’t leave Harry on his own until the end of the Half-Blood Prince when he is killed. Harry’s crossing the threshold literally occurs when he enters platform 9 ¾ s to go to Hogwarts. He meets his allies such (Ron and Hermoine), as well as enemies such as Draco Malfoy, and Snape. These enemies don’t fit the traditional villain because they are not entirely evil. Draco is forced to become a death eater through his father, and Snape who kills Dumbledore, ultimately acts to protect Harry and help him defeat Voldemart. Harry’s first test include facing the troll in the bathroom, standing up to Malfoy at quiddich practice, and navigating the obstacles that lead to the sorcerer’s stone. He faces similar obstacles in each of the proceeding books as well.
    The true approach doesn’t occur until the Order of the Phoenix when Harry and his allies start to fight back against Voldemart and the death eaters. He faces many ordeals both before and after the approach. There are many moments where he is almost killed by Voldemart or death eaters, as well as when he is surrounded by undead in a cave with a poisoned Dumbledore. He literally faces his fears, when he must encounter the Dementors as well. Harry main reward is the knowledge that Voldemart can’t touch him, until the later books. He then finds out however that Voldemart is attached to him and cannot kill him without killing himself. In the end he ultimately defeats Voldemart in a huge battle at Hogwarts. The result or the elixir of the story is that he restores order to the wizarding world, and end the threat of destruction to both the wizard and muggle world.

  6. Well the movie Wizard of Oz features various aspects that we’ve covered throughout this mythological course. Dorothy symbolized both the hero as well as the princess in her role in the movie while To-do served as her trusty stead throughout the duration of the film. Her journey closely paralleled the “monomyth” outlined by Joseph Campbell; containing the three fundamental elements of Separation-Initiation-Return.
    Her separation is illustrated through the events surrounding the tornado which ultimately isolated her from her family and brought her into an alternate universe or as we know it, the yellow brick road. Along her journey she is introduced to three significant characters. Throughout a majority of the stories and myths read in this class our hero was accompanied by allies or friends. Dorothy’s adventure was no different and each character symbolized an important element in the story. The Lion was courage, the scarecrow was intelligence, and the Tin Man embodied the devotion of the heart. Those three themes do not stray from many principles found throughout the myths read this semester.
    Dorothy’s initiation was when she was met with the challenge of defeating the Wicked Witch of the West. It is not uncommon that in the various myths read the hero will have to overcome treacherous obstacles before meeting their end goal. Odyssey’s journey was filled with years of struggle and battle before he finally was able to return home. Dorothy ultimately melts the Wicked Witch of the West and in doing so is able to continue on her own adventure while also bettering the lives of those she left behind in the land.
    Finally, the return is shown through the infamous scene in Emerald City of Dorothy kicking those Ruby slippers while chanting “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Just like that, Dorothy and To-do are brought back to reality to return home to their family. Another element that connects the Wizard of Oz to mythology or rather fairy tales is the guidance of a fairy god-mother like figure such as “Glinda the Good Witch.” She brings about the supernatural element while also serving as Dorothy’s moral compass and adviser.

