The Heroine’s Journey

 

Hero's Journey

As many of you know, I am in the process of finishing my first novel and researching the second. In an attempt to add weight and depth to my story, I did a bit of research on “The Hero’s Journey” which is also known as a monomyth. Though “The Hero’s Journey,” has been around for centuries, mythologist Joseph Campbell brought it to the forefront of pop culture thanks to his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. His version of the hero’s journey has spawned a number of classic films including the original Stars Wars trilogy, the first two Spiderman films, Batman and many more. In fact, while writing the script for the first Star Wars film, director George Lucas consulted with Campbell to make sure he was getting the concepts correct. You’d be hard pressed to find a film or book today that doesn’t follow some part of the hero’s journey. For those unfamiliar with monomyths, “The Hero’s Journey” is divided into 17 stages:

Separation

  • The Call to Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Supernatural Aid
  • Crossing of the Threshold
  • Belly of the Whale

Initiation

  • The Road of Trials
  • The Meeting of the Goddess
  • Woman as Temptress
  • Atonement with the Father
  • Apotheosis
  • The Ultimate Boon

Return

  • Refusal of the Return
  • The Magic Flight
  • Rescue From Without
  • Master of Two Worlds
  • Freedom to Live

Most of–if not all movies and novels–follow some form of the hero’s journey. Just look at Star Wars: A New Hope. The “Atonement with the Father” step carries a huge weight in all three movies. However, in its original form, “The Hero’s Journey” is very gender-biased. The female characters are cast as temptresses, distractions that prevent the hero from reaching their ultimate goal. In this first Star Wars movie, Leia is the so-called “temptress,” although her role grows more substantial with each film. Mary Jane Watson is the temptress in Spiderman. You can even consider Cho Chang or Ginny as “distractions” in the Harry Potter series.

So where is the female version of this “Hero’s Journey?” Author Maureen Murdock created her own version of the monomyth called “The Heroine’s Journey,” Murdock’s model differs signitifcantly in Campbell’s male-dominated myth. Women are more than just obstacles; they are living and breathing beings with thoughts and desires of their own. Due to the influx of male dominated protagonists on the big screen, it is rare to find a film that treats women as hero’s. Superman, Batman, Iron Man and Captain America have all fond their way to the big screen and yet characters like Wonder Woman still thrive only on the page. Here are the steps in Murdock’s “Heroine Journey”:

1. Separation of the Feminine

2. Identification with the Masculine & Gathering of Allies

3. Road of Trials, Meeting Ogres and Dragons

4. Finding the Boon of Success

5. Awakening to Feelings of Spiritual Airdity: Death

6. Initiation & Descent to the Goddess

7. Urgent Yearning to Reconnect with the Feminine

8. Healing the Mother/Daughter Split

9. Healing the Wounded Masculine

10. Integration of Masculine & Feminine

The Heroine's Journey

Fortunately literature is ripe with strong female characters who go on their own journey, the most notable example being Suzanne’s Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. In the next series of blog posts, I will break down The Hunger Games trilogy and dissect how the books and films adhere to Campbell’s monomyth while also defining what it means to be a female in today’s world.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Heroine’s Journey

    • I actually find them more interesting to write. Women go through a complex series of emotion that are different from men, thereby making their stories unique.

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