Tragedy, the Monomyth, and Stories of Creation/Destruction

This week, we are working to lay important intellectual foundations for our class by introducing the classical theories of Aristotle (on the subject of tragedy) and the recent scholarship of Joseph Campbell (on the “monomyth” and the mythical hero).  To more fully comprehend the theories in question and the first mythical stories on the syllabus – myths of creation and flood/apocalypse stories from the ancient world – I want see how you can tie them together in a very specific way.  You have two options for this exploration.  1)  In the first case, you may apply specific ideas from Aristotle’s theories of tragedy to a specific myth (assigned for Wednesday) of your choosing.  I was particularly 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 to consider how the characters fit Aristotle’s ideals – especially of the “tragic hero.”  2)  On the other hand, you might work with and through key ideas from Campbell’s influential scholarship.  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.  Alternately, 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).   For this first Blog post of the semester, it’s all about applied critical thinking – and it will be interesting to see what kinds of intellectual connections you can make by utilizing the ideas of Aristotle or Campbell.

24 thoughts on “Tragedy, the Monomyth, and Stories of Creation/Destruction

  1. Exploring Joseph Campbell’s Key Ideas

    I am going to explore the step in The Hero’s Journey, in which the tragic hero encounters his “Supernatural aid.” Before I get into the specifics, the three major steps in The Hero’s Journey are the separation, the initiation, and the return. These steps make the journey interesting, entertaining, and are a chance for the hero in the story to grow. I like to think of these three steps in very general terms, as the beginning, middle, and end of a story. Specifically, I would like to focus on the hero’s encounter with their supernatural aid, which typically occurs in the separation part of the story.
    The first question that comes to mind is, what exactly the meaning of “supernatural” is? The supernatural aid in the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling is Hagrid, who can be considered as a supernatural figure. Hagrid is technically supernatural because he is introduced as a man who is half human, and half giant, but can their be a supernatural aid who is just human? In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes a supernatural helper, as “In fairy lore it may be some little fellow of the wood, some wizard, hermit, shepherd, or smith, who appears, to supply the amulets and advice that the hero will require.” (66.2) Campbell explains a supernatural mentor as sometimes being a wizard, hermit, or fellow of the woods. My question is, can there be a supernatural aid that is not necessarily, “supernatural?”
    After researching this question, I found that there are many examples of supernatural helpers that do not necessarily fit into the category of “above the laws of nature.” For example, in the movie, The Amazing Spiderman, Uncle Ben is Peter Parker’s supernatural aid. Uncle Ben is not a supernatural wizard or fairy, he is a human, but he is still considered Peter Parker’s mentor. As I was exploring Joseph Campbell’s steps in the Hero’s Journey, I found that supernatural aids do not always have to be “supernatural,” they can simply be wiser or older figures in a character’s life.

    Works Cited

    Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. New World Library, 2008.

    Shmoop Editorial Team. “The Mentor in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 11 Sep. 2017.

  2. Joseph Campbell’s theory of a “monomyth”, meaning that all stories follow the same basic pattern was at first seen as absurd when he first introduced it to the public. It was especially taken wrong when the monomyth was applied to religion, which clearly rubbed some people wrong. However, when you examine myths with this idea in mind, it is very interesting to see how true it is. One type of myth that nearly all ancient groups have is a creation story. It is very easy to see the monomyth in these stories.
    Many creation stores, regardless of where in the world they were generated, begin with some form of order emerging from Chaos. In some stories Chaos is seen as an actually living thing, while in other stories, such as China’s story of a giant egg, it is seen as a mixture of two things, Yin and Yang. Next, the world has to be created, and this usually happens with some relation to water. This could be a flood, as it is in Chinese mythology, or it could be that water is a mother figure and the land is her son, which is common in many mythologies. During this process, a High God is usually created, and he creates other gods, which end up having a war in Heaven. A classic example of this is Greek Mythology, where Zeus and his siblings find themselves fighting their father and his Titans. From this there comes the emergence of a king god, in the case of Greek mythology that would be Zeus. This god, along with other gods, depending on the mythology, teaches people lessons on how to survive in their newly created world. One way to visualize this is looking at religion as myth, which some may agree with and some may not. If you look at it this way, the story of Adam and Eve is a classic example of humans learning what they can and cannot do in their new world.
    Another common theme in creation stories from around the world is that there are usually opposites involved. An obvious example of this is Yin and Yang, the idea that there must be opposites for the world to live in harmony. However, as many ancient mythologies relate to each other in their ideas of a creation story, they also relate to the monomyth in their beliefs on the way the world will end. Most stories involve an apocalyptic situation, often involving a horrific flood or other natural disaster. A common theme of evil prevailing over good is seen in many mythologies, a great example of the monomyth. Often there will be a time of judgement, involving the God interacting with the people to determine their futures’.
    In all of these stories of creation and destruction, the many common themes are easy to point out. These stories, from all over the world, somehow relate to one another, and are practically the same, but with different names and ideas. They are like one story, the monomyth. It makes you wonder how the stories could be so similar, if many of these ancient peoples could have never interacted with one another. This makes the idea of the monomyth extremely interesting.

