The Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey is a classic story structure in which someone — often an unlikely hero — is called to adventure. Through the help of a mentor, he/she crosses to a challenging and unfamiliar — often supernatural — place where he/she meets many trials, temptations, and dangers. After he/she has gone through this ordeal and vanquished enemies, he/she returns to where he/she began, having obtained treasure or other rewards.
As a result of the hero’s journey, he/she is transformed and gains greater wisdom and spiritual power that can be used for the good of the community. The short animated video below provides a look at the way a hero tale unfolds.
Hero’s Journey Examples
The hero’s journey is seen in tales such as Homer’s Odyssey, Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, or the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. More modern hero characters include Pip in Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Huckleberry Finn, Jill Pole in The Silver Chair, and Frodo in Lord of the Rings. This story structure is also used in movies such as Star Wars or The Matrix. What examples can you think of?
Hero’s Journey Chart
The illustration by Esbjorn Jorsater is loosely based on Christopher Vogler´s description of the Hero´s Journey. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The Excellence in Literature Glossary offers more definitions of literary terms and ideas.