  7. Talking about Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope leads me to argue that it is pretty much the quintessential modern myth. Everything from Luke Skywalker’s journey falls directly in line with Campbell’s model for the hero’s journey and Lucas just uses his backdrop to modernize this ancient concept. Lucas has created a movie that incorporates Campbell’s ideas with others in order to craft a great film that examines a wide variety of different themes. The characters of Star Wars follow the models of Campbell’s theory well, with Luke Skywalker being our hero. His whole world is transformed at the death of his family, sweeping him up in the adventures of the Rebellion and later the rebuilding of the Jedi. Luke meets his mentor in Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old Jedi who watches over him until they are ready to leave for Alderaan. Luke also finds allies in R2-D2, C3P0, Chewbacca, and Han Solo. They depart for Alderaan and Luke immediately begins training with Ben to become a Jedi. When they arrive at the Death Star, Luke and company must search the battle station to save Leia and then escape, culminating in the death of Ben at the hands of his former pupil. Luke’s escape is his final trial leading to Campbell’s approach: the trench run. The rebels make a last ditch effort to prevent the Death Star from wiping them out with a small assault on the station where all but 3 fighters are destroyed. The crisis of this story is that Luke is the last hope of the galaxy to not only destroy the Death Star but to also ensure the survival of the Rebellion for another day. Of course he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without the training from Ben and the assistance from Han and Chewbacca as well as all the other rebel forces, but he overcomes his crisis and saves the day. Luke along with Han and Chewbacca receive medals for their service and then the film ends. We never reach the end of Campbell’s monomyth cycle for the adventures of the galaxy’s only Jedi were not yet over. Again, Lucas’ depiction of the monomyth is his modern take on the hero’s journey and is successful because of its popularity and its quality. Like I said in class, there aren’t many TV shows since the original trilogy came out that have not had a few references to Lucas’ epics mixed into their own programs and that is because Star Wars has become such a big part of the culture of myth and entertainment.

  8. The Wizard of Oz is a prime example of a hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a paradigm of human experience that is usually the main idea of the story. Dorothy’s quest to return home and to save her dog Toto perfectly fits the paradigm of a hero’s journey. In the story the protagonist (Dorothy) is called to action/adventure. Along the way, she is accompanied by the Scarecrow, the Tin-man, and the Lion. They all help each other on their quest to Oz. During the quest they are faced with many difficulties and barriers that they ultimately overcome. They eventually get to Oz and that is where they gain new power and knowledge.

    Sometimes the hero refuses the call at first, but then “answers” the call to adventure. The hero’s journey always involves a main character/ protagonist that has to venture far from the common day world into a supernatural region. During the journey, incredible forces are sent against the hero and he/she has to overcome great feats to ultimately becomes victorious. The hero always gains some type of insight or power that is usually obtained on the way home or right before the hero is on his way home. This can be compared to the story of the Odyssey. Where the protagonist (Odysseus) is called to action. He was on a quest to return home from the Trojan War. Along his journey, he was faced with many barriers that were in his way. He is the hero, so he found ways to overcome those barriers and ultimately got passed them, just as the hero usually does. Odysseus was ultimately victorious.

  9. Well, strangely enough, I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars films. Or any of The Lord of the Rings movies. Nor have I seen the Wizard of Oz, and I have only seen two of the eight Harry Potter films. And no, I have not been living under a rock for the past 21 years. Out of all of these, I know the most about Harry Potter and his adventures, so I will comment on my knowledge of it, as well as the cultural impact all of the movies mentioned in this blog have had.

    Harry Potter fits the mold of Campbell’s hero and the hero’s journey very well. His journey begins with his call to adventure, departing from his normal life and entering the magical world. He crosses the threshold by attending Hogwarts, and is initiated into the world of magic with the help of Dumbledore, who serves as his mentor and in some ways his father. Though each adventure Harry has is tough, he learns to accept that he is the one who must complete the journey. He comes out victorious each time, conquering the evil that is, in his trials, Voldemort. Harry is finally recognized as a hero by the school, and returns back to his old life with his aunt and uncle. Except this time he is much happier after gaining confidence, friends, and a real home. Throughout the series, Harry continues to go through the cyclic journey of Campbell’s hero, until the ultimate journey of killing the killer of his parents is completed.

    The Harry Potter series, as well as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, have amassed huge amounts of passionate followers. They are myths set in fantasy worlds or alternate realities, yet many are as knowledgable about these films/stories and their back stories as much as a devout christian would know about the bible. I feel that maybe the more our society becomes more secular and moves away from religion towards athiesm, the more people will turn to myths such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and many comic book series for moral direction in life and an explanation to all of the questions humans have for existence. After all, that is the function of myths, to answer the those unanswerable questions. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as these stories typically have good principles, but it could speak as to one reason why these films have had such a lasting effect in our modern society.