  3. Aristotle and Genesis

    When applying the concepts of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy to a particular creation myth, one can directly see a parallel to Adam and Eve being tragic heroes in the story of Genesis. As God’s holy creation, they are seen to be blessed and good, pure in a sense, without sin. Aristotle’s definition of tragedy is so that it focuses on one particular serious event, in this case it is the Original Sin of Disobedience created by Adam and Eve which in turn results from their fall from grace and ultimate expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Likewise, the whole creation story of Genesis is unified, it follows one whole pattern. God begins by creating Heaven and Earth and all the creatures to inhabit it, and on the last day he creates man to be the Supreme steward from clay, soon after he creates woman to be his partner. Since they are human, they are not perfect, therefore they have one particular hamartia about them, in this case it is gullibility and disobedience. Eve lets the Serpent trick her into eating the forbidden fruit that God told her not to touch, soon after she convinces Adam to do the same thing. Since they have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge they themselves go from ignorance to knowledge and realize that they are naked, so they go to try and hide themselves from God. This part of the story can most likely be attributed to being a catharsis as one can relate to the amount of fear that is going through Adam and Eve’s body for they know that they have sinned against their creator and there will most certainly be a horrible punishment. When God discovers what has happened and even more so that Adam and Eve lied to him about it. He inflicts a great punishment upon them which one could most definitely say was not deserved. God takes away their immortality, he says they will have to work by the sweat of their brow to survive and childbirth for women will be long and painful, and finally Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden. The story itself goes from a completely warm, good, benevolent state in the beginning to one of despair and damnation in the end, a complete peripity of plot. Humans to this day see their life as being just like Adam and Eve in that they are not perfect, they are just like Adam and Eve because they are descendants of the same sinners, Genesis is the complete mimesis of ordinary human life because it is the model from which humans came from, the exact blueprint for modern human behavior.
    The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments ; Translated out of the Original Tongues and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. American Bible Society, 1986.

  4. A Superhero’s Journey
    Many superheroes follow the the outline developed by the Hero’s Journey, to an extent. Most heroes never get the ending, or return, outlined in Campbell’s work. The closest a comic book superhero gets to going through the full “Hero’s Journey” is actually what happens before the normal person actually becomes a “Superhero.” In this I will specifically be focusing on Bruce Wayne’s long journey to become the Batman and how it more closely follows the Hero’s Journey than his actual adventures as Batman.
    Bruce Wayne starts off as a happy young boy with his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, in Gotham City. One day, when Bruce is ten years old, he and his parents go to a movie where his parents are shot and killed in an alleyway. This event is Bruce’s call to action. This event directly leads to Batman’s crusade on crime in his city. At first this led to Bruce giving up and going into a depression until some words from his butler, Alfred, led to Bruce’s re-invigoration. I would also consider Alfred to be the “Supernatural Aid” of Bruce. Although he is not supernatural, similar to what Austyn has pointed out above with Uncle Ben, he is Bruce’s wise mentor. Bruce finally was prepared to do what he has to do to save his city, but he is still only 10 years old and pretty weak. Over the next 10-15 years Bruce trains his mind and body, travelling the world and learning new ways of fighting, meeting new teachers, and overcoming many challenges on his journey until he is finally able to return to Gotham City. Finalizing the journey outlined by Campbell, Bruce has become a changed man and is now ready to become, The Batman. Although his journey as Batman is just beginning, his true “Hero’s Journey” as Bruce Wayne has been completed.

  5. Joseph Campbell is most famous for his work “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. In this piece, Campbell explains that there are several basic stages that almost every hero goes through on their journey. Campbell calls this “the Monomyth”. There are 3 main stages of this journey- separation, initiation, and the return home. These three stages are what make the Hero’s Journey so interesting.
    For this blog post, I will be addressing the stage in The Hero’s Journey where the tragic hero is met with temptation. This stage of the journey usually takes place in the initiation section. The hero is usually so preoccupied with some kind of selfish pleasure, that they stray from the journey they are meant to fulfill. In older pieces, temptation was depicted as a beautiful woman, tempting a man (our tragic hero) to stray from or even abandoned his quest. This occasionally would lead to the tragic hero’s death if he was to give into the temptation. A well-known example of this kind of temptation is in Homer’s “The Odyssey”. As Odysseus and his men approach the island of Sirens, Odysseus has his men plug their ears with wax, so they cannot be swayed by the Sirens’ song. However, Odysseus himself hears the song and begs his men to untie him, so that he may join the Sirens. If his men had let him go, Odysseus’ journey would have ended quite differently.
    However, the modern-day view of temptation varies. The temptation a hero may face on their journey may not be a person, but an object, or creature instead. In “Lord of the Rings”, Frodo faces temptation from the Ring all throughout the movie and novel. It constantly reminds him of all the power he could have if he was to wear it. This is a similar situation to the infamous Infinity Gauntlet in marvel comics. Power is a temptation that most find hard to resist. In the classic Disney film, “Aladdin” temptation makes itself known in the form of magic. Once Aladdin realizes he has been giving three wishes, he is tempted several times to make wishes, even though he knows he may need them later on. A final example of temptation in modern-day movies and novels is the temptation of money. Villains, or the “bad guys”, of the story may try and bribe the hero to keep a secret or to complete a certain task. If the hero were to accept the bribe, they would stray from their journey

