A Hero's Journey
What is the hero's journey? (Featuring: Luke Skywalker)
The hero’s journey is a structure where a story is told in a perspective of a single hero. There have been a few interpretations of the hero's journey but I’ll be focusing on Joseph Campbell’s simple 12 stages of the hero’s journey. I'll be using the original Star Wars as an example. The hero that will be used is named Luke Skywalker.
First Stage: Ordinary World
This stage presents the hero’s beginnings and their shows their true nature and their outlook on life. As you see from the image above (figure one), this shows Luke Skywalker's life in a nutshell. Luke does not have much, as a simple farm boy. All Luke has is this desert planet known as Tatooine and his family.
Second Stage: Call to Adventure
This is where the hero receives a call to action. An example can be something that threatens him or his family or a disruption of the hero’s ordinary world. From the image above (Figure Two), we see R2-D2 giving Luke a message from a Princess Leia asking for Obi-wan Kenobi for help. This message immediately disturbs Luke's ordinary world.
Third Stage: Refusal of the Call
At this stage, the hero has personal doubts about the journey because he either is afraid, he thinks he’s not up to the task, or he just does not feel comfortable away from home. Luke does not want to leave his Aunt and Uncle. Luke is convinced that he has a life on Tatooine and does not want to leave the farm.
Fourth Stage: Meeting the Mentor
This is the stage where there is a mentor figure that guides the hero when he needs the mentor the most. A mentor figure that guides Luke to the right direction is Obi-Wan Kenobi or Ben Kenobi in Luke's case. Ben is one of a group of people in Luke's life that gives him the courage to go through the the journey.
Fifth Stage: Crossing the Threshold
This is where the hero is ready to begin his quest whether it’s physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Luke's uncle and aunt both had perish and he feels that there is nothing left on Tatooine for him. Therefore, Luke accepts his fate and joins Ben Kenobi on his quest to deliver plans for the Death Star.
Sixth Stage: Test, Allies, and Enemies
At this point, the hero is out of his comfort zone and confronts obstacles, meets new allies and meets new enemies. The Allies of this journey are Han Solo and Chewbacca, who agree to take, both, Luke and Ben to Alderaan. We understand that the empire are not the allies of this journey for obvious reasons. A obvious reason would be stormtroopers firing at the Millennium Falcon.
Seventh Stage: Approach to the Inmost Cave
This is where the hero enters a dangerous place which the hero had not faced until that moment. Luke and his allies are on there way to Alderaan but the Empire had destroyed the planet. They managed to invade the Death Star, where most of the Empire resides and manage to rescue Princess Leia.
Eighth Stage: The Ordeal
This stage is where the hero faces a dangerous physical test or some deep inner crisis in order to survive. This stage mostly involves a death of some sort. In Figure Eight, we see the villain of the film striking down Luke's mentor, Ben Kenobi. This moment troubles Luke because Ben was his guide in this world that Luke is in now. Luke is gonna have to accept what has happened and continue the journey without Ben Kenobi.
Ninth Stage: Reward
It is a point where the hero gains something after overcoming a personal challenge and is becoming a stronger person. In Luke's case, he gained the confidence to take down the Empire and join the Rebellion.
Tenth Stage: The Road Back
It is a point where the hero is relieved and could go home but at this moment the hero can either choose between his own personal objective and another that is at a higher cause. Luke had a opportunity to go home with Han Solo but refused the opportunity. Luke, instead, stays and fights with the rebellion.
Eleventh Stage: Resurrection
This is where the hero is in his final encounter with the enemy and if he fails, other’s will suffer too. Usually, the hero ultimately succeeds. It is up to Luke to take down the Death Star. With the help of Han Solo and Chewbacca, Luke was able to defeat Darth Vader and destroy the Death Star.
Twelfth Stage: Return with the Elixir
The hero is a changed person and had learned many things from the obstacles he had faced and will also get some final reward, whether it’s literal or metaphorical. Luke saves the day and is given a medal for his courage. Speaking of courage, the medal represents Luke's courage he had gained throughout his journey.
The End of the Journey
The hero has finished his journey and ends back where he started but will never be the same again. This completes the hero's journey. This form of storytelling can be seen in a lot of films. A few other movies that uses the hero's journey, or has the concept, are Spiderman, The Matrix, 'The Lord of The Rings,' and many more. Next time you watch a film, keep a eye out because the film may contain the hero's journey.