  10. Harry Potter is one of my favorite book/movie series of all time. J.K Rowling has incorporated John Campbell’s hero’s journey over the course of the seven books (eight movies). I’ve read in a few articles that Rowling got inspiration for the series through her personal life to show the good and evil, love and hate, and life and death. Basically there are two sides in the world and it is shown through the imagery and creativity of Rowling’s writing.

    Harry in the beginning is living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin who treat him like a servant and beneath them. Even in a literal sense he lived under the stair case. This was normal to Harry because he didn’t know any other life; this is the Ordinary World. He grew up in that situation until Hagrid came to tell him that he was a wizard. Being told he was a wizard and gifted with magic and that there is a school for kids like him was his called to adventure. Just like any other person Harry couldn’t believe what Hagrid was telling him and didn’t want to leave. Harry then realized that pretty much “Hey it is better than staying here” and went with Hagrid to Diagon Alley to prepare for school. During this time he realized he was thought of as a kind of celebrity as “The Boy Who Lived” with his scar as a symbol of his survival against Lord Voldemort. This notion of “fame” is continuously showed throughout the series. After gathering supplies and being sorted into the Gryffindor house Harry eventually met Albus Dumbledore, who before his death guided Harry with the help of Hagrid. Harry’s presence and attendance at Hogwarts is him crossing over to the magical realm. A more direct symbol of this is the train on platform 9 and 3/4 that transports students from the muggle world (non-magical people) to the magical world. Throughout the series Harry has a set of allies with the most consistent being Hermonie, Ron, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Hagrid. There are plenty more but that list would go on forever. His enemies are Voldemort, his supports the Death Eaters, and the Malfoys to name a few. Harry is set through a variety of tests throughout the series including facing Voldemort on multiple occasions, saving Sirius Black, winning the Tri-Wizard tournament, and etc. With the help of his friends and close allies Harry defeats all these challenges but they did come at a cost of the lives of others. The ultimate challenge was the last battle between Voldemort and Harry due to horcruxes that Voldemort created with a part of him to keep himself alive. Harry must destroy all of the horcruxes to kill Voldemort. This includes himself because when Harry survived all those years ago a part of Voldemort was left in him. Harry, being the true owner of the Elder Wand, the effects of the killing spell didn’t kill him and bounced back to Voldemort with him casting the expelliarmus spell, a defense spell. Voldemort’s death set free Harry and others in the magical world of fear, evil, and death. Completing the cycle of the Hero’s Journey.

    As much as many other people who enjoy and love the Harry Potter series like I do wish that magic and the world of magic was real, but unfortunately it is only a myth. Although it is a myth it is a new version of what witchcraft and magic has been portrayed previously. Rowling’s new take on magical myths has opened up a whole new perspective to a new generation. It is a source of entertainment but it does show there are two sides to this world and to peoples’ stories. Overall I applause what Rowling has down with her writing and will forever re-read and watch the movies.

  11. The Wizard of Oz is a classic American film that puts a new spin on the classic hero model and what exactly a hero may be. In the Wizard of Oz, the main character, Dorothy, is accompanied by a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion. Each of the four characters are a hero in their own right, some maybe more than others. For example, although Dorothy is the main character and protagonist, she does not always display the traditional hero qualities that we read about in our first unit. However, there are several other scenes that fir into the classic hero cycle.

    In the film, there is a call to action, several trials and a return home. In the beginning, she is shown in the ordinary world of Kanas, which is the first part of the hero cycle. Next she has her call to action, which is of course when the tornado rips through Kansas and she winds up in the Land of Oz. Next she meets with her mentor, which is Glinda and she is told about what she must do to return home. Shortly after meeting with the good witch, she crosses the “first threshold” when she leaves Munchkin Land and starts her journey to find the Wizard of Oz himself. Other adventures continue such as the “approach to the inmost cave” when she arrives at the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle.

