Did you know that just by going to the movie theater, streaming Netflix, or popping in a DVD you are receiving an in-depth education in mythology and human nature? The best place to start is with George Lucas and Star Wars. Lucas recalled reading a book by Joseph Campbell called The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) , when in college. In this book, Joseph Campbell first described the monomyth. The “Hero’s Journey” ( or the heroic monomyth) describes the common stages a hero must endure in many stories. According to Joseph Campbell, there a three major phases to great mythological stories; Separation, Initiation, Return, George Lucas was so inspired by Campbell’s work that he utilized this analysis of monomyth to construct the entire Star Wars epic, even working directly with Campbell. The prevalence of the monomyth in today’s culture is the most intriguing aspect of the concept. The protagonists ( or heroes) in popular movies and stories such as J.R.R. Tolkiens, Lord of the Rings, Orson Scott Cards, Ender’s Game, and the Wachowski Brothers film, The Matrix, all go through the three distinct stages illustrated in Campbell’s book. Now that you know, I guarantee you will notice aspects of the monomyth in many places; from poetry, to film,even in your own life. Enjoy the journey!
I encourage you to take the time and check out a clear and well constructed example of how Star Wars and The Matrix fit the structure of the “Hero’s Journey” at the link below.