  6. I chose to explore the key ideas of Joseph Campbell by examining the use of monomyth in a story such as The Hunger Games. It is know that the three most prominent steps of The Hero’s Journey are separation, initiation, and return. In this case, you will find all three steps in this story.
    Katniss Everdeen’s Call to Adventure occurred when her sister, Prim was drawn as District 12’s participant in the annual Hunger Games. Katniss is infuriated and can’t bear to lose her sister, so she decides to take Prim’s place and volunteer as tribute. Shortly after, Katniss is taken away from her family and friends which leads to the first step: separation.
    Within time, Katniss leads to the next step: initiation. Katniss goes through initiation when she is sent to the arena where she must not only survive, but keep Peeta, her fellow District 12 tribute alive. The final step of her initiation is when she gains sponsors as she’s fighting in the arena. As she gains these sponsors, she realizes that she is becoming a hero. They have faith in her and are rooting for her to win the games.
    In the return stage, Peeta and Katniss both survive which is more than anticipated since there can only be one winner of the games. The reason for this is due to Katniss which makes her even more of a hero. They both get to return back to District 12 and live a life full of luxury or so they think? It turns out that they have actually insinuated an issue that is more than they can control, which leads to a sequel of The Hunger Games.
    Overall, I found it really interested to know that you don’t have to be supernatural to be a hero. There wasn’t a time in The Hunger Games when Katniss had a higher advantage over others based off a supernatural gift. She’s simply a person who was naturally gifted with intelligence, strength, and compassion. That’s what made her a hero.

  7. Joseph Campbell defined a layout for hero stories of separation, initiation, and return. Campbell’s point was that, essentially, all stories are really the same with just twists of details. This cyclic pattern can be seen in nearly any tale if looked for and specifically in works like The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and Moana. A step by step comparison of Campbell’s main “sections” of the Hero’s Journey shows just how similar these stories are, despite their apparent differences, as “monomyths”.
    Starting with the first step of separation, a very neat division can be seen where the main character crosses the threshold into the unknown. Bilbo Baggins leaves his familiar shire with a troupe of dwarves and a wizard headed for enchanted forests, dragons, and war. Harry Potter quite literally finds himself in another world of wizards, mystery, and danger. Moana sails beyond the reef which hasn’t been crossed in generations by her people to find a demigod and save the world. Each and every one of these characters are flung from their comfort zones into new realities where there is no going back and they must make new allies and enemies.
    The next phase of the journey is initiation where the heroes face fantastic danger and hardship. Just looking at a few of Bilbo’s myriad adventures shows that he outsmarts Gollum in a game of riddles, outwits elves to save his friends, and steals from a dragon to stop a war. Poor Bilbo had quite the introduction to being a hero, yet he was not the only one. Harry Potter is forced to fight for his friends and his life against the evil wizard Voldemort and hunts him down through a series of clues and hard won knowledge. Moana finds herself shipwrecked, running around in the realm of monsters, and fighting a lava monster all while learning how to become a voyager. These trials not only initiate the main characters into their new lives as heroes, but help them grow as people, changing them forever for their inevitable return.
    The return is a trip of reluctance and necessity where each character revisits their old world and merges it with who they have become. Bilbo returns well travelled, wizened of the world, rich, a professional burglar, and with a healthy streak of mischief concerning his ring of power. No longer a secluded hobbit, Bilbo remains connected with his friends and keeps up with the world around him now aware of the bigger events at play. With summer break upon him, Harry Potter returns home to find himself given a little more respect from his adoptive family and a newfound confidence thanks to his knowledge that he is a wizard and will always have a place where he belongs in the world of magic. Meanwhile, Moana sails back successfully having saved her island and gained the abilities of a seasoned, courageous voyager. Her tribe behind her, Moana finally steps into her role as chief and leads them off to explore the ocean and the islands that fill it.
    Now that each story has been broken down into Campbell’s key phases, the cycle of the Hero’s Journey can be seen clearly in all of them. It is almost like they are the same stories. The term “monomyth” does not seem to be so mythical after all once Campbell’s cycle is unveiled.

