Chapter One: Intro to the Journey
Thanks to a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College whose area of focus was in comparative mythology and comparative religion, the idea behind one of the greatest philosophies of storytelling has been brought to the forefront and has developed a system some of your favorite stories follow to this day. Anyone who is a professional author or anyone who took a Philosophy and Literature course will know the name of Joseph Campbell for his work in deciphering the blueprint of the mythos of heroes through his work with other authors and his time spent studying philosophers.
The idea is both simple and convoluted in many ways. On the surface, The Hero’s Journey is an outline of 12 events that a character must experience to take a story from beginning to the middle and finally the well-rounded end. As soon as you read that last sentence if you are anything like me your mind instantly went to one of many stories that you’ve read that don’t follow such a simple path. I like to think of Campbell’s Journey as more of an outline rather than a static blueprint, Meaning I believe that the 12 characteristics are found in a great story, but at times they don’t need to be in the exact order with the exception of a few steps. I like to think of the Journey Philosophy more like a tree than a list, with the foundation rooted into the ground being a strong beginning that does all of the work to set up the story for growth, then there is the trunk which would be the body of the story which essentially is the heart and soul of the story that keeps it going this is also where the plot would be found, the branches and leaves each represent the steps of the journey that oftentimes are used for character development and highlight the struggle and achievements the character faces, and finally, the top of the tree which represents the full growth and development of the story. The beauty of this analogy is that eventually all parts of that tree will decompose and go back to the earth to feed the growth for a new truth or to keep with the theme the reason why we love stories: After we are done reading or experiencing a story the story lives on in us and can help in how we live out our own story.
Over the next 12 weeks, we will go into detail on all of the steps of the Hero’s Journey using examples that will be able to put them into context.