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  • Writer's pictureMateusz Górecki

The hero's journey

What do Harry Potter, Frodo, Superman have in common with mythical characters of heroes, legends, sagas and various legends?

What would you think if I told you that they are all different versions of the same hero?

Would you believe it? Joseph Cambpell believed it.


For many years he studied a wide variety of myths from around the world, the final result of which was the publication of the book "the hero with a thousand faces", where he presented summaries of thousands of stories, while explaining their common basis, or the journey of the main character.

What is the aforementioned journey?

Imagine a clock, in the shape of a circle. Divide it into standard twelve hours. The journey begins and ends in the ordinary world of our hero(at 12 o'clock), but all the challenges facing him he must perform, somewhere else, in an unknown, special world. During his journey we will notice several key moments, events that will have a significant impact on him.

Now think of your favorite movie, or book. Don't you think it coincides with this pattern?


We start at the status quo.


Hour 1 Call. Our hero is called by an adventure, receives a strange, often mysterious message, an invitation, a challenge.


Hour 2: Help. The hero needs help, probably from someone wiser, older.


Hour 3 - On the road. The hero crosses a certain threshold, a barrier separating a safe, normal, established life, and sets out into the unknown, to meet a great adventure, but at the same time with danger.


Hour 4 Trial. You know- being a super hero is hard work- solving puzzles, taking down terrifying monsters, escaping from extremely dangerous traps prepared by his enemies.


Hour 5 Approach. It's time to face the biggest challenge, a huge test, Our Hero's worst fear.


Hour 6 Crisis. The darkest hour, the worst time. He closes his eyes, practically dies, but only to be born again!


Hour 7 Treasure. The hero finds a treasure, an extra, extraordinary power, special abilities, thanks to which he can overcome the most dangerous and greatest challenge.


Hour 8 Effects. In different stories this can take a different form. Fear, a monster suddenly, completely unexpectedly grows in front of Our hero, or begins to chase him, ultimately being defeated.


Hour 9 Return. After all the adventures, the hero returns to his normal world.

Godzina 10. Nowe życie. Wyzwanie i cała wyprawa zmieniły Naszego bohatera. Wyrasta ze starych przyzwyczajeń, z prowadzonego dotychczas życia.

Godzina 11. Postanowienie. Wszystkie zawiłe sprawy zaczynają się wyjaśniać.

Godzina 12. Status quo. Widzimy Naszego bohatera w nowym świetle, całkowicie zmienionego, na innym, wyższym poziomie.

Everything seemingly is the same(unless you are the hero). Very many popular movies and books are based on just such a pattern of behavior.

Recently I watched the movie "The Hunger Games", a film seemingly totally inconsistent with what I wrote above. However, let's see if it certainly does.

What was heroine Katniss Everdeen's call to adventure? The moment when her sister's name was read out in the lottery. What about help then? Will someone help Our Heroine during her journey? Of course there is- Haymitch! And what about setting off? Nothing simpler-she leaves her ordinary world, gets on a train, heading to the capital.

Ok. You already know what this whole matrix thing is about. But right now, let's go deeper, let's consider what YOU might have to do with it? What ties you to Harry Potter, Katnis Everdeen, or Frodo? You are...human, just like them. The myth of the superhero's journey exists in all cultures we know, and is constantly being updated as we perceive our surroundings through symbolic stories from our lives. You live in a comfort zone. You have many experiences that change you. Then you recover and do it again. In reality, you are not fighting dragons or beasts, but problems that frighten you no less than the former. They are your inner monsters!

Joseph Cambpell once said in very interesting words that the treasure you seek is in the cave you fear to enter. What is your symbolic cave? A speech in front of people at the university? Your first day at work? Love?

Watch a movie, or read a book, but in terms of the formula I presented. You will certainly see it again. On the other hand, see it from the perspective of your life.


Look out for the challenge to the adventure. Accept the challenge. Face your fear. Claim the treasure you seek. And then ...repeat it!

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