    As discussed in class, Dorothy does not have the usual triumphant return home in which she saves her town. Instead, she returns home with some understanding and epiphany-like return. Also like the classic hero tale, Dorothy’s fate is in some way already predetermined. Dorothy is trying to return home and she goes through adventures with her new friends, but in the end she finds out that she had the power to return home all along. It could be argued that this was a sign of Glinda the Good Witch intervening and having a role in Dorothy’s return home.

    Some of the characters in the Wizard of Oz can fit into the hero archetype categories. Glinda is the clear mentor of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz can be considered a trickster or shape-shifter because of him hiding his identity. All in all, the Wizard of Oz provides a different style and insight and style to the journey of the hero.

  12. I would like to use two different stories and interpret them as myths, both Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings. For one, they both ideally fit Campbell’s hero character. In Star Wars, Luke starts his journey and eventually ends up fighting against the Empire and his father. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo is the hero and must destroy the ring to keep peace in Middle-Earth. Campbell describes the most common theme in myths the “Hero’s Journey.” This is very evident in both stories as they must overcome great obstacles to be successful. There is actually a social element to his descriptions too, as most myth’s must have some explanation of why the world is the way it is. The Lord of the Rings uses most of the first book/film to describe these elements, and Star Wars does the same but is more spread out (different worlds, but significant descriptions).

    Campbell also looks into how a hero could be in relation with someone of living status. This fictional character can be idealized and may be a way of showing that someone can fight through and overcome many things. Most mythological heroes are characters we could look up to, and that some may like to see as themselves. Although some of these areas may seem like an oversimplification, most myths seem to follow the same type of routine. However you analyze myths, they will have more in common than differences.

  13. To help understand the history of a particular time all one has to do is delve into the literature of that time. In the exemplary, and quite personal, case such as The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum presents to the audience a heroine who goes on a very personal journey through a utopian land to seek what was really in her all along. One might not instantly think of The Wizard of Oz as myth but the story does in fact serve as escapism for the audience and author alike and the story reflects society as a whole for the time (both of which points I will get to). All of this is what myth essentially can do, as we have discussed and read about in class. Therefore, contrary to what some may have thought before, The Wizard of Oz is a perfect embodiment of myth!
    The first most obvious comparison to The Wizard of Oz and say, other myths we have talked about, is that The Wizard of Oz follows the ubiquitous “monomyth” theme (with of course some deviations). However, what is probably the most significant difference here is that (going off of the movie) our heroine (Dorothy) has a personal desire, a yearning, to leave her insipid and colorless (literally) home-life and seek adventure. It is a call, but undoubtedly a different kind then from what we’ve seen thus far. This is probably characteristic of contemporary myth because this yearning Dorothy has is a reflection of Baum’s desires. There were some pretty hard-hitting events going on in America, it was not such a lovely place to live in at the turn of the century, so one can easily imagine why Baum wanted to escape, and he did so by writing about Oz. Dorothy’s craving for adventure is the perfect representation of Baum’s mental state. Oz was everything America was not, everything Baum wanted to see but could not, so he wrote about it. If that is not myth, what is.
    Something that we’ve probably all learned is that myth usually involves a journey, which may show itself as a heroic, spiritual, physical or in this particular case, psychological journey. Throughout the story Dorothy goes down the path of enlightenment and self-realization e.g. “the yellow/gold brick road”. This myth resonates with many people for those reasons but also because it includes elements of morality such as good and evil (the Two Witches), and it has an overarching fantastical element that really embodies the mythic element of the story. All these reasons have contributed to the sustainability of the story as a myth, but more importantly, as a permanent piece in America’s genetic makeup.