  8. Tragic Heroes in Children’s Books

    Everyone, no matter who they are, has at some point in their lives come into contact with a story that focuses on what Aristotle described as a tragic hero. However, that “contact” might have happened earlier than you had originally thought. But, what classifies a character as a tragic hero? To Aristotle, a tragic hero is, “a literary character who makes a judgment error that inevitably leads to his/her own destruction,”(1) and over all the character should posses certain traits and follow structural plot points such as:

    -Noble birth
    -Hamartia/ Tragic Flaw
    -Peripeteia/ Downfall by Hamartia
    -Epiphany/ Realization
    -Catharsis/ Pity

    One character in children’s literature that best fits this description would be The Giving Tree from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Following down the outlined path, many lines can be drawn connecting the apple tree with symbolism of nobility and virtue. The apple tree has particularly bold symbolic value in Celtic culture, as it “concerns many admirable qualities such as purity, integrity, completeness and generosity”(2). Being associated with characteristics, especially that of integrity which is a synonym for nobility, really helps to highlight the innate nobility that our main character naturally posses. Next is hamartia and peripeteia, which are two traits that are more easily identifiable in the story itself. If you are not familiar with The Giving Tree, it is about an apple tree a boy throughout numerous stages in their lives. As a child, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing her trunk, swinging from her branches, and eating her apples. However, as the boy grows older, he spends less time with the tree and tends to visit her only when he wants material items. The tree, in a way, longs for the days when he was a child, repeatedly asking, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy,” to which the boy repeatedly refuses. In an effort to make him happy, the tree gives away parts of herself, which he can transform into the material items he desires, and at the end, she is nothing but a stump. The tree’s unconditional love for the boy is her hamartia, and her stump state at the end of the book is her peripeteia. Not even that it’s unconditional love, it’s more that the tree loves the boy more than itself, and again her giving nature literally whittles her down to almost nothing.
    While rereading this story, I almost thought that the tree didn’t have an epiphany or realization to what her actions had done to her, but it turns out she does towards the end when the boy comes to visit her one last time. The apple tree goes on to say, “I wish that I could give you something….but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry….” She has a realization that she gave all of her away to the boy, and even in this moment apologizes to him for not having anything left to give due to again her unconditional love. The catharsis, or our release of strong emotions, then comes from the realization that not only does the tree still have something to offer to the boy, but also that it is not something material, he only desires a place to sit and rest in his old age. While this story may not fit the description to a complete tee, I would still argue the fact that the character of the apple tree fits into Aristotle’s description of a Tragic hero. The Giving Tree flows through the bulleted stages that most tragic heroes follow very closely and aligns with them in some way shape or form. While the ending is more of a happy one, that doesn’t dismiss this story’s inherent sense of tragedy. It’s not that our characters aren’t in a tragic state at the end of the story, but more that they’ve come to terms with it, and ultimately are okay with it.


  9. Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedies Applied to Oedipus Rex

    Ancient philosopher, Aristotle, broke down the plot of a tragedy into three simple parts: reversal, recognition, and suffering. In addition to these three parts, he insisted that every tragedy accomplishes a catharsis. He also defined the “tragic hero” of a great tragedy as a decent man who experiences great misfortune. These concepts can easily be applied to the play, Oedipus Rex.
    When the city of Thebes is struck by a plague, they turn to their king, Oedipus. He consults the prophet, Tiresias and is told that the cause for the plague is the murder of Oedipus’s predecessor and his wife’s former husband, King Laius. He then tells Oedipus that not only is he the murderer, but he is Laius’s son and he is married to his mother. This point in the story reveals not only the tragic flaw of the tragic hero, but also the reversal of fortune. Oedipus killed his father and has married and procreated with his mother. Although he is in complete denial of this, the audience knows the truth and the initial build of emotions begins that will later lead to the catharsis.
    The recognition stage of the plot comes soon after when Oedipus discovers he is adopted. This part of the story progression is essential because the tragic hero must discover his or her tragic flaw. The catharsis takes place when the more than deserved suffering occurs as Oedipus blinds himself when he discovers his wife, who is also his mother, had hung herself in grief.

  10. An American mythologist and writer named Joseph Campbell believed every hero goes through three main steps in their journey. The steps include separation, initiation, and return while obtaining some supernatural influence in the beginning of their journeys. However, these steps do not always end the way imagined by the readers. This is preeminently seen in the Creation myth from India, Manu. In the beginning, it starts with separation. This is where an event happens that ultimately makes the protagonist embark on a life-changing journey. While examining the Creation Myth this is seen early on when Manu, an average man, had left for his daily trip of hand washing. Once there he had been approached by a fish (supernatural assistance). This fish urged him for a favor and in return he offered Manu’s life. The fish warned of a flood that would eliminate every creature. After this, the fish had given Manu strict instructions on what he had to do if he wanted to survive the flood. It is important to note the fish is a key detail in correlating Campbell’s ideas, because he insists supernatural aid appears in every myth. Following the three-step plan after separation comes initiation. Initiation is illustrated through the main character having to prove himself by facing his fear, or completing a task. For Manu, the task had been to keep the talking fish in a jar until he could no longer fit, then release it back into the ocean. Upon release, Manu was supposed to obtain a boat and wait for this talking fish. This and only this, would save Manu’s life from the flood destined to come. While this holds true one could also argue the fact that Manu had been doing these tasks to evade his own fears which would have been death. Once the initiation had been completed and the task was completed the last stage in the Hero’s Journey begins, return. Return is conveyed when the Protagonist/hero of the story returns to his once mediocre life. However, the life he is returning to is forever changed by his prior excursion, whether it be physically or mentally. After Manu followed all the supernatural fish’s orders, he resided on his boat. The Earth had been flooded and as he said the fish eventually rescued Manu. Differently from other hero’s journeys, when Manu was finished with his he wasn’t met with a grateful, happy town; rather, he was left the last person alive on Earth. Overall, even though some of the stages are a bit skewed from the original concepts, the Indian creation story does closely follow Campbell’s ideas on hero’s journeys in myths.

