The Transformative Power of the Hero’s Journey: How Literature’s Timeless Narrative Structure Shapes Characters and Changes Lives
After introducing two popular story structures in the last articles — the three-act structure and the five-act structure — today I’ll show you a metastructure that you can mix with the other two, very specific structures. Welcome to the Hero’s Journey.
The hero’s journey is a timeless narrative structure that has captivated audiences for centuries. This structure, which was popularized by mythologist Joseph Campbell, involves a protagonist who goes on a journey, faces challenges and obstacles, and ultimately emerges victorious and changed.
This journey can take many forms, from epic adventures to personal quests, but it always follows a similar pattern. In this article, we’ll explore the different stages of the hero’s journey, using examples from literature to illustrate the transformative power of this narrative structure.
In the beginning, the hero is in their normal world, living a mundane existence. But something happens to push them out of their comfort zone and into a new adventure. This could be a call to action, a quest, or a challenge.
The hero’s journey often begins with a “call to adventure,” which is a moment of crisis or opportunity that forces the hero to leave their normal life behind. For example, in the classic novel “The Odyssey,” the hero Odysseus is called to leave his home and embark on a journey to reclaim his kingdom and his wife. In “The Lion King,” Simba is forced to flee his home after the death of his father and confront his own destiny as the rightful king of the Pride Lands.
In the middle, the hero faces numerous obstacles and challenges on their journey. They may encounter helpful allies and fearsome enemies, and they may have to overcome their own personal flaws and weaknesses. This stage of the journey is often referred to as the “initiation,” and it is here that the hero truly begins to transform.
For example, in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Harry learns to overcome his fear…