  14. The Monomyth of the Wizard of Oz is a compelling and timeless tale featuring one of America’s most famous sweethearts, who finds herself in the midst of a hero’s journey suddenly and unexpectedly. In the movie the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy embarks on an entertaining and enlightening adventure to and from the colorful Land of Oz Her adventure can undoubtedly be paralleled to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey which has been the case for many hero’s we have read about. Dorothy begins her journey in the Ordinary World. Dorothy lives in Kansas on a farm with her aunt and uncle and the setting is depicted as dreadful and dreary, colored in black and white to further portray the bleakness of the ‘ordinary world’ stage of the journey. Dorothy’s Call to Adventure takes place when the tornado comes because as a result of the tornado, Dorothy ends up in Oz and this is where her quest formally and consensually begins. Dorothy Refuses the Call when she tries to return to the farm to be with Autie Em who is sick. The next stage of the hero’s journey, Meeting with the Mentor, takes place when Dorothy first meets Glinda who instructs Dorothy on how to get to the Wizard of Oz and also warns her of the wicked witch and instructs her not to take off her red ruby slippers. Dorothy Crosses the First Threshold of her journey when she begins her trek on the yellow brick road as this is where she initially and fully commits to a purpose on the journey. The Tests, Allies and Enemies Dorothy encounters make up a great portion of her adventure. There are many instances and examples of tests which Dorothy must pass. Dorothy’s allies are undoubtedly The Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion and Toto and Glinda can also be considered allies. Dorothy’s enemies are the Wicked witch of the West and of course, Miss Gultch, who wanted to take Toto. The next step in the journey, The Approach to the Inmost Cave, takes place when Dorothy must choose between Toto and her ruby red slippers. After the approach to the inmost cave comes The Ordeal part of Dorothy’s hero adventure which occurs when the Wicked Witch of the West sets the Scarecrow on fire at which point Dorothy saves him with a bucket of water, ultimately melting the wicked witch unintentionally. Dorothy’s reward from the journey is the knowledge she finds which can be seen as her questioning of authority. The Road Back for Dorothy occurs when Glinda appears and explains to Dorothy the reason she did not tell her about her ability to return home. This is the point in the movie where Dorothy encounters a revelation about reality and life. The Resurrection aspect of the hero’s journey happens when Dorothy has grown up and learned enough to return home to Kansas. The final stage of the hero’s journey, the Return with the Elixir occurs when Dorothy wakes up in Kansas as a completely new and enlightened heroine. Her journey has forced her to grow and change and through her experience, she has learned a lot about life and believing in herself. Her knowledge serves as the elixir.

  15. The entire Star Wars franchise is an excellent example of modern day myth. It all begins in episode four when Luke is called upon to learn the ways of the Jedi. At first he does not want to accept this fate, but he then realizes that he must leave his home for a greater purpose. This is also the first step of a hero’s journey. He then goes through training to learn the ways of the force, and the powers it has. An example of this is when he first meets Yoda. His ship is stuck in the lake and he uses the force to lift it out. Here Luke realizes the true power of the force and his ability to use it. Luke then encounters the dark side and is tempted to join them. He resist this temptation as he follows his path to learn what is right. Luke destroys the death star and is welcomed back as a hero at the end of the movie. This finishes the journey of a hero. Overall the star wars franchise has captured the imagination of many. They use myth to show what the future may look like and the world that we may one day live in. They use many common themes such as good vs evil. Internal conflict is also seen among characters, such as when Darth Vader becomes good at the end and saves his son. Star Wars is an iconic film that many people have seen and taken ideas from. I believe that it will continue to be a mythical story that will be told for generations to come.

  16. I decided to look at the story of Wizard of Oz, as in fact is relates entirely to previous hero stories and journey that we have encountered throughout the course of the semester. The first thing I can make connection with of the fantasy whirlwind on a tale, with the earlier more traditional stories, is the characters. Dorothy is the main character or hero in this tale, a female young little girl, with her side kick companion toto. In this story they continue with the theme of animals and how they played a role in most of the heroes journeys in previous tales, and more importantly the presence or “good” and “evil” animals as well, and taking on these human like personalities. There is also the familiar character of the “villian” who in this case would be the wicked witch of the west, who bring upon the hero’s strife and problems along their journey. Another character that was familiar too me, was Glinda the good witch who resembled that of a “fairy god mother” if you will, if earlier tales, that assist the hero in their journey. The Munchins represent the society, or the people they they are trying to protect. Characters like the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man are the supporting characters whom assist the hero in their journey.
    The journey itself is compared here as well. Dorothy is called to action when she lands in Munchkin land and has to protect them, she triumphs over the wicked witch, and and eventually returns to her home of Kansas.
    There is elements of disaster with the Tornado, which can be compared to early myth to something like a flood. There is the presence of trickster with the Wizard of Oz. I feel as in the “yellow brick road” is a literal representation of the journey she is traveling through her heroic success.