  11. The theory of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth is one that i believe is most accurate. Campbell has many steps in his Monomyth theory, but he divided them into three main parts. Separation, initiation, and return make up most of the hero’s story, but many smaller steps follow. One example seen in almost all stories and myths is the role of a woman temptress. The temptation will often take a beautiful female form and can come as good or bad. For example in Star Wars, Princess Leia is a innocent example to Luke of a women temptress. The importance of a temptress is the influence they bring and the possibilities he/she brings. This also can go back in time of the creation period when Eve is said to represent temptation and what the importance of a temptress is. There are many steps in Campbells theory, but temptation is something that humans have been dealing with for ages.

  12. Joseph Campbell is Talks about the three main stages of a hero’s journey in his book “The hero with a thousand faces.” These three stages are Separation, initiation, and return, it’s what almost all hero’s go through during their journey. These stages can be represented in the movie “The Lion King”.
    In the movie, “The Lion King” Simba goes through separation at a young age. In the beginning of the movie Simba loses his father so that is separation from him. Another way he is separated id from his uncle. They always kept him separated cause his uncle who was named scar was no good. Scar was the one who technically killed Simba’s dad Mufasa. He pushes him off the ledge instead of trying to save him. He also loses separation from his mother because he ends up in the Jungle alone and that’s when the initiation comes in. While he is in the jungle alone he meets some new animals who later become his friends. They Timon and Pumbaa. They give him the confidence that he had deep down inside and never showed. They raised him to be the best he could be. Through the years with them Simba become a strong and confident Lion. The initiation Comes in during the middle of movie when he goes to the pool with Rafiki. Rafiki tells him to look deeper because when he first looks in the pool he saw his reflection. The second time around he saw his father to show who he could be. Then he sees a vision of what he can be and what it looks like if he doesn’t step up like he supposed to.
    He then realizes what he must do, He must take up responsibilities to set the kingdom start. That leads to the return home. When he come back its not looking so good that’s from his abandonment. At the end, he takes care of his responsibilities and the kingdom returns to its normal state. That’s how he becomes the hero.

  13. Multiple of Aristotle’s ideas of the tragic hero fit the God Vishnu in the story The end of The Kali Age. The Hindu God Vishnu can be described as a tragic hero and more specifically a “great man”. An Ohio University article on Aristotle’s Tragic terms defines a great man as a man who is neither a paragon of virtue and justice nor undergoes the change to misfortune through any real badness or wickedness but because of some mistake. In many stories from India, there was believed to have an Apocalypse at the end of each age, which would create a new one after. During the fourth age, most commonly known as The Kali Age, an apocalypse occurs and Vishnu is able to experience it. Vishnu is defined as a great man because he doesn’t change due to malaise or evil but had to change due to an unfortunate event. Vishnu had to absorb the world while the apocalypse occurred so a new age could start, but he had to be birthed again.


  14. Aristotle’s “tragic hero” ideal can be identified in numerous Greek myths that represent true loss. One such example of this tragic hero is found in India: The End of The Kali Age. Vishnu, the preserver god, has the sole responsibility of protecting the earth and recycling it when he deems necessary. While some may praise him as a “god” I choose to side with Aristotle’s ideology. Aristotle stated that the hero is “neither a villain nor a model of perfection but is basically good and decent.”.Although Vishnu is an idol, I feel as though he is not a hero but rather good and decent as he is simply fulfilling his one “purpose”. As Vishnu “recycles” the earth, the sun is responsible for nourishing earth and its inhabitants by giving it the essentials to thrive. All the same, you rarely see anyone praising the sun for rising up every morning and setting every night because the sun is simply fulfilling its sole “purpose”. Therefore I feel as though Vishnu should not be praised as he is simply good and decent.