  17. In the wake of our fun-filled screening on Monday of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, it would be interesting to hear some more words on the mythological (or tragic) elements, characters, or themes of George Lucas’s influential film. Again, if you want to address some of the ideas, heroes, or symbols in one of the other ‘Star Wars’ films that we did NOT watch (or maybe even ‘Star Trek’), that would be useful as well.

    The thing about Star Wars, in and past the films, is the fact that it is set in a galaxy far, far away in a massive universe. Literally anything and everything occurs, has occured, or will occur. It is a galaxy filled with a mixture of foreboding planets that are barren with sulfuric air, lush paradises with life and wildlife previously unimaginable and beautifuly terrifying, and cityscapes that go to the cores of planets to the top of their polluted atmospheres.

    The beasts on these planets are iconic, like the Rancor. The Rancor is a gigantic beast almost akin to a cyclops in its stupidity and barbarism. It seems to focus mostly on screaming, smashing, and eating, one of which is scenically located in Jabba’s Palace. But there are also Krayt Dragons, gigantic lizards who are attracted to the dark side of the force and secrete poison, rip Bantha and people to shreds, and are the most terrifying force on Tatooine. For killing these giant beasts? You get a wonderful and beautiful pearl (notable used in Lightsaber construction and modification).

    So indeed, this world is full of its hells and paradises alike. These hells and paradises are filled with their own beautiful and terrifying monsters and animals. As in mythology. And while we can look around the galaxy and ponder “where are the Gods?” we do have a system of magic: the Force. And as ever in the hands of magic, we do find that the power of “Gods” is really in ordinary men. Star Wars tackles at familiar concepts, such as the “chosen one” (Anakin / Luke Skywalker) which ties directly in this case to a tragic hero (Anakin literally is burned, mutilated, and loses his wife (not to mention custody of his kids) in about an hour or two. Luke, despite overcoming his adversity and ultimately triumphing, loses his mentors, family, hand, and kisses his sister). And as mentioned in class, Campbell and Lucas were bros, so attempting to point out a connection between Star Wars and his works is like trying to prove the sky is blue.

    With all these held in mind, Star Wars has its notes from a time long past to make itself a myth, deep layed with many themes, monsters, and planets to keep people interested in a galaxy far, far away well past our life times.

  18. The Wizard of Oz is a classical movie. One of the heroes in this movie is Dorothy. She is a teen-aged girl, looking to find her way back home, while also on a journey to find the Wizard of Oz, to help her friends. (The lion, scarecrow and tin man) Dorothy becomes the hero by killing of the wicked witch. She is not in power, but once the witch dies, Dorothy is the hero.
    The Wizard of Oz is not all he is thought to be. He is not even a real Wizard. He is just a regular man trying to be something he is not. I would consider him being a trickster. Dorothy, the lion, scarecrow, and tin man were all on there way to see the Wizard of Oz, because each of them needed something. (Courage, a heart, a brain, and to get back home).
    Dorothy had come to realize that all along each of them had what they were looking for. They didn’t need magic or power to give them what they wanted, because it was already right in front of them.
    Another character in the Wizard of Oz that sticks out is Glinda (the good witch). She is the mentor for Dorothy, and helps her to get where she is going. This movie shows how a young girl can be a hero and find what she is after.