    Sources: 1)

  15. Campbell’s Influential Scholarship:
    Joseph Campbell, a renound mythological researcher developed stages of a hero’s journey that seem to apply to most (if not all) hero-quests. For instance, in the story of Manu, an Indian myth, the protagonist, Manu, is called away from his ordinary world/everyday life when “It” warns him about a great flood coming. This represents the beginning steps of the “hero’s journey”, “the ordinary world” and “the call to adventure”, as explained by Campbell. As the “The Hero’s Journey” document states, “usually there is a discovery, some event [the flood], or some danger that starts them on the heroic path” (1). The next prescribed step in the hero’s journey is “refusal of the quest”, which is basically that if the hero denies the quest, there will be misfortune but if they accept it, it will aid them, which in “Manu” is when Manu decides to listen to the ghasha’s advice to build a ship and enter it a year later when the flood was predicted to come. Since he accepted the “quest”/advice, it brought him fortune and saved his life, which applies to the step of the mono-myth “accepting the call”. Accordingly, Manu entering the ship would also be apart of the step in the mono-myth of “entering the unknown” due to Manu never doing so before and only entering the ship because of the advice he received from ghasha. Along in this, the ghasha is what Campbell would call a “supernatural aid” as well as an “ally/helper” because the fish is who warned Manu as well as pulled him by the rope of the ship to safety. Also, the “talisman” or “special item that assists the heroes on their quest” (3) would be the ship since it is primarily what completed the quest in saving Manu. In actuality, the “supreme ordeal” or “quest/test” Manu faces is taking the boat down to the sea in exactly a year since the warning from ghasha was given. Since he succeeded in doing so, ghasha made sure he made it to safety and “the tension [from the flood is] relieved” (3). This myth of Manu, however, does not precisely fit Campbell’s monomyth because there is no “journey home” necessarily. Basically, Manu’s journey home is just leaving the ship and his “reward” is being the only creature to survive the vast flood because of the aid from ghasha. On top of this, the myth does not entail if Manu was going to restore his world, so the last “stage” of Campbell’s monomyth does not exactly apply there. All in all, India’s myth of Manu follows the basic stages and common structure seen in a majority of myths/stories, which Campbell called the “monomyth”. Though the myth does not follow the monomyth step by step, it does embody the same elements Joseph Campbell discovered to be seen in most myths.
    Works cited: &

  16. The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of actions that is found in many stories. Popularized by Joseph Campbell, this template for storytelling is also known as monomyth. Campbell summarized his theory in three large steps; separation, initiation, and return. Now, these aren’t the only steps, but they can be considered the largest pieces in the plot. Separation is the first main piece that can be explained by being the start of the hero’s journey, where they are called into adventure and set out with supernatural assistance. For Dorthy of The Wizard of Oz, she is called into action by the twister that swept her away from Kansas. She must start her journey to return home, with the assistance of the ruby red slippers. Initiation is the next step, where the hero is faced with the main ‘meat’ of the story. This is where they experience trials and tribulations that cause them to emerge as a hero. For Dorthy this was recruiting and helping the Scarecrow, Tin-Man, and Cowardly Lion, along with defeating the Wicked Witch of the West. In the final step, return, the hero crosses back into the threshold of reality. For Dorthy this was clicking her heels back together and awaking to her Aunt, Uncle, and Professor.


  17. Joseph Campbell’s 3 main parts of a hero’s journey is able to relate to any great hero from your favorite novel or movie. In the story, the Hunger Games we are shown Campbell’s key ideas from the Hero’s Journey portrayed in this book. In the beginning we are firstly shown the separation as talked about by Campbell of Katniss leaving District 12 as she sacrifices herself in place of her sister Prim. The separation or departure is something mostly all heros go through in the beginning of their journey. Secondly we are shown the initiation part, which in the hunger games would be katniss going through trials and tests to get her ready and prepared for the ultimate test which is the hunger games. In the hunger games we are shown her true strength as she’s able to stay alive and this is when her true character emerges. She is seen as a hero in her districts eyes and they are all rooting for her. Lastly, her return is just like any other true heros. Her district patiently waited her arrival and celebrated her and peeta, the other boy in her district’s, return. Katniss is a great example of Campbell’s 3 main ideas of a heros journey as she portrays to all of his main points.