  19. The ‘Wizard of Oz’ does follow the hero’s journey. Dorothy is obviously the hero. She is called to go on an adventure to Oz when the tornado strikes. This is the separation part of Dorothy’s journey. She is separated from her home into the magical world of Oz. There, she meets her mentor, Glinda the Good Witch. Glinda tells her to travel to the Wizard by following the yellow brick road. This is her initiation to her adventure to meet the Wizard. On her journey, she meets her three threshold guardians, the cowardly lion, the tin man, and the scarecrow. These characters symbolize courage, love, and intelligence. When she meets the Wicked Witch on her journey, she does not fight her like all the other heroes do. Instead, she is captured and then saved by her friends. This is one of the details that make people question if ‘The Wizard of Oz’ uses the hero’s journey formula. When she finally gets to the Emerald City and meets the all powerful wizard, she finds that he is a fraud. He is the trickster of the myth because he puts on a fake persona that he is an actual wizard when he is just an ordinary man. At the end of the movie, she realizes that she had the ability to return home all along. However, she needed to learn her lessons before she returned. Dorothy’s return home was not like the usual hero stories’ endings. All she did was tap her shoes together and woke up with all her family and friends around her. There was no big celebration and the hero did not come back with the elixir. The only thing that Dorothy came back with was a new mindset. She realized that there really was no place like home.

  20. I had never thought of Lord of the Rings as mythology before reading that one news article. Even after reading it, I still have doubts regarding that idea. To me, the the books are just that — books. In my mind, mythology must have a greater purpose. In ancient times it was used to explain the unexplainable and therefore played huge roles in society. And while Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars are much more significant than other stories written over the past 100 years, it feels unjust to call them mythology. They do contain mythological elements such as heroes and elves and magic and therefore can be placed under a subsection of mythology. A section that has its name ending with an asterisk that in the footnotes says “this is sort of mythology but not exactly”. To define those works as myth, the word myth itself would need a new definition. Myth does not exist in our society in the traditional sense. Scientific knowledge has replaced myth for the most part, although some myths do still exist even in science. I respect Lord of The Rings and Star Wars for the epic story, mythological elements, and impact they have had on our society but I do not feel comfortable calling them myths.

  21. I found it most interesting as we began discussing fairytales, and recent American myth, that Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc., are consider mythical films. Wizard of Oz is the only film that we discussed that I have seen before taking this class, so of course I have a better understanding of this movie than the others. However, still, to learn that Wizard of Oz is the great American folklore/myth was confusing; but only until I read more and understood about the breakdown of the classical heroes journey that Dorothy seems to be leading her way through. Dorothy is in fact pretty simply the hero in the Wizard of Oz. She is left with a problem, being that her house was in a “tornado” and she is now in Oz, and she immediately begins to do what she has to to eventually get home. Of course she saves a few people on the way, and saves the city at the end of the day. Just from those actions alone, the movie is set up to be heroic.
    Adding to the “Dorothy saves the day” plot, there are other characters involved in the story that support the heroic tale. One of these characters would be Glinda, the good witch. This is because when Dorothy arrives in Oz, Glinda is the first person she meets, and eventually is her only way of guidance on how to get to the Emerald City. She plays the perfect role of a “mentor” to Dorothy.
    Next, a hero wouldn’t be a hero if they did not have to over come something great. Yes, Dorothy helps a few people, and frees the munchkins, but ultimately, there would be no salvation without the trouble from the Wicked Witch. The Wicked Witch is the typical bad guy/trickster in a heroic tale. Out of jealousy, and anger she tries to end Dorothy’s life, but is ultimately defeated, as tricksters mostly are.
    Lastly, at this time in the semester, after all that we have discussed and learned, I come to think that the most important part of the heroic tale of the Wizard of Oz is the happy ending. In many of the pieces of literature we discussed throughout the semester, espicially in the beginning of the semester, there was not too many endings that lived happily ever after, and ended up better than the beginning. The beginning of the movie hints that there may be turmoil within the family, espicially with Dorothy being a little annoying. But at the end of the movie with Dorothy returns, and everyone seems so blessed and thankful to have her back, is when I realized that this is the perfect ending to a heroes story, or to classic American myth.