  18. Joseph Campbell describes the idea of the “monomyth” as the “hero’s journey.” He outlines the patterns in the works he studies into seventeen stages; but for this blog post we will only be talking about the three main stages. The three main stages of separation, initiation and return can be seen in almost all of today’s books, movies and television show. The most concrete of these is the idea of the “superhero.” When I first read Campbell’s theories, the first example that came to mind was Captain America. In my mind, his story encompasses both Campbell’s idea of a monomyth and Aristotle’s ideas of a tragedy. When we first meet Captain America, he was only Steve Rogers. He was the scrawny kid who wanted to serve his country in the war but because of his health issues, he was denied time and time again. This is until he meets he doctor who proposed an experimental treatment that would allow him to be able to fight in the war like he always wanted. This moment shows the “Call to Adventure,” and the “Supernatural Aid.” Next, he goes through the extremely painful process of becoming the super soldier that the doctor was trying to create, only after becoming the exact thing that the army desired, he was told that it was too dangerous to send him out to the front lines, instead he became a show to sell bonds and boost moral for the soldiers. His dream of serving his country was crushed and he was forced to become a dancing monkey for the masses to “do his part.” These serve as “Crossing the First Threshold.” And, as Aristotle suggested, makes the audience feel pity for him and they want him to reach his goals and succeed. But then, the story shifts, and he hears that a group of soldiers were captured and the army didn’t want to risk losing more soldiers to save those few. Among them was his ally Bucky Barnes. So, he risks it all to save his friend and the other soldier. This kicks off his initiation where his travels around Europe “kicking Nazi butt” with his best friend and the Howling Commandos. Here, the “Road of Trials” is shown. But, then, things take a turn for the worst and Bucky falls to his death. Here, as Aristotle describes, Steve changes from an almost completely good man to one who now shows his fatal flaw, how much he cares. At this point he doesn’t care about the people who get in his way, if the people he cares about are safe. At the end of the movie, he reaches that point where his fatal flaw becomes, literally, fatal. He flies a plane full of nuclear bombs heading for New York into the arctic. He says to his love interest, Peggy Carter, “Right now I’m in the middle of nowhere. If I wait any longer a lot of people are gonna die. Peggy, this is my choice.” It is at this point the audience weeps for the tragic hero who dies for the sake of the lives of others and the loss of what could have been. This was his “Refusal of the Return.” The last few scenes of the movie are when he is found almost 70 years later, alive, still frozen in the ice. This is both the “Return” and that moment of catharsis for the audience. From here his story continues to go through the Hero’s Journey throughout the other movies from the franchise. This film encompasses, in the most classic sense, both the ideas of Joseph Campbell and Aristotle.

  19. Campbell describes that the process of a hero’s journey consisted of three parts. The parts starts with separation, thennitiation, and lastly the return. For a better understanding of this process, I would like to used the story of Harry Potter as an example. In the beginning, Harry Potter was stuck living underneath a tiny cupboard with his aunt and uncle, who would abuse him every chance they get. He then received a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry asking him to attend. His aunt and uncles was against him going there and he himself did not believe that he could become a wizard. However, a man visited him soon after and brought him to a place called Diagon Alley, where Harry became fascinated to learn the tricks of magic. Hagrid, who guided him through the task of becoming a wizard soon became someone who Harry can depend on. This is where the separation ends and would slide into the initiation. At Hogwart, Harry found out that his parents was killed by Lord Voldemort. He want so much to avenge his parents’ death but he knows he’s too weak to do that alone so he made friends with Ron and Hermione to help him with the quest along the way. Their first quest is to protect the Philosopher’s Stone from Professor Snape. However, something with wrong during the quest and Harry ended up facing Professor Quirrel, who Voldemort has been hosting on, alone. Harry knows he is still not strong enough to fight Voldemort by himself and Voldemort strong power made Harry passed out and brought him to the verge of death. This would be where the initiation ends and the return begin. As result of the encountered, Harry did not died but was brought to the school hospital. He later discovered that he was protected by his parents’ love that was able to save him from Voldemort wrath. Although, Harry may not defeated Voldemort but he knows that by being alive, he would have another chance of meeting Voldemort again in the near future.

    • I agree with the the connections you made between Campbell’s explanation of a monomyth and the story of Harry Potter completely, but it also made connections with Aristotle’s tragic hero theory. Could Harry Potter be considered a tragic hero? Although he has a happy ending, he endured a lot of suffering and his journey brought him a lot of losses. Would Dobby, Dumbledore, Sirius Black, or Fred Weasley be considered tragic heroes? They all met tragic ends and their downfall was helping Harry Potter.

  20. A monomyth or the hero’s journey is a template of tales that involves a hero who goes on an adventure (separation), and wins a victory during a crisis (initiation), and then comes home transformed (return). Joseph Campbell viewed monomyths as stories all followed by the same basic pattern and plot. Campbell describes 17 stages of the monomyth, but not all monomyths necessarily contain the 17 stages, whereas most are summed into three sections. The first section of the story is separation/departure which is about the separation of the hero from their normal world. For example, in the movie “Finding Nemo,” Nemo is caught by men in a boat and Marlin must embark on a journey across the ocean to get him back. The initiation is the main part of the story. Through daring and battle, the true character emerges. In Finding Nemo, Marlin and Dory come across Bruce who is a shark tempted to eat them, then they get caught in “the belly of the whale,” where it turns out the whale helps them in their journey. Overall, they are able to overcome their risky encounters. After their initiation, the hero returns in triumph to deserved recognition, just like Nemo, Marlin, and Dory safely returned home to their reef after their journey. Although, Finding Nemo is a popular movie, it’s story line still closely follows Joseph Campbells ideas on a hero’s journey.