  22. Some of the mythological themes of Star Wars that can really classify it as a myth is the intro that leads before the movie, ” Along time ago in a galaxy far, far away” when that is said, it makes it sound like these are stories that have been passed down for generations. Also Star Wars incorporates a lot of classic myth themes in it, such as a almost divine hero sent to save everyone. Anakin was born purely out of the force, and the force can be seen as the Holy Spirit in Christianity. Anakin was born into poverty, Jesus was born in a manger surrounded with farm animals. Anakin shows skills of using the force naturally, Jesus when he was twelve, he was teaching the local rabbis. When Jedi’s die, they become one with the Force, when we die, we go to heaven.

    Some other ways that the movie franchise fits common myth themes is the first movie that was made Star Wars A New Hope. Luke Skywalker originally does not want to get involved with the rebellion much like how ancient myths have hero’s that take a while before they accept their fate. Only through a tragedy does Luke leave. And the last way that the movie represents modern day myths is that in the end, good always triumphs over evil. Once Anakin becomes evil, he loses in his battle with Obi wan and nearly dies in it, getting mutilated in the process.

  23. Its funny how the Hero’s Journey can be applied to so many stories, from those from early ancient myths to today’s popular media such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. Growing up, Wizard of Oz was one of my favorite movies and I would watch it multiple times a week (mostly I just really liked Dorothy’s red slippers and anything sparkly like the good witch’s outfit) It was interesting to look at one of my favorite childhood movies now that I am older and from a different perspective, and it was also surprising to see that the idea of the Hero’s journey was also evident in the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy goes through almost all of the criteria for the hero’s journey. She begins in the ordinary world, Kansas, on her family’s farm. She is troubled by ordinary things such as pesty neighbors, or falling into a pigs pen (well, ordinary for someone in Kansas, I guess). The tornado is the beginning of her call to adventure, as it is her connection to the new world and her journey when her house is lifted into the cyclone (depending on whether or not one follows the movie version or book version, this could be argued as to whether or not it is really an adventure at all, but I think it is) Dorothy refuses the call in her disbelief when she first arrives to the new land, and denies over and over again that she is a witch, complaining that she only wants to go home. However, meeting with her mentor, the good witch Glinda, gives her the courage and direction needed for her journey. Glinda helps her deal with the threats of the wicked witch of the east, gives her advice, and tells her what to do. There are many thresholds that Dorothy must cross, but he journey begins with her first step on the yellow brick road. Along the way she makes friends, (the lion, the scarecrow, and the tinman) all of which came with their own obstacles. She also makes enemies along the way, such as the witch and the evil flying monkeys. She overcomes many tests, the biggest being the journey itself. The big ordeal was conquering the wicked witch and her clan at the castle. The fact that Oz is not who he says he is can also be seen as an ordeal. Dorothy’s reward is the lesson learned, the friends made, and her eventual return home. She gains a new appreciation for her life and family. When she awakens from her dream (or was it? this is arguable) it is her resurrection. Other archetypes are also evident in the Wizard of Oz. Todo the dog is her shadow as he follows her throughout the entire journey. The trickster is the wicked witch and maybe even Oz depending on how you look at it.

  24. The film franchise star wars is entertaining and resembles many aspects of the hero with a thousand faces. In a way it defines scientific fiction myths by giving visual aids to space travel and the mysterious energy of the force. This mysterious energy is the key to the transcendent magic of the stories. The Jedi describe the force as an energy field that sustains all living things. An individual may sense the force as intuition, or something spiritual. Another interesting aspect is the impact of one’s choice after the adventure, an individual could be on the path to good but in the end the hero chooses to be evil. This is an interesting plot twist because it shows the emergence of a new villain and changing the hero’s journey. The film is set into the future, letting all possibilities open to describe what the future might become. This idea peeks the interest of many from the public and provides a grand setting to highly produce the characters.

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