  21. Native North American Myth: Star Woman and Earth Divers is a creation myth that originated from the Onondagan tribe that explains how the Earth came to be. The myth follows a woman known as, “Star Woman,” who has a child. This child can be considered a tragic hero, but for this to make sense we must view the beings being forced to live on Earth, rather than in the sky as a tragedy. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero possesses a flaw, peripeteia (a disruption of fortune due to the hero’s poor judgement,) experiences anagnorisis (a recognition of one’s error or flaw,) and lastly the hero’s fate involves an excessive amount of suffering.

    The flaw of the Star Women as a whole seems to be that when they give birth their husbands die. After the daughter of the Star Woman is married and has a baby her husband falls ill. I inferred from the reading that since her husband did not die that he throws his wife and child from the sky in order to avoid death. This is the event that disrupts the life of the Star Woman’s child. A factor from the myth that differs with Aristotle’s description of a tragic hero is that the Star Woman never recognizes any flaws or mistakes she might possess or might have made. Failing to recognize that birth leads to death she allows her daughter to give birth. Her daughter is murdered by one of her son’s and brings evil into the world. The Star Woman suffers through the loss of her father, the betrayal of her husband, the death of her daughter, and with now being introduced to evil.

  22. Joseph Campbell identifies the Monomyth as a kind of template for many heroic tales in which a main character follows a series of steps to become a “hero”. It goes like so: A hero in an ordinary world is presented with some type of call to adventure in which he or she may or may not initially refuse. They then meet a mentor through whom (or on their own) they then choose to accept this call to adventure. In doing so the main character crosses to the “special world” and steps away from reality. They face tests which they should pass with relative ease, then will face a type of ultimate fear. One of two things can happen; either they pass this test, or die and are resurrected somehow. Then after this, the main character or hero will return to his initial society improved or changed for the better one way or another. This idea can be broken down into three larger steps which are separation, initiation and return.
    According to Campbell, you can apply this sequence of events known as “The Hero’s Journey” to almost any hero tale. When thinking of this, I tried to draw parallels to stories i already know, and one of my favorite childhood books came to mind; Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief. Percy was initially called into action when he finds out his father is poseidon and that he is in trouble. He must retrieve an item for his father, and so he sets out on his mission. In this call to action, he initially refuses, until he meets a mentor named Chiron which guides him in the direction of heroism. Within the first 3 chapters of the book, the first stage of the hero’s journey is accomplished.
    Percy faces initiation throughout the main part of the story, where he fights many types of monsters and demons. He faces a lot of smaller tasks, and pass them although they were rough. Then in the end he must face the ultimate task, a greater challenge than all; He ends up fighting Hades and although he doesn’t defeat him per say, he ends up victorious. Percy then is on a mountain full of gods, and his reward is the appreciation of all of the gods; they call kneel to him. He is a hero. He begins his return and makes quite the journey back home. He has to face a gatekeeper in order to pass the threshold from the special world back into the ordinary world. Once he makes it back into the ordinary world, he is a different person. Percy understands many things he did not understand before and sees the world in a completely different light.
    Aside from just this story, it’s quite interesting to use Campbell’s theories to draw comparisons with different stories and realize just how accurate it is. Joseph Campbell’s theory of monomyth holds true through just about any hero tale.

  23. In this post, I would like to compare Aristotle’s Characteristics for a tragic hero with a character from game of thrones. Aristotle lays down a set of characteristics that nearly every tragic hero must follow. The character must suffer, must be doomed, be noble, and his story should arouse fear and empathy. One such character that meets all the criteria for as tragic hero in George RR Martins Book Series A Song Of Ice And Fire is Rob Stark. Rob Stark is the son of his recently deceased father who was killed in a treacherous act by an evil king. Outraged by this Rob being the noble man that he is takes up arms against the king. This action highlights robs inherent goodness, as he does the right thing and stands up for his family, it also shows how rob suffers much more than he deserves, the Stark family (which Rob belongs to) had never wronged the king or anyone in his service. Over the next year Rob shows his intelligence and prowess for leadership by wining every battle he is in. Sadly, these victories are not enough, leading into another characteristic rob meets. Rob is doomed from the start. Not only does everyone doubt his ability to lead due to his young age, they fear his political inexperience will lead him to tearing apart his hold on the kingdom he fights for.
    In the end is it not Robs Pride that kills him but a mixture of his Vices and Virtues. It is Robs lust and honor that kills him. Robs mother pledged to marry rob to the daughter of a lord they needed the service of to help win Robs war. Rob however, falls in love with another girl and does the “noble” thing and marries her. This offends the king that Rob had been promised to this leads into another matching characteristic. Rob Stark Now sees his faults and learns that it is not just important to win on the battlefield but also to win over the men under you. Rob trying to recover from this folly arranges to marry his uncle to the girl and a grand marriage is planned. When Rob attends this wedding he is betrayed by the lord he once betrayed and is killed in the process along with all his men and his mother. This microcosm of storytelling that takes place in the entire series show a perfect example of a tragic hero according to Aristotle’s Guidelines of Such